With the district meet just a month away, the Cottage Grove track and field team got a first-hand look at the competition in the Sky-Em league last week.
“As far as we’re looking, it’s a work in progress for this year,” said first year CGHS track and field coach Gyna Walton. “We’ve got some work to do.”
While the Lions have won both the boys district title and Sky-Em coed title for the past three seasons, the team championship run could be coming to an end this year. After the graduation of most state scorers from a year ago plus the addition of top track and field schools in Marist and Marshfield to the league, it would be a tall task for the Lions to get back to that success this year.
Saturday at a rainy Marist Track Classic, the Cottage Grove boys finished eighth out of 10 teams including half a point behind league-foe Siuslaw. While 6A powerhouse Jesuit won the meet, the other notable Sky-Em finishes were Marist in fourth place and Marshfield in fifth.
“Score-wise, we kind of learned that Marist is right above us so we know that Marshfield and Marist are going to be the ones we need to beat, pretty much,” said Walton.
The top scorer for the Lions at the meet was junior Mitchell Krokus who finished with 13 individual points of the team’s 33.5 points. Krokus was third in both long and triple jump, took eighth in the 100 and anchored the 4x100 team of Fernando Soto-Crus, Drake English and Rodas Rodas Martin to a fifth place finish.
Krokus currently has the top mark in the Sky-Em in triple jump, second best in long jump and third in the 100.
“His drive is just amazing. That kid is always working hard. He’s one of, I’d say, the hardest working kids on our team,” said Walton.
On the track, the Cottage Grove distance group scored points with junior Jimmy Talley finishing fourth in the 800. While fourth in the race, the time of 2:03.82 vaulted Talley to third in the Sky-Em at that distance and fourth in 4A. Sophomore Drew Chapman finished eighth in an especially competitive 1500.
The Lions also picked up points in high jump where senior Erick Giffen finished third and Isaac Stere and Evan Snauer slotted in at seventh. Luke Johns finished seventh in pole vault.
For the Cottage Grove girls, the team finished in seventh place with 35 points. Jesuit claimed first while Marshfield, Marist and Siuslaw were third, fourth and fifth respectively.
One of the top finishers of the day for the Lions was senior Riley Hutchins who took second in javelin.
“She went in fourth or fifth and came out second. So that was kind of exciting,” said Walton. “And she’s my senior captain so that was kind of nice. Not a (personal record) for her but a season record.” Freshman Gracie Arnold was seventh in the competition.
The other second-place finish was from sophomore Matty Ladd in the high jump with a height of four-foot-10. Arnold was fourth while Avery Hutchins was seventh in the event. In the pole vault, Adelle Kent finished fourth.
On the track sophomore Annah Nyburg placed seventh in the 1500 while the 4x100 team of Piper Youngmayr, Katie Geisler, Payton Cameron and Ladd claimed sixth.
Earlier in the week, the Lions competed at Junction City. While titled the Sky-Em League JV Meet, top athletes from both Cottage Grove and Junction City were sprinkled throughout the competition.
The Cottage Grove girls took first at the meet with 115 points. Leading the way was Ladd who finished first in the 100, high jump and triple jump. The Lions finished in the top three spots in both the high jump (Arnold second, Avery Hutchins third) and triple jump (Cameron second, Avery Hutchins third). Arnold also took first in javelin while Kent won the pole vault for the Lions and Raina Herzog was second in shot put.
The Cottage Grove boys took second place behind Junction City on Tuesday. Krokus took first in the 100, long jump and triple jump. The Lions also had top finishes in the distance races with Chapman in the 800, Paesen Timm in the 1500 and Talley in the 3000. Talley’s time of 9:23 is the fastest in districts and the third best time in 4A. Steere took first in high jump.