Jarrid Denney & Marilyn Walker
On a weekend in which a high school phenom stole the show with a historic performance, 23 Titan athletes took strides toward their ultimate goal of a conference championship during the Oregon Relays at Hayward Field on April 17-18.
The meet featured many teams from large universities, including University of Oregon and Oregon State University, as well as Clackamas Community College, one of Lane’s main rivals. Some of the top prep athletes from Oregon and Washington also competed in a scored high school meet.
In total, nine Titan athletes set personal best marks while enjoying the experience of competing at one of track and field’s most historic venues.
“You can’t compare it to anything else,” freshman sprinter Michael Capri said. “Hayward is magic.”
Capri was one of several Titan sprinters who took advantage of the fair conditions and strong competition.
Capri, as well as freshman Ben Kelly and sophomores Jesse Goodier and Ceasar Rodriguez all set personal bests in a sprint event during the meet.
Lane track and field head coach Grady O’Connor mentioned the depth of the sprinters as one the strong points of his men’s squad.
“Our whole sprint core is pretty high up the form chart, and really some of our better guys haven’t [competed] yet,” O’Connor said.
Kelly owns the fastest 100 meter and 200 meter times among all Northwest Athletic Conference athletes, and Goodier has run the fastest 400 meter time.
Sophomore Rohan Cain won the NWAC championship in the 400-meter dash last year and is currently training through an injury, while Capri owns the second fastest time in the conference and has yet to top his fastest high school time.
Lane’s distance runners set the tone for the Titans early in the meet. Freshman Ben Harter smashed his personal best and ran the second fastest 5,000 meter time in the NWAC this season with a time of 15:26.02.
Sophomores Jonathan Cornish and Nicole Maurmann placed seventh and 16th in the 1,500-meter B-section, respectively, while David Cornish finished seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:41.73.
In the pole vault, sophomore Anna Loken and freshman Marissa Taylor both cleared 11’5.75″ to tie for fourth place, and freshman Sam Nichols threw the discus 147’3″ and placed eighth.
Freshman Josh Rambert ran the second fastest 400-meter hurdle time in the conference in his first race in a Titan uniform, and freshman Taylor Boyer, who starred on the Titans’ soccer team last fall, ran a time of 12.6 seconds in the 100-meter dash.
A handful of former Titan standouts also competed at the meet.
Allie Church finished third in the women’s 100-meter dash with a time of 12.08 seconds, and Macaulay Wilson placed 13th in the women’s 800-meter run. Both now compete for OSU.
Dakarai Hightower, competing unattached, dominated the men’s high jump in what was one of the most exciting events of the meet.
Hightower cleared 7’2.5″ on his final attempt to claim victory, and barely missed on 7’5.25″. That mark would have put him an inch away from the meet record.
Hightower won the NWAC championship last season for the Titans, and was recently named the USA Track & Field Pacific Northwest Field Athlete of the Year.
Ultimately it was Matthew Maton, a senior from Summit High School in Bend, Ore., who registered the most memorable performance of the weekend.
Maton, who has signed to run at UO next season, placed third in the 1,500-meter run while going toe-to-toe with a field of collegiate and professional runners. His time of 3:42.54 broke Olympian Galen Rupp’s state record by nearly three seconds, and was the third fastest high school time in American history.
UO alum and two-time NCAA champion Mac Fleet won the race with a time 3:40.52.