The temperature was in the 80s, and the sun was blazing down on the athletes at the Class 1A state track meet at Western Oregon University on Saturday.
Joseph senior Lane Bailey didn't seem to notice the sweltering heat or just didn't let it bother him because he launched a throw of 175 feet to claim his first state championship in the javelin.
Bailey wasted no time moving into first place and threw his eventual winning toss on his first attempt.
"This was one of the greatest days for me," Bailey said. "I knew I had a good throw in me and I was felt pretty loose and relaxed, but I didn't expect to get it on my first try."
Bailey entered the state meet with a qualifying mark of 167 feet, six inches, which gave him a second seed behind only Paisley's Matt St. Louis, who qualified with a top throw of 173-04. Paisley finished as runner up with a toss of 170-9.
"I was really trying to get a personal best and break the school record, since it was my last chance, but I guess winning the title makes up for that," Bailey said.
The special part about Bailey bringing home the gold is that this is the second year in a row the state javelin title has resided in Joseph. Last year, then-senior Kyle Hook out-threw the field to take first place (169-04).
Bailey, along with his Jo-Hi teammates, placed sixth in the team standings, just one point behind Dufur, which finished with 39 points. Damascus Christian, which swept both the boys and girls competition, finished 13 points ahead of second-place South Wasco County 79 to 66.
"The team reached all the goals I set and they set for themeselves and I am really proud of the way they performed," said JHS head coach John Roberts.
JHS seniors go out on high notePrior to Saturday, memories of a tough race and a wasted opportunity in the 400-meter run at last year's state meet were ones that Tristan Patton would love to forget.
Now he can.
Saturday, the Joseph senior shouted a yell of relief as he was third to cross the finish line at McArthur Field in Monmouth in 52.58.
"After doing so bad last year, I wanted to come out and run well, especially since its my last state meet," Patton said.
Patton eclipsed his district qualifying time by 15-hundredths of a second and finished less than a half of a second out of second place.
Coming out of the blocks in the 200-meter run Life Christian's Victor Matchi, Patton and Ione's Kelly Thompson were side-by-side in lanes six, five and four, respectively. All three made up the stagger in the first 200 meters, but as the three made the turn at the 300-meter mark, Thompson created a little space, while Patton and Matchi fought for second position. Thompson continued to stride well down the final stretch and crossed the finish line ahead of the other two, but in the last 25 meters Matchi used a burst of speed to edge to Patton for second place.
"I got out of the blocks really well and ran a good race, but the two guys who beat me were really good," Patton said.
Patton also qualified in the 200, but he finished out of medal contention with a 12th-place finish in 25.54, which was almost two seconds slower than his seed time.
Field events earn Eagles 24 pointsBesides the 10 points Bailey tallied with his top finish in the javelin, the JHS squad was able to tack on 14 more by the end of the meet. Leading the scoring was sophomore Chris Harshman, who finished third in the pole vault with a jump of 11-9. Finishing right behind him was his teammate senior Cody Graning, who cleared 11-6 for third place.
Graning, who qualified for the state meet last year and ended with a 14th place finish, improved his jumps by one foot. Saturday's meet was Harshman's first time at the final meet, but he jumped like he has been doing all season and finished behind the two guys that beat him at district May 13, Crane's Shane Ugalde and Wes Davies. The two finished first and second, respectively, bowing out at 13 feet.
After running in the 4x100-meter relay, Harshman had to sprint back to the pole vault pit to attempt his first jump at 10-6, but he showed some fatigue and missed his first attempt before clearing the height. He finally got in a rhythm and was able to clear his next couple of jumps. Graning, on the other hand, was vaulting error free for his first two attempts, clearing the height on the first try.
"Chris has had to split his time between pole vault and the relays all year, so he knew what to expect," Roberts said. "It just took him a little bit of time to get himself under control."
In the high jump, JHS had two competitors, sophomore Devin Patton and freshman Tavin Hurley vying for one of the eight medals awarded. Patton was the one to emerge as he cleared 5-11 for a seventh-place nod. Patton beat his previous personal best mark by one inch. Hurley finished one spot off of the medal stand with a ninth-place finish, jumping 5-10.
Rounding out the field events for the Eagles was Ben Garnett, who placed eighth in the shot put. Garnett, who had been trying to inch closer to his personal best throw of 43-11, came up just a few inches short with a toss of 43-3. Dufur's Kasey McCullough won the event with a throw of 51-9 1/2.
Also helping out the Joseph cause in the point standings was the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams of Tristan Patton, Kenny Lathrop, Harshman and Bailey.
JHS excelled more in the longer relay, something the team has done all season.
After three legs of the race, Joseph was in next to last place, but when Lathrop handed off to Patton, he was able to close the 150 meter distance between himself and Thompson of Ione and cross the tape in sixth place with a time of 3:41.72.
In the shorter 4x100 relay, the Jo-Hi squad had to face a much tougher field and finished in eighth place, clocking a 47.31.
Taking sixth in the 1,500-meter run was senior Dustin Rushton, who finished in 4:34.79, 7.36 seconds faster than his district qualifying time. In the first two laps, Rushton was right there with the lead group, but as they kicked it into another gear, Rushton wasn't able to keep up and slid back to the middle of the pack. After gaining some momentum and getting his second wind, Rushton surged to the finish line.
Lathrop also participated in the 800-meter run and came away with an eighth-place finish with a time of 2:12.79.
Wallowa's Geoff Long qualified in the high jump and long jump, but he did not make the trip. WHS head coach Dawn Crow had no comment on the situation.