Morgan Hopkins is a big-game player.
The Lebanon High School junior won the shot put at the Mid-Willamette Conference district track and field championships with a throw of 36 feet, 101/2 inches on Wednesday, May 9, at Heath Stadium.
In addition to conference bragging rights, the victory also gives Hopkins the opportunity to defend her 5A state title in the event. Hopkins stunned the field with a throw of 38-81/2 to win the event as a sophomore.
Hopkins was pleased with her effort at the district meet but does not feel that she has hit her peak this season.
“I felt like I had a good throw coming, and I still feel that way,” Hopkins said. “(It) was a great throw, but I feel like I have more in me.”
Hopkins acknowledged that her experience last year has boosted her confidence and aided her performance. She is able to relax and not be overwhelmed by the pressure and frenzy of big meets. She imagines that she is just throwing at practice and not with a title on the line.
“Last year made me realize I can hit a big mark,” Hopkins said. “I can do it, so I just need to do it.”
Hopkins wasn’t the only Warrior to have a strong meet.
Senior Tanner Acosta qualified for state in the high jump with a mark of 6 feet, 1 inch. South Albany’s Logan Whittaker topped the field with a jump of 6-2.
Acosta’s jump matched his personal best and came at an opportune time as he qualified for state.
“It was huge for me personally,” Acosta said. “It’s something that I’ve been wanting for so long.”
Three more Warriors qualified for state with their performances on the second day of the district meet Thursday, May 10.
Senior Kyler Alley capped off his strong showing late in the season with a strong performance in the javelin at the conference championships. He placed second with a best throw of 146-2. Teammate Dillan Weber, who was the second seed in the event based on regular-season performance, placed fifth with a top throw of 144-6.
Silverton’s Blake Doerfler won the event with a mark of 161-10. The competition was held in tough conditions, windy and wet. But Alley, a three-year member of the track and field team, persevered and achieved his dream of qualifying for state.
“This is what I’ve been working for,” Alley said, adding that he was confident a state berth was possible. “My form has gotten better and my confidence is growing.”
Senior Hannah Mason ran a strong race in the 1,500 meters to place second and qualify for state. She matched the quick early pace and held onto second place until just before the halfway mark of the race.
“I wanted to stay with the top pack. That was my plan,” Mason said.
Just before the halfway point in the race, Mason was passed by Crescent Valley’s Sunitha Black. At that point the battle for the second automatic state qualifying bid began in earnest. Mason ran doggedly, not allowing Black to create any separation.
Black held a slim lead over Mason as the runners came around the final corner and entered the home stretch. Mason had enough energy remaining to overtake Black with about 50 meters left in the race and to hold the advantage to the finish line.
“I just kind of went for it,” Mason said. “It’s my senior year, there’s nothing to lose.”
Mason crossed the line in 4 minutes, 56.71 seconds. Black was third with a time of 4:58.62. Crescent Valley sophomore Sophie Fisher was first in 4:43.73.
Lebanon junior Raymond Knuth also qualified for state in the 100 meters with a time of 11.31 seconds.
For a time, it appeared that Knuth was also going to qualify for state as a member of the 4x100 relay team. The Warriors team of Knuth, Acosta, Daniel Hassenger and Avraj Dhote crossed the line in second place.
But the race had a wild finish, especially during hand-off before the anchor legs, and four squads, including the Warriors, were disqualified.
This was the second year in a row that Lebanon hosted the conference championships and head coach Josh Dykes was appreciative of the hard work done by the members of the staff and the many volunteers. He was also pleased with the overall effort of his team.
“We had a lot of kids compete well and finish above seed,” Dykes said.
For the state qualifiers, the season is not over.
The 5A state track and field championships will be held Friday and Saturday at historic Hayward Field in Eugene.
Corvallis Gazette-Times reporter Jesse Sowa contributed to this story.
Team scores: Silverton 121, Crescent Valley 103, Central 100, Dallas 87, South Albany 78, Lebanon 72, Corvallis 59, Woodburn 21
Winners and Lebanon placers
3,000: 1. Ian Vickstrom, Corvallis, 8:53.03
Pole vault: 1. Isaac Rush, Silverton, 13-10; 7. Austin Mustoe, Lebanon, 10-0
Long jump: 1. Evan Courtney, Dallas, 21-8½
High jump: 1. Logan Whittaker, South Albany, 6-2; 2. Tanner Acosta, Lebanon 6-1
Discus: 1. Payton Wright, Corvallis, 139-9; 3. Freddy Buresh, Lebanon, 123-9; 5. Alec Fillmore, Lebanon, 117-10; 8. Zar Grimes, Lebanon, 116-3
4x100 relay: 1. Central (Robert DeLeon, Cody Baldwin, Isaac Burgett, Isaiah Abraham) 43.69
1,500: 1. Giovanni Bravo, Woodburn, 4:04.41
100: 1. Malaki Connella, Dallas, 11.03; 2. Raymond Knuth, Lebanon, 11.31; 7. Brock Barrett, Lebanon, 11.89
400: 1. Isaac Burgett, Central, 50.14
110 hurdles: 1. Jaydon Aydelotte, Central, 15.61; 4. Dane Sipos, Lebanon, 16.93; 8. David Brown, Lebanon, 18.21
800: 1. AJ Sandvig, Crescent Valley, 2:00.33
200: 1. Malaki Connella, Dallas, 22.51; 3. Tanner Acosta, Lebanon, 23.52
300 hurdles: 1. Bradley Johnston, South Albany, 41.37; 5. Dane Sipos, Lebanon, 43.88
4x400 relay: 1. Crescent Valley (Ian Geniza, Ben Canfield, Drew Roberts, AJ Sandvig), 3:29.58; 8. Lebanon (Tanner Acosta, Dane Sipos, Brock Barrett, Alex Solberg) 3:47.43
Triple jump: 1. Logan Whittaker, South Albany, 42-2¾; 5. Daniel Hassenger, Lebanon, 39-11
Shot put: 1. Cameron Sanders, Crescent Valley, 46-2; 7. Freddy Buresh, Lebanon, 40-9
Javelin: 1. Blake Doerfler, Silverton, 161-10; 2. Kyler Alley, Lebanon, 146-2; 5. Dillan Weber, Lebanon, 144-6; 7. Nathan Campbell, Lebanon, 139-2
Team scores: Corvallis 137, Crescent Valley 128, Silverton 107.33, Lebanon 77.83, Central 64.33, Dallas 55, South Albany 46.5, Woodburn 0
Winners and Lebanon placers
3,000: 1. Sophie Fisher, Crescent Valley, 10:22.41; 4. Hannah Mason, Lebanon, 11:05.81; 5. Amy Workman, Lebanon, 11:14.07; 8. Dina Altuhov, Lebanon, 11:58.03
Long jump: 1. Emily Candee, Silverton, 16-7
Shot put: 1. Morgan Hopkins, Lebanon, 36-10½; 3. Jastyn Shilts, Lebanon, 34-3
Javelin: 1. Emma Rockwell, Silverton, 116-7; 4. Ashlyn McMullan, Lebanon, 111-9; 8. Hollie Johnson, Lebanon, 92-1
4x100 relay: 1. Central (Morgen Metzger, Bethanie Altimirano, Samantha Londigan, Ana Becerra) 51.07
1,500: 1. Sophie Fisher, Corvallis, 4:43.73; 2. Hannah Mason, Lebanon, 4:56.71; 6. Amy Workman, Lebanon
100: 1. Elise Bedford, Corvallis, 13.11
400: 1. Bethanie Altimirano, Central, 1:01.07
100 hurdles: 1. Jordyn Edwards, Crescent Valley, 15.52; 5. Hanna Davis, Lebanon, 17.89; 7. Danyel Davis, Lebanon, 19.35
800: 1. Geneva Wolfe, Crescent Valley, 2:23.08
200: 1. Bethanie Altimirano, Central, 26.72; 7. Annie Croco, Lebanon, 28.39
300 hurdles: 1. Jordyn Edwards, Crescent Valley, 47.48; 3. Hanna Davis, Lebanon, 49.43
4x400 relay: 1. Silverton (Katie Sinn, Elizabeth Schmitz, Jori Paradis, Addie Schmitz) 4:11.5; 6. Lebanon (Amy Workman, Annie Croco, Hannah Mason, Jastyn Shilts) 4:32.91
Pole vault: 1. Sydney Montesi, Corvallis, 10-6; 8. (tie) Alyssa Berg, Lebanon, 6-6
High jump: 1. Katie Mayhue, South Albany, 5-2; 4. (tie) Maddie Harvey, Lebanon, 4-8
Discus: 1. Ellie Harding, Corvallis, 121-1; 5. Morgan Hopkins, Lebanon, 93-4
Triple jump: 1. Hailey VanWell, Dallas, 34-10½; 4. (tie) Sara Moretto, Lebanon, and Natali Tomlin, Lebanon, 32-7