East Linn Christian Academy senior Jedaiah Wasson knew coming into this track and field season that the Eagles had a special team.
The squad validated that feeling with a runaway victory in the 2A boys team race at the OSAA State Track and Field Championships at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. The Eagles finished with 72 points, easily outpacing second-place Heppner (51 points).
"From the beginning of the season, we knew that we had a phenomenal team," Wasson said.
ELCA coach Kellen Peters said the team knew a state title was possible based on pre-meet projections. But projections aren't enough, the athletes have to go out and earn the points.
"They showed up. The guys stepped up," Peters said. "Those guys, they work hard all season and some of them, they work hard in the off-season."
Wasson won the 2A state title in the 1500 on Saturday after placing second in the 3000 meters on Friday.
He was disappointed with himself in the 3000 for going out too fast with an early group.
"I had a plan and my plan was to hit certain paces per lap and just try to burn out my competition," Wasson said. "I got thrown off right at the beginning because everybody went out super fast. I didn't have the confidence to hang back and hit my paces."
On Saturday, he was determined to stick to his plan and he felt strong physically despite the rigors of the 3000 the day before.
"I felt the best that I felt all that weekend," Wasson said.
Wasson stalked the leaders through the 1500 and made his move with about 300 meters left to run. He had more than enough left in the tank to pull away for a convincing victory in 4 minutes, 9.94 seconds.
Oakland's Wyatt Smith was second in 4:12.62.
"It felt really amazing. It's something I've wanted for four years of high school. It felt amazing to finally get it," Wasson said.
Also on Saturday, junior Christian Wilson topped the field in the 110 meter hurdles, finishing in 15.52 seconds. Drew Bernards of Faith Bible was second in 15.7.
Peters said Wilson had put in the work to be a state champion.
"Christian has been working hard since the fall when we were doing a little bit of training in the mornings before school a couple of days a week doing hurdle practice," Peters said.
On Friday, senior Matthew Reardon survived a shaky start to win the pole vault with a mark of 13 feet, 6 inches. He missed on his first two attempts at his opening height. In an effort to raise his maximum height he was using a new, longer pole and he wasn't completely comfortable with it.
Once he got going, however, he set a new personal best and school record as he claimed the state title.
“I think I could have gotten 13-9,” he said. “I was honestly pretty exhausted by the end. I’m happy. It’s a six-inch PR, new school record.”
Reardon also place fourth in the triple jump with a mark at 40-9¼.
First-place finishes aren't enough to win a state team title. Senior Ben Johnson earned points in the high jump and discus.
“It kind of takes pressure off yourself a little bit just because you have your teammates around you that you can do well,” said Johnson, third in the high jump (personal-best 6 feet, 2 inches) and fourth in the discus (128-7). “That motivates you to do well, so it’s really nice to have.”
The ELCA girls placed 16th in the team standings. The Eagles were paced by Lilyanne Savage, who placed fifth in the 100 hurdles (17.57 seconds) and seventh in the 300 hurdles (51.30).
Grace Wilson was sixth in the triple jump 32-7½.
Gazette-Times reporter Jesse Sowa contributed to this story.