Henry Coughlan was hoping one of his Crescent Valley High teammates would fall in behind him in the 3,000-meter final and ensure both a state meet berth.
But it didn’t play out that way, and Coughlan had to run his own race and make sure he qualified for state.
He accomplished that with ease despite not feeling 100% healthy, winning Wednesday’s only boys running final at the Mid-Willamette Conference track and field district meet at West Albany.
With no one to push him, Coughlan won in 9 minutes, 14.82 seconds, about 41 seconds off the personal best he set earlier this season.
The top two placers in each event and those meeting qualifying standards advance to next week’s 5A state meet at Hayward Field in Eugene. In addition, five statewide wild-card entries will be awarded based on district meet finals results.
The district meet concludes Friday.
Coughlan says he has some “unfinished business” and a desire to finish his high school career on a positive note. He has as many as three more individual races left, with Friday’s 1,500 races plus state finals.
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“I’m ready to have one of those efforts where you feel like you truly left it all on the track and you feel satisfied with how your senior year finished out,” said Coughlan, who finished fourth at the cross-country state meet in November and helped the Raiders to a second-place team finish.
“I feel like I’ve had a lot of good races, but haven’t had one where, ‘wow, this is one I can truly look back on and be like, that was a great race.’ I’m super excited for next week and hopefully I can have that race.”
The real race in Wednesday’s 3,000 final was for the conference’s second state-qualifying spot.
That state berth went to South Albany freshman Zander Campbell, who outkicked three competitors over the final few laps to finish runner-up in a personal-best 9:34.68.
CV’s Seb Daniels was third in 9:37.34, Corvallis’ Sam Hanson fourth in 9:39.08, a PR, and South Albany’s Wyatt Sparks fifth in a personal-best 9:50.91.
“It’s my first real race with that much competition around me,” Campbell said, adding that he had ran against a few of those competitors individually in meets. “But with the environment with all of them I think it pushed me extra.”
Campbell said going into Wednesday’s race that he felt the best he had all season. His confidence that he could claim second came from his teammates.
“I couldn’t even tell you how many times they told me I was there and I could compete with those guys. I’m really glad,” he said.
Crescent Valley’s Cody Pollock was seventh (9:55.9, PR) and Lebanon’s RJ Kennedy eighth (10:00.04).
Crescent Valley senior Ty Abernathy won the pole vault with just three clearances, the last at 13 feet even, two inches off his personal best. That worked out well for Abernathy, who had to get ready for a 400 preliminary soon after Central’s Elijah Jones and Silverton’s Joel Rush both went out of the competition at 13 feet.
Windy conditions were a factor, as Rush came into the meet with a season best of 13-7 and Jones 13-3.
“The last three steps of each vault the pole tip was kind of shaky, but I just trusted what I know and what (coach Dave) Gable’s taught me and we were just able to do the right things,” Abernathy said. “Both of these guys are extremely talented vaulters. I’ve had a few meets with both of them and I know what they’re capable of, and I think today the conditions just took advantage of everybody.”
Abernathy said he likes where he is with his training and is working to get on some bigger poles in order to clear higher bars, hopefully next week.
“We’re not done yet, the work is still coming,” he said.
West Albany’s Garrett Lee was fourth (11-0), CV’s Jack Herman fifth (10-6, PR), Corvallis’s Ryland Young sixth (10-0), South Albany’s Kaydin Affolter seventh (9-6) and Lebanon’s Jeb Shilts eighth (9-6).
CV senior Mason Martin got his breakthrough in the long jump.
Martin equaled his personal best at 21-7½ to place second to Silverton’s Keegan Walter by half an inch. It was Martin’s first jump in the 21-foot range in nearly six weeks.
“Overall it was good. It was the most consistent meet I’ve had all season,” said Martin, who had four marks of 21 feet or better. “It makes me feel prepared and feel good for state next week.”
Corvallis’ Aiden Lancaster was fifth (20-7½, PR), Lebanon’s Jackson Parrish sixth (20-6) and West Albany’s Jordan Stewart seventh (20-3½, PR).
In the boys discus, Lebanon’s Pablo Gonzalez-Solis was fifth (118-1), Crescent Valley’s Caleb Lambert seventh (113-9) and Corvallis’ Cole Seaders eighth (112-5).
Jesse Sowa is a sports reporter at the Corvallis Gazette-Times. He can be reached at 541-812-6065.