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Big breakthrough for Rams, as girls bring home trophy

Relay teams score big points in close 6A win over Grant


by: COURTESY OF CENTRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL - Central Catholics state champion girls track and field team poses with members of the Rams boys squad, which placed 10th in the Class 6A meet at Hayward Field in Eugene.With Grant and Central Catholic separated by just one point heading into the penultimate race of the OSAA girls track and field state championships, the 4x400-meter decided which East Portland team would run away with the Class 6A crown.

“Everything led up to that race, so it was the perfect set up,” says Michael Bergmann, Central Catholic girls coach.

In the end May 24 at Hayward Field, Central Catholic’s team of Cassidy Coto, Riley Ford, Malika Washington and Olivia Gabriel ran the 4x400 final in 3:52.67, besting Grant’s lineup of Shayla Noil, Libby Kokes, Ella Donaghu and Piper Donaghu, which finished second in 3:56.48.

“I knew it would come down to the relay, and they were clearly the better relay team that day,” Grant coach Jim Tucker says.

Central Catholic ended up with 54 points, while Grant scored 53.

Though Grant couldn’t attain the title, Tucker was happy with his team’s performance.

“Our athletes ran one of their best performances of the year, and I cannot complain about that. They gave their all, and we just came up short,” Tucker says. “My hat’s off to Central.”

The Rams needed only one individual victory from Gabriel in the 400 to take the Oregon School Activities Association title.

Bergmann says her race was “beautifully run.”

And, after Gabriel won that individual state title, she quickly had to regroup for the 200 final.

“The Saturday double of winning the 400 and then coming back to place fourth in the 200 less than an hour later was huge,” Bergmann says.

In fact, the CC roster scratched and clawed for every point.

The 4x100 relay team finished second, Washington placed seventh in the 100 and third in the 200, Ford took fourth in the 300 hurdles and high jumpers Zharia Hale and Anna Laber finished fourth and sixth, respectively.

“We had points coming from many directions,” Bergmann says.

Though they scored in a potpourri of events, CC won without garnering points in the throws or distance events.

“We have a fairly small team, but the quality is very good in the sprints, jumps and hurdles,” Bergmann says.

Despite finishing at Oregon track’s apex, Bergmann is aiming higher for next year and the Rams’ title defense in Eugene.

“We are working on our distances and throws to build a more diverse team,” he says.

On the other side, Grant weaved its second-place performance largely through the thread of the Donaghu sister tandem. Piper won the 800 and finished second in the 1,500. Ella won the 1,500 and 3,000.

by: COURTESY OF CENTRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL - Members of Central Catholics Class 6A champion track and field team include (from left) Riley Ford, Olivia Gabriel, Cassidy Coto, Malika Washington, Zharia Hale and Anna Laber.“The Donaghu sisters are a dream to coach,” Tucker says. “They are talented, have two of the best work ethics on the team, and want to see the team succeed in every way. They are also top students in school, and they keep everything in perspective.

“They performed just the way we wanted them to for us to be successful.”

Central’s victory was historic, as it was the first track and field title for the Rams in 76 years.

“There have been many great track and field athletes to come through CC,” Bergmann says. It feels “unbelievable.”

The 4x100 delivered the fastest time in school history, Washington broke school records in the 100 and 200, and Gabriel broke a school record in the 400.

The title marked the culmination of three years of hard work in cultivating a winning environment.

“I wanted to start a culture that reflected ‘One Team, One Vision,’ ” Bergmann says. “I brought in passionate track and field coaches who support and learn from each other, and drove event-based coaching.”

That means encouraging athletes to specialize and getting the boys and girls teams to practice together.

Bergmann seems to have a good thing going at CC.

“I started in 2012, and we qualified one girl to the state meet,” he says. “In 2013, we placed 15th overall and scored 16 points. In 2014, we scored 54 points and won the meet.”

Afterward, the Rams celebrated with a well-deserved feast.

“We went to Red Robin in Albany to let the kids have some burgers, fries and milkshakes,” Bergmann says.

Bergmann believes the title couldn’t have come to a better group of girls.

“They work hard, are respectful and encouraging to both their teammates and competitors.”

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - John Nizich , a Central Catholic senior, takes first place in the 6A javelin on the final day of the three-day state track and field championships.Other top performers by 6A and 5A athletes at state include:

• Cameron Retherford, Benson — The Tech senior won the 5A triple jump with a state meet-record 47-4 leap. He also took second in the 110 hurdles and long jump.

• Roba Sultessa, Cleveland — The junior set a 5A meet-record in winning the 800 in 1:52.80.

• Schuller Rettig, Madison — A senior, he won the 300 hurdles and placed third in the 110 hurdles at the 5A championships.

• Tristan Anastas, Wilson — The Trojans senior won the 5A high jump with a 6-8 clearance.

• Joshua Kellebrew, David Douglas — The Scots junior ran 1:53.34 in the finals to claim the 6A 800 title.

• Harrison Schrage, Grant — A sophomore, he won the 6A long jump and placed second in the triple jump.

• John Nizich, Central Catholic — The senior threw the javelin 218-11 to win the 6A crown.

• Tess Michaelson, Lincoln — A senior, she ran 2:13.25 in the 6A 800 final to place second behind Grant’s Piper Donaghu.

• Paige Rice, St. Mary’s Academy — She completed her stellar prep career with a third-place run in the 1,500 and a seventh-place showing in the 800.

• Grant, Lincoln girls relays — Grant and Lincoln finished 2-3 in the 4x400, and in the 4x100 Lincoln was fourth and Grant fifth.

• ulius Shellmire, Grant — A junior, he finished third in the 200 at the 6A meet.

• Emma Wren, Cleveland — She capped her junior year by winning the 5A 3,000 and placing fourth in the 1,500.

• Jasmin McKenzie, Benson — A senior, she finished second in the 5A long jump and fourth in the 100,

• Sydney Brieher, Wilson — The Trojans freshman took fourth in the 800.

• Emma Hausafus, Cleveland — A sophomore, she placed fifth in the 5A high jump.

• Josiah Langstaff, Lincoln — A junior, he took second in the 6A 800.

• Sam Truax, Central Catholic — The Rams junior was third in the 6A 3,000.

• Grant boys 4x100 — The Generals’ short relay squad came in fourth at the 6A meet.

• Nick Baron, Madison — A senior, he took fourth in the 5A 800.

• Madison boys relays — The Senators ran fourth in the 4x400 and fifth in the 4x100.