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Liberty track nabs second at districts

Falcons win seven events and qualify 14 for state meet


SANDY — Quite simply, Liberty brought it.

Last Thursday and Friday, the Falcons track and field teams proved themselves among the Northwest Oregon Conference’s best, with both the boys’ and girls’ sides finishing second at the district meet at Sandy High School.

The Liberty boys racked up 108 points, finishing behind only the host team, while the Falcons girls scored 134 points to come in behind Wilsonville. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Liberty's Jon Horn uncorks a personal-best throw of 50-8 1/2 to win the shot put at last week's NWOC district track meet.

In all, the Falcons picked up seven wins and qualified eight girls — including both relay teams — and six boys for the Class 5A state meet, which kicks off this morning at Hayward Field in Eugene.

“Especially as a team all together, it’s really satisfying to know that we have such a strong team,” said Sarah Martinez, referring to both the girls and boys teams. “We’re taking the most individuals to state that we have ever before. I really like how senior year, I just feel like the track team has been really, really strong and solid.”

Not surprisingly, Eli Pecsok, Rachel Khaw and Martinez led the way in Sandy, with each girl picking up two titles. Pecsok and Martinez also qualified for state in the maximum four events. Jon Horn and Dominick Marshall both won an event for Liberty’s boys, and Horn and distance runner Michael Francy advanced in two events each.

Pecsok earned her state berths all in individual events. On Thursday, she posted a season best in the high jump of 5 feet, 4 inches before coming back Friday to win the shot put (41-3½) and finish second in both the 100 hurdles (15.48 seconds, a PR) and triple jump (34-10). The senior has now won six NWOC titles.

“I made it to state in all four events, and that’s what I wanted to do, so I feel pretty solid,” said Pecsok, whose season bests in all four events rank in the top three in Class 5A.

Martinez picked up her first-ever individual NWOC victory in the 400 (1:00.62), and she, along with Ashley Martin, Megan Rose and Khaw, closed out the meet with a win in the 4x400 relay in 4:03.60, breaking the school record for the second time this spring.

The senior also took second to Milwaukie’s Tieara Norman in the 300 hurdles in a PR of 45.88, and she teamed with Bonnie Romeo, MacKenzie Beeler, and Martin for second in the 4x100 relay (50.28).

Khaw, the 2013 league champion in the 3,000, set a PR and a school record in that event (10:31.01), chasing Wilsonville’s Taryn Rawlings (10:26.47) over the last lap, and she earned the second individual title of her young career the following day in the 1,500 (4:54.19). Khaw placed in both of those events at the 2013 state meet as a freshman.

Other top Liberty girls performers included Rose (third, 400, 1:01.86), Romeo (fourth, 200, 27.23; sixth, 100, 13.21); Beeler (fourth, 100, 13.07), Tessa Moody (fourth, discus, 108-8), Simone Wilson (fourth, javelin, 111-8), Alina Munoz Licea (fifth, 100 hurdles, 16.93; sixth, 300 hurdles, 50.69), and Tiana Dolson (fifth, triple jump, 32-11; eighth, long jump, 15-4¾).

On Thursday, Horn launched a personal-best throw of 50-8½ to win the shot put and claim a bit of atonement. A state qualifier in the javelin two years ago, Horn said he entered last year’s district meet overconfident and he “cracked under pressure.” He failed to advance.

Not so this time around.

“I knew what to look for, what to be prepared for, what not to do this year,” Horn said. “I’m super happy that I could make it back.”

Horn’s success this year has come despite his being plagued by various knee problems that have limited some of the movements he uses in the throws.

He competed Friday with both knees taped, but the ailments did not stop him from unloading on his fifth and penultimate attempt for that personal best, which bumped him from second place to first.

“This year, it’s my senior year,” Horn said. “I don’t have another year to go to state, so I have to make it work for me.”

The meet got even better for Horn on Friday, as he added a state qualification in the javelin (second, 182-3) with a throw just six inches shorter than his all-time best.

Francy recorded PRs and new school records in both of his races. On Thursday, he battled Sandy’s Isaac Mitchell step for step in the 3,000 until the lanky Pioneer pulled away on the last lap and finished about five seconds up on Francy’s 8:53.87. The Falcon finished second to Mitchell again the following day in the 1,500, running 4:07.29 to Mitchell’s 4:06.28.

Nick Bonat absolutely crushed the 110 hurdles preliminaries with a huge personal best of 14.72 — the second-fastest time in Class 5A this spring — before following it up with a 15.55 in Friday’s final for second place. He added a third-place finish in the 300 hurdles (42.54).

Josh Cole booked a repeat trip to state in the 400 with a second place in a school-record time of 49.84 and added a fifth in the 200 (23.16), while Dominick Marshall (1:58.31) and Austin Finster (1:58.45) made it a 1-2 Liberty sweep in the 800.

Other top performers for Liberty’s boys were Byron Greenlee (fourth, shot put, 44-6; sixth, discus, 132-7), Nkole Mwansa (sixth, 100, 11.65), Matthew Langbehn (fifth, 400, 52.36), the short relay of Bonat, Langbehn, Cole and Spencer Brown (third, 44.61) and the long relay of Cole, Marshall, Francy and Finster (third, 3:29.58).



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