Lane’s track and field program has made winning the regional championship almost an annual event.
At the May 9 regional championship in Gresham, the Titans men scored 225 points and edged out the second place Clackamas Community College Cougars by 23 points to claim their 11th consecutive regional title. Lane’s women’s squad dominated every section of the meet in a 250-point performance, outscoring the second place Cougars by 65.5 points on the way to their sixth straight title.
“It was, for both squads, a dress rehearsal for NWAACCs,” Lane head coach Grady O’Connor said. “Our goal was to compete for position and place, instead of trying to chase marks.”
Sophomore Kara Hallock, who finished second in the NWAACC Heptathlon Championship earlier this month, led all athletes with a 46-point performance. Hallock finished first in the 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles and long jump. She placed second in the high jump and set season-best times in both hurdle events.
On the men’s side, freshman Trever Walker earned top-athlete honors by placing fourth or better in three different throwing events to earn 23 crucial points for Lane. Walker finished first in the shot put, second in the hammer toss and fourth in the discus throw.
Three other Lane athletes scored 16 points or more, led by sophomore Diego Gonzalez, who scored in the triple and long jump events, as well as the 400-meter dash.
The Titans won 13 total events, nine of which came from the women’s side. Sophomore Madison Seaman placed second in the shot put, discus and hammer throw, while sophomore Jhazelle Ambus won both the 100 and 200-meter dashes.
The Titans will compete in the NWAACC Championships in Spokane, Wash, on May 19- 20. Lane’s men’s and women’s teams were both crowned champions last season, and both will be in contention to do so again.
O’Connor said he sees the Cougars, as well as the Community Colleges of Spokane Sasquatch, as the strongest competition on both the men’s and women’s sides.
Clackamas did not have all their top athletes on full display at regionals, and it is likely that they will give the Titans a greater challenge in Spokane. Budane Sultessa is the top 800-meter runner in the conference but did not compete at regionals, and Elizabeth Venzon is the NWAACC heptathlon champion but only competed in two events
After several Titan athletes suffered injuries at last week’s Oregon State University High Performance meet, O’Connor said he was planning to limit the number of events his athletes participated in at regionals in order to prevent any further injuries.
O’Connor stuck to that plan, but the Titans were unable to escape the meet entirely healthy. Sophomore Dylan Hamming and freshman Mackenzie Folkerts both came away from regionals with nagging injuries, and O’Connor is unsure if they will be able to contribute at the NWAACC championships.
“That’s the worry we had going up there — getting somebody hurt,” O’Connor said.
“That’s just the nature of the meet. The nature of the sport. We can’t dwell on it. We just need to rally and support those guys, and hopefully, somebody else will fill the void.”