Prairie City Panther Levi Burke is the new 1A high jump champion.
Four Grant County 1A track and field athletes from Prairie City and Monument competed at the May 17-18 OSAA State Championships at Western Oregon University in Monmouth.
Burke, a senior, and fellow team members sophomore Tristan McMahan and senior Syd Holman qualified along with Monument Tiger sophomore Mark Thomas.
Prairie City Panthers
Burke set his sights high this year after his third-place finish at state last season.
“Last year was motivation to keep going,” Burke said.
This time, Burke jumped 6-05 — 5 inches higher than the next closest competitor, Luke Martin of Sherman. Five other jumpers reached a height of 5-10.00 for third through seventh place.
Besides the title of champion, Burke also went undefeated in high jump this season at nine events.
“Levi came to state ready to go,” said Prairie City head coach Nate Barber. “Levi decided that he wanted to stake his claim on the high jump, and he stepped up and did what we knew he could do.”
Burke also placed seventh in javelin.
“He performed well the first day in javelin,” Barber said. “Two of the athletes that placed above him had great final throws that were their PRs for the season.”
This is Burke’s second year competing in track and field.
When asked how he did so well with just two years training in high jump, he said he has a love for sports.
“Emma Carniglia of John Day — she helped me a lot — and a lot of it was self motivation, trying to push myself to go farther,” he said.
He said placing in javelin also felt good
“It was all around a good weekend and good season,” he said.
This was Holman’s first year competing in track and field, and Barber was pleased with the “elite speed” he brought to the team.
Holman was ready to show that speed on the WOU track for the 100-meter dash, but unfortunately, a false start was called.
“I thought that the athlete in the next lane actually moved first, but the officials decided to place the false start on Syd and disqualified him,” Barber said, noting the experience was frustrating.
Holman set a personal record in the 100 at the May 3 Grant Union Invitational, placing first and clocking in at 11.65.
The top three times at state ranged from 11.07 to 11.34.
McMahan, in his first year competing at state, placed third in the 110-meter hurdles.
He’s competed since eighth grade in mainly horizontal jumping and sprints.
Just two weeks before state, he combined elements from those events to give hurdles a try.
McMahan got up to speed with help from volunteer coach Garrett Hitz, who placed second in the event at the 2016 state championships — he was also a champion pole vaulter.
“Garrett Hitz was a huge help with me in the hurdles,” McMahan said, adding that being at state was “quite the experience.”
Prairie City was one of 55 class 1A teams competing.
“I’ve never felt that before, being around so many people, and it felt nice placing well,” McMahan said. “The pressure with state helped me compete better and helped me fit the situation better. I felt like I could adapt.”
The sophomore placed fourth at the district meet and went to state on a wild card with a time good enough to qualify for finals.
“Tristan had one of those fairy tale track meets,” Barber said. “When it came to the finals race, he was ‘lights out.’”
McMahan placed eighth in the preliminaries with a time of 17.14, then came back in the finals, clocking in with a personal best of 16.49.
He was just .07 behind Jacob McClatchey, who placed second, and Ryan Talbot of Harper won the event with a time of 15.91.
“Next year, I feel as if I’ll be able to compete in two or three events at state,” McMahan said.
Barber said it was awesome to see his athletes “dig deep” for a successful outcome.
“Levi was consistent with being the dominant high jumper in the state, and Tristan focused and was a pleasant surprise in the 110 hurdles,” he said.
This was Barber’s second and final year as Prairie City’s head track and field coach, as he is taking a teaching position at Culver High School, where he will also coach.
Monu ment Tigers
Competing for his second time at state, Thomas set a personal record in the 1,500-meter event at the state championships.
He shaved 3 seconds off his previous time, placing seventh with a time of 4:18.34. Last year, he had a fifth-place finish with a time of 4:23.37.
He said the competition was stronger this year. Tim Stevens of Cove won the event with a time of 4:01.26.
Thomas also placed 10th in the 800 with a time of 2:10.74.
“I am so proud of Mark,” coach Jeff Schafer said. “He ran so well on Saturday, which was two very hard runs in a very short time.”
Involved in track competitions for six years, Thomas has been a top runner in the 1,500 and 800 since fifth grade.
He said, even though his placement at state wasn’t as good as last season, being at state was a good experience.
“I’m going to stick with track and hopefully get faster and hopefully get a scholarship in the future,” he said.
Schafer said Thomas is a great competitor that pushes himself.
“I truly enjoy coaching Mark and am excited to see where track and field can take him,” Schafer said.