LA GRANDE — It came down to the last events, but the Powder Valley Badgers boys team took home a track and field state championship Saturday, May 22 at Eastern Oregon University.
Powder Valley came from behind to score 64.50 points to claim the unofficial Oregon 1A State Championship (the Oregon School Activities Association isn’t sanctioning state championship events during the pandemic-abbreviated sports seasons).
Even more impressive, the Badgers won their title with just six athletes competing on the boys side.
“We were ecstatic about it,” Powder Valley coach Nic Maszk said. “It was just a really low athlete count to get the points that they did, that was one of the biggest things to me.”
The state event took place at Banner Bank Track at EOU and included athletes from 34 schools on the boys side and 30 for the girls.
The Badger boys accumulated points early in the day through field events, with Case Olsen placing third in the javelin, and Kaiden Krieger taking third in the high jump. Reece Dixon added 4.5 points in the triple jump with a tie for fourth place.
Distance runner Justin Ash was all over the track for the Badgers, starting the day with a third place finish in the 1,500 meter run with a time of 4 minutes, 15.66 seconds. Ash later took second place in the 3,000 meter run with a time of 9:09.00 and helped Powder Valley’s 4x400 meter relay team finish in second place.
“He was a key piece,” Maszk said of Ash.
After a podium finish in javelin, Olsen headed to the track and ran a 54.02 in the 400 meter dash to finish fourth.
Krieger also had a busy day, starting his track events off with a second place finish in the 200 meter dash. He ran a 23.69 in the 200 and then, in the next event, finished second in the 300 hurdles in 42.01 seconds.
Harper’s Corbin Palmer edged out Krieger by a mere four thousandths of a second.
“He’s just a hard worker,” Maszk said of Krieger. “He was probably a second off of winning all three of his events.”
Krieger was able to rest during the 3,000 meter run, before taking the track once more in the 4x400. After Ash scored a crucial eight points in the 3,000, the pressure was on the relay team to hold on to the team’s lead.
Powder Valley’s 4x400 meter team of Dixon, Ash, Olson and Krieger finished with a time of 3:41.01 and took home second place in the event. The eight points they earned in the event solidified the Badgers’ first place finish over runner-up Damascus Christian.
The Badgers won the team title without having any individual champions, relying on a solid group effort.
“I just told them that your job today is to get every single guy in front of you that you can,” Maszk said. “Every point matters.”
On the girls side, Aaliyah Burton of Elgin finished her day as a state champion in the 100 meter dash (12.89) and the 100 meter hurdles (15.51). Burton finished as runner-up in the 300 meter hurdles to Powder Valley’s Belle Blair.
Blair also won individual state championship honors in the long jump (15-10.00) and the 400 meter dash (1:01.13).
Elgin girls scored 47 points to finish on the podium with a third place team finish. Powder Valley took sixth overall with 41 points.
Imbler’s Erin Coston won a state championship in the pole vault, jumping a height of 8-06.00. The Panthers scored 28 points and finished eighth in the team standings.
Full results from the Oregon 1A State Championship can be found at http://www.swtiming.com/results/1astate/index.htm.