LA GRANDE — The Joseph boys were within striking distance of contending for the 1A state championship Saturday, May 22, at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, before a strong effort by Powder Valley in the final two races and a win by Damascus Christian in the 4x400-meter relay sent them past the Eagles.

Joseph finished as a team with 52 points to take third, trailing only Damascus, who had 56 points, and Powder Valley, which won the 1A title with 64.5 points.

“They (did) a great job,” head coach John Roberts said. “Good job all the way though. I think just about all of them PR’d in all of their races, and the two girls did, too. It was a great 1A meet.”

A strong day in the field, led by Kale Ferguson, put the Eagles in position to compete for the state crown. The sophomore, wrapping up his first season of high school track after the pandemic canceled the 2020 year, set a personal best in winning the discus with a throw of 134 feet, 8 inches, and also reached a PR in the javelin at 150-feet-8, which was good for second. In both events, he set a new PR by more than 13 feet.

Ferguson said he didn’t expect to make it onto the podium in the discus, let alone win it.

“For discus, I got there, and when I was looking at everyone that was throwing, I thought ‘Wow, I don’t belong here. These guys are huge,’” he said. “... When I got up onto the platform where you throw, I just prayed for strength to guide my throw, and each time I threw it went farther and farther. The last one, it came out perfectly.”

He said it still hasn’t set in that he won.

“Just hearing the words ‘state champion’ is a little — I can’t explain it, it’s weird,” he said. “I didn’t expect I would make it to state at the beginning of the season. I’m kind of realizing that I have the abilities to do stuff like that.”

It was also a good day for senior Juston Rogers and junior Reece Nelson. Rogers came in second in the boys 400 in a PR time of 52.77 seconds — just 0.35 behind winner Conley Martin from Adrian — and was fourth in the 800 in 2:06.64. Nelson, meanwhile, placed second in the high jump at 6 feet even.

“He was happy with it,” Roberts said of Rogers. “He put a lot of speed into that 400, and it took a lot out of it to come back and run that 800. He was happy with it, and I was happy for him.”

Bayden Menton, meanwhile, took fifth just behind Rogers in the 800 in 2:06.91, and was fourth in the 1,500 in 4:16.34. Ian Goodrich had a seventh-place finish in the 800 in 2:07.49.

The 4x400 relay team, which consisted of Menton, Goodrich, Kane Johnson and Rogers, came in seventh in 3:49.74.

The Joseph girls took 26th with four points, all of which came from freshman Iona McDonald, who placed seventh in two events — the 1,500 in 5:40.27, and the 3,000 in 12:50.70. Lottie McDonald, the other competitor at the meet for the JCS girls, just missed out on the top eight when she placed ninth in the 300 hurdles (52.52 seconds) and the 400 (1:06.38) missing eighth in the 400 by just 0.27 seconds. She PR’d in both races.

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