The Lebanon track and field team did not send a large contingent to the OSAA state track and field championships at Mt. Angel.

But the athletes who did qualify had a very successful weekend.

Lebanon senior Morgan Hopkins won the shot put with a throw of 38 feet, 6½ inches. Hopkins was a surprise winner in that same event as a sophomore at the 2017 5A state championships.

This second title capped a long journey back following a somewhat disappointing junior year in 2018. After a long stretch in which her personal best in the event stagnated, Hopkins demonstrated she was back on the right track earlier this season when she posted a throw of 40-01/4 at the Rob Allen Twilight Invitational.

Hopkins went on to win the district meet and capped her high school career with the state championship.

“It was a great feeling knowing that I was able to learn from last year, grow from it, mature and do better this year,” Hopkins said. “It was a good learning experience and I’m happy with how this year turned out.”

Hopkins also claimed second place in the discus with a throw of 112-9.

Lebanon coach Cameron Eberhart said Hopkins had a great year and he credited the assistant coaches for helping her refocus on the fundamentals as she

"Really coming back to some of those basics of what she was trying to accomplish through warm-ups and practice and just really fine-tuning some of those skills," Eberhart said.

He also felt Hopkins had a very positive mental approach to her senior season.

"She wasn't as stressed out about it nearly as much this year. She was more go-with-the-flow and it opened up her mind to be able to pop out some great throws this season," Eberhart said.

Fellow senior Isabella Ayala set a new personal best in the 3000 meters at state, improving by about 15 seconds with her time of 10 minutes, 40.21 seconds. She placed ninth in that event, just missing out on a medal.

"It was a great race," Eberhart said. "There's no complaint there when you're coming out with a PR. We were super-happy with the 3000."

Ayala did earn a medal in the 1500 meters, placing eighth on Saturday in a time of 4:55.38. Ayala got caught up in an early push which went against her plan, but she was able to push through and finish on the podium.

Ayala placed third in the 1500 meters at the Mid-Willamette Conference district meet to earn a wild card to state in that event. But she was surprised to qualify in the 3000 after placing sixth at the district meet. Four runners from the conference earned wild cards in the event, demonstrating the depth of talent in girls distance racing in the league.

"I was kind of just running to run. I was just happy to be there. I really wasn't expecting to go in the 3000,"  Ayala said. "I really enjoy racing. It was just fun."

The only other Warrior to compete at the state meet was sophomore Danyel Davis, who received a wild card in the 100 hurdles after placing fourth at the district meet.

"She was super-excited about getting to make it on that wild card. We weren't sure if it was going to happen or not, we were hopeful and it came through," Eberhart said. 

Davis did not advance past the state preliminaries, but gained valuable experience for the future.

"Big dreams and lots of promise for what's to come for her," Eberhart said. "She's just an all-around great athlete and we're going to see what she can do continuing on in the hurdles, but also in the long jump and with our relays as well."

Gazette-Times reporter Jesse Sowa contributed to this story.


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