UNION — Zac Knapp put together what appeared to be an almost effortless performance Saturday, May 22, in Union.
The Enterprise junior eased to victory in two races, and his big day helped the Outlaw boys track and field team take third at the 2A state meet at Union High School.
Knapp, who just a few weeks earlier helped the Wallowa Valley cross-country team to a state title, set a personal best and came within a fraction of a second of setting a school record in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:10.88, about 0.4 seconds behind the best mark at EHS. Later, he immediately broke to the front of the pack in the 3,000 and glided to an easy win in a time of 9:19.91. While about 10 seconds shy of his personal best in the race, the run was enough to win by more than 23 seconds.
“(The) 1,500 going in I was really nervous. There were a lot of really, really great racers in that,” Knapp said. “I just thought, ‘Give it my all. I’ve got one shot at this.’ State was taken away last year from me. I just took it by the neck and did the best that I could. And then the 3,000, the same thing. I was like, ‘I got one chance at this.’ I’ve worked so hard, putting in hours extra, and this is what it all comes down to — ‘Do I have the strength to hold that lead and get first?’ And thankfully, I did.”
His points were a major portion of a big day for the EHS boys, who finished with 49 points and placed behind only state champion East Linn Christian (67 points) and runner-up Grant Union (53).
“I think the team effort was great,” senior Jericho Peters said. “For my last senior year, I really appreciate everyone. Everyone was giving it their hardest, going 100% every event. It was really fun to watch. Glad to be here; glad it happened.”
Peters had a strong effort in his final prep track meet. The EHS senior sprinter ran the second leg on the 4x100 and 4x400 relay, both of which took fourth with respective times of 47.16 seconds and 3:41.39. In his leg of the 4x400, he moved the team from middle of the pack to the lead before it finished fourth.
“Coming around that corner on my leg, I knew it was my last 400. I said, ‘I gotta go hard.’ That’s exactly what I did,” he said. “I ran the hardest I’ve ever run, ran my best 400, a 53 split.”
Individually, Peters placed fourth in the 200 in 23.46 seconds and was fifth in the 100 in 11.56.
Lute Ramsden ran the anchor leg on both relay races, and individually placed third in the 400 with a personal best time of 52.56.
Ransom Peters and Zander Walker were the other two legs of the fourth-place 4x100 team, while Knapp and Gideon Gray ran first and third on the 4x400 team.
Roan Flynn came in sixth in the 300 hurdles for Enterprise in 46.14, and in eighth in the 3,000 was Brenden Moore in a time of 45.67.
Head coach Dan Moody said he was pleased with the effort given the short season.
“We’re not in shape, and we know that,” he said. “The only ones that are in shape are our distance runners. Everybody else is six weeks out. I felt that they had a great season for this.”
The EHS girls team had three top-eight finishes as they scored five points to tie for 30th.
The Outlaws saved their best for last in the 4x400 relay, with Maddie Nordtvedt, Kyla Hook — who was competing despite battling an injury — Maddie Wigen and Savannah Vaughn placing sixth in a time of 4:39.61.
“Kyla especially, it’s just been getting worse all year long, she hasn’t been able to practice. She came through,” Moody said. “I gave her the option earlier to sit out of the 3,000 and the 1,500. She didn’t want to.”
The other relay team, the girls 4x100 of Althea Komiskey, Nordtvedt, Ailena McEntire and Vaughn placed eighth in 55.40 seconds.
Individually, Vaughn also cracked into medal range, placing eighth in the 200 in 28.65 seconds.
“These kids are special for the circumstances they had to deal with,” Moody said.