By Mathew Brock

Pilot Sports writer

The Bruins headed to Florence last weekend to compete in the Far West League Championship track meet where they took several top placements and will advance to the state level this week.

The Bruins boys had two individual athletes qualify for state, Ryan Steendahl and Bailey Stahm, while the girl’s 4x100 relay team also managed to narrowly secure a spot as well.

Coach Terry Axel was pleased that the Bruins weeks of preparation paid off and was pleasantly surprised that Ryan Steendahl qualified for two events, while the girl’s 4x100 relay team pulled an upset to take the state spot from North Bend.

“We got kids into the spots we thought they would do best,” Axel said.

Pole vault and high jump

Early Friday morning, Ryan Steendahl earned the Bruins their first spot at the state tournament with a new personal record in pole vault at 12-10.00. It’s the first time in 10 years that the Bruins boys have qualified for state in the event.

“Going into districts I just wanted to win myself another week of high school track,” Steendahl said.

Steendahl got his wish, but wasn’t satisfied with the state spot in pole vault alone. The next day he made 6-00.00 leap in high jump to earn himself a spot in a second event at the state championships.

Steendahl had been neck and neck with his fellow Far West League athletes all year, with their rivalry culminating at the championship meet.

“It is a really cool meet because I have been jumping and vaulting against all of these kids for years,” Steendahl said. “I knew my competition well and we had all beaten each other previously, so even though I was ranked third in both events, it was anyone’s game.”

Steendahl was thrilled to make it to state, though he admits he was disappointed that he and his longtime rivals will finally part ways.

400-meter dash

Second place in the 400 meters came down to a single second on Saturday, as Bailey Stamm only just managed to beat out Devin Benson and just behind Zach Keller of Marshfield. With that Stamm has earned his spot at the state level for the fourth year in a row, though this is his first time doing so in an individual event.

“It really is an honor to say I went to state all four years of my highschool career,” Stamm said.

Stamm came in at fifth 400 meters at last year’s state tournament with aspirations to go even higher his last year.

“I am excited to see how I can push myself racing against these top-level athletes,” Stamm said. “I am expecting big PR’s.”

According to Axel, Stamm has been working all season to beat coach Joe Sthen’s high school record in the coming meet. Axel even had a custom-made shirt for Sthen to commemorate the rivalry.

Girls 4x100 relay team

North Bend was the favored team to take the second place spot in the girls 4x100, but the Bruins proved they weren’t to be underestimated. In a true upset, the Bruins beat out North Bend for their spot at the state championships by a mere 0.11 seconds.

The Bruins relay team consisted of Stephanie Birks, Mickey Fulton, Avana Pettus and Alonna Nalls. They managed to run a new PR at 52.70 on Saturday and earn their place at state.

“I remember handing the baton off to Avana and then so many emotions flooded over me,” Fulton said. “I don’t think my heart has ever went as fast as it was beating then.”

The girls were quite surprised when the loudspeaker congratulated them for earning a place at state

“I am really excited for the chance to go to state…I am very proud of the girls, we put a lot of work into being the best we can be” said first leg runner Stephanie Birks.

The girls were quick to thank their coaches and team for supporting them throughout the season and giving them the opportunity to compete at a higher level.

The team plans to go for another personal best at state and Axel says they’ll be working to master their handoff in the coming week before state.

Discus

Chloe McCrae fell just short of state despite her first-place rank in the Far West league for most of the season. After throwing a solid 103-00, McCrae was sitting in second place before Annika Strasman of North Bend followed up with a season record of 104-00 knock McCrae down to third.

McCrae is a junior and will have the opportunity to return next year to hopefully earn a spot at state then.

“She has been one of the hardest working throwers I have ever had,” said Axel. “She’s always working to better her technique and doing her best. The other coaches in the league watch her throw and tell me that she scares them. When she figures it out, she is going to throw really far.”

Other highlights

In addition to their state qualifiers, the Bruins ended the season with several personal bests from athletes. You can view they full results of last weekend’s meet at www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/meet/318325/results

The Bruins will spend the rest of this week getting ready for the state where Axel expects the team to at least medal in one or two events.

“It’s really just about getting the soreness out and getting ready,” Axel said. “We’ll be ready. We’ll be up at the Ducks stadium, where it will be hard to not get a good time.”

The Bruins head to the State championship this Friday and Saturday to compete in the OSAA 4A Championship at Hayward field at University of Oregon in Eugene.

Information and quotes for this article were provided in part by Abby Schreiber.

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