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TRACK: Emily Bever returns from layoff, qualifies for state meet in 800, 1,500 and 4x400 relay

by: JIM BESEDA/MOLALLA PIONEER - Molalla's Emily Bever wins the 800-meter run for the fourth consecutive season while younger sister Audrey Bever overtakes La Salle's Kate Christoferson for second place at Saturday's Tri-Valley Conference track and field district championships at North Marion High School.If Molalla’s Emily Bever developed some rust during her recent one-month layoff from competitive running, it didn’t show Saturday at North Marion High School.

Bever, racing for the first time since straining her left hamstring on April 16, looked strong and confident as she completed an impressive distance double at Saturday’s Tri-Valley Conference track and field district championships, winning her fourth consecutive girls’ 800-meter title and a third consecutive 1,500-meter title.

Bever capped her performance by running the anchor leg on the Indians’ winning 4x400 relay, crossing the finish line in a time of 4 minutes, 14.44 seconds to qualify for next week’s OSAA Class 4A state championships beginning Friday at Hayward Field in Eugene.

by: JIM BESEDA/MOLALLA PIONEER - Molalla freshman Rachel Bring won the girls' shot put with a throw of 33 feet, 11 inches at Saturday's district championships at North Marion High School.Molalla freshman Rachel Bring qualified for state in two events, placing second in the discus with a toss of 100 feet, 3 inches, and then winning the shot put with a throw of 33-11. Sophomore Audrey Bever also qualified, finishing second to her older sister in the 800 with a personal best time of 2:27.06.

Sophomore Brianna Loughridge qualified during Friday’s finals, successfully defending her district 3,000 title in a time of 11:25.53.

On the boys’ side, Molalla is sending the 4x100 relay team of Scott Chance, Payton Dobbs, Brody Olson and Gavin Thrower to state, as well as the 4x400 relay team of Fortino Medina, Chance, Dobbs and Olson.

by: JIM BESEDA/MOLALLA PIONEER - Molalla's Brody Olson brings home the baton in the boys' 4x400 relay in a winning time of 3:31.20 at Saturday's Tri-Valley Conference track and field district championships.Two other personal bests also produced state berths as Chance, the senior sprint specialist, finished second in the 400 with a time of 51.31 seconds, while sophomore Drew Vandenbroeder placed second in the 110 high hurdles with a time of 15.94.

Senior Darian Baughman also earned a state berth for the Indians after placing second in the long jump with a leap of 20-1 1/4 during Friday’s finals.

Emily Bever’s season took an unexpected turn when the two-time defending state champion in the 800 strained her hamstring while running the 4x400 relay in a meet at Estacada.

In the weeks that followed, she tended to err on the side of caution with her training, not wanting to risk aggravating her injury and possibly jeopardizing her opportunity to pursue a third consecutive state title in the 800.

“I’ve been doing some fast things in practice, but it’s practice and it’s never going to be quite at the competition level,” Bever said. “So I wasn’t exactly sure how my muscles would react to the change.

“Because I’ve been a runner for a long time, I was most concerned that taking a few weeks off would drop my fitness level. Before I was injured, I was at a really high fitness level, and I would have been really upset if I’d lost what I’d worked so hard for.”

Most of her concerns were put to rest in the 1,500 as Bever easily broke from the pack with two laps to go and cruised to the win in 5:11.31, finishing more than three seconds ahead of La Salle’s Kate Christoferson.

“It was kind of confirmation for me that, yes, I’m still the same runner that I was and that I do have all the strength and the speed that I had before the injury,” Bever said.

In the 800, Bever went to the front from the start and set a respectable pace without pushing herself to any extremes, winning in 2:25.51 — more than 12 seconds off her personal best set at last year’s state meet.

by: JIM BESEDA/MOLALLA PIONEER - Sisters Emily Bever (left) and Audrey Bever embrace after finishing 1-2, respectively, in the girls' 800-meter race and qualify for next week's OSAA Class 4A track and field state championships in Eugene.The real race in the 800 was for second as Audrey Bever ran down Christoferson about 50 meters from the finish and edged the La Salle junior by less than six-tenths of a second for a berth in the state meet.

In the 4x400 relay, Molalla’s Desiirae DesRosiers, Josie Child and Audrey Bever went all out on the first three legs and opened a commanding lead that allowed Emily Bever to run the final leg at whatever pace she felt most comfortable running.

“I was very thankful for my teammates,” said Emily Bever, who crossed the finish line more than six seconds ahead of La Salle’s anchor. “They did so well on their legs that I had quite a cushion.

“When I got about 200 meters into the race, I didn’t feel anything painful. I just knew that I was safe enough not to push myself to the limit. And I think pushing myself to the limit could have been bad.”

Emily Bever undoubtedly will run the 800 and the 4x400 relay at the state meet. The question is, will she drop out of the 1,500 as she has the past two seasons, or will the BYU-bound runner look to double in her final state meet appearance?

At this point, she is undecided.

She’s mostly concerned with trying to chase down a third consecutive 800 state title.

“That’s a really rare and amazing opportunity and I’m really thankful that I have the opportunity, because most people don’t get that kind of chance,” Bever said. “I don’t think it’s all because of me. I’ve had a lot of support and I’m just really blessed to be where I’m at. So many things could have gone wrong that didn’t.”

-- Jim Beseda / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

by: JIM BESEDA, MOLALLA PIONEER - Molalla's girls' 4x400 meter relay team of Desiirae DesRosiers, Emily Bever, Josie Child and Audrey Bever relax Saturday after posting a winning time of 4:14.44 in qualifying for next week's Class 4A track and field state championships in Eugene.


Note: Molalla's Josie Child, who ran the second leg of the girls' 4x400 relay, was misidentified in an earlier version of this story.




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