The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, April 14, 2017, WEEKEND EDITION, Page 1C, Image 17

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Laura Sellers | Weekend Editor
Gary Henley/The Daily Astorian
Hail dusted the track at The Daily Astorian meet on Saturday in Seaside.
The Daily Astorian
he athletes stood on the eight-lane track at
Seaside High School, shivering slightly while
waiting in their lanes for the starter’s com-
mand to take their marks.
As if on cue, the already blustery wind picked
up and cold, driving rain began blowing across the
track. Yet the runners in the girl’s 400 meter race of
the 29th Annual Daily Astorian High School Invita-
tional last Saturday stood their ground while continu-
ing to stretch and warm up for the race, undeterred
even as pebble-sized hail began
pelting them and the track.
In that brief moment the
girls seemed unfazed as their
competitiveness began to sur-
face. For some who were
watching, including myself, it
brought back memories of years of hard training,
running and jumping and the competitive spirit it
brought out each time — the internal will to win, the
challenge to do your best.
As the hail grew in intensity, the track meet’s
director quickly waved the girls off the track and told
everyone from the 12 participating schools and the
spectators to take shelter.
Everyone did, mostly huddling together in wel-
coming pop-up tents that dotted the track’s perim-
eter, allowing the athletes to rest and dodge the ele-
ments. Moments later the track looked like a frozen
lake with the white ice completely obscuring the
black asphalt surface,
‘Like no other’
As one teen age competitor jogged past heading
to the sheltered concession area he told a teammate,
“Man this meet is like no other I’ve ever run in.” His
teammate, also on the move, quickly chimed back,
“Yeah, you sure got that one right.”
Yes, he certainly did. Even in my own seven
years of competitive running, I never had to compete
with the elements that the teams did last Saturday.
Rain, yes. Wind, sometimes. Cold, not so much. And
hail, well hail no, we didn’t get much of that in South
Florida where I grew up or in Gainesville where I
graduated from college.
Within a few minutes Mother Nature’s inter-
ference subsided and dedicated volunteers began
push-brooming the hail off the track to ensure the
safety of the runners. When the events resumed a
few minutes later it was as if the weather had never
intervened. The sun began peeking through the gray
sky and the wind subsided somewhat. The runners
were back to their marks and then swiftly sprinting
around the track after the starter raised his arm and
fi red his pistol.
Family and friends yelled encouragement to each
runner, even when the competitors were nearly a
football fi eld away striding around the track. Like
runners leaning to the fi nish, spectators lining the
track leaned forward to get a better view as each of
the runners strained and stretched to cross the line.
It was a close race, with Knappa High School’s
Devin Vandergriff winning with a margin of about
eight-tenths of a second. Nearly every other event
featured exciting fi nishes, and the fi eld events had
their share of dramatic endings, too.
Personal and season bests
Despite the weather conditions, the 300 partici-
pating boys and girls posted dozens of personal and
season bests in the various events. One of the meet
records nearly fell in my favor-
ite event, the 800 meters, with
Seaside’s Jackson Januik win-
ning with a time that was only
four one-hundredths of a sec-
ond off the record that had been
set in 1993.
The Daily Astorian Invitational is unlike other
track meets in that no team scores are kept, the focus
is on the individual competitors. Medals are awarded
for fi rst place fi nishers and ribbons go to the second
through fi fth place competitors in each event. Two
boys and two girls are also recognized for outstand-
ing performances in the running events and the fi eld
Astoria’s Natalie Cummings, who earned four
fi rst place fi nishes including relays, and North Mar-
ion’s Emily Scanlan, who had a fi rst, a second and
two thirds, were honored as the meet’s outstanding
female runners. Taylor Cosner of Astoria had three
podium fi nishes and Eliza Bannister of Ilwaco had
four to earn the awards for outstanding female ath-
letes in the fi eld events,
On the boys side, Seaside’s Juneau Meyer cap-
tured fi rsts in three events, and Vernonia’s Clay Sul-
livan had a fi rst and two seconds to earn outstanding
male runner awards. Warrenton’s Tyler Whitaker had
two fi rsts and two seconds and Astoria’s Tim Barnett
had two fi rsts and a second and were recognized as
the outstanding male athletes in the fi eld events.
It was easy to see as a spectator that each of the
athletes who competed in the meet gave it their all.
W riter’s
N otebook
‘Like being a sprinter’
As the great Olympic gold medalist Michael
Johnson once said, “Life is often compared to a mar-
athon, but I think it is more like being a sprinter; long
stretches of hard work punctuated by brief moments
in which we are given the opportunity to perform at
our best.”
In watching the meet, I know just how hard those
athletes worked to earn those medals and ribbons
and how much sense of accomplishment they fulfi ll
and the pride they inspire. Even after all these years
I still have all of mine.
David Pero is the editor and publisher of The
Daily Astorian.
Damian Mulinix/For The Daily Astorian
Astoria’s Darian Hageman placed second in the girls long jump
with a distance of 15-feet-5.5.
Photos by Damian Mulinix/For The Daily Astorian
LEFT: Seaside’s Phoenix Johnson set a new personal and took third in the boys high jump, clearing 5-feet-8. MIDDLE: Seaside senior Bradley Rzewnicki won
the boys 1,500 at Saturday’s Daily Astorian meet in a time of 4:22.53. RIGHT: Astoria senior Cole Olson won the boys pole vault by clearing a height of 9-feet-6.