By Mathew Brock

Pilot Sports Writer

With their exceptional performance at the Far West League regional track meet paving their way, the Bruins competed last weekend in the OSAA 4A State Championship at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Making it into the finals of the three out of four qualifying events, the Bruins saw their two star seniors, Ryan Steendahl and Bailey Stamm, walk away with medals in their final high school meet.

The Bruins qualifiers were Steendahl in the pole vault and high jump, Stamm in the 400-meter dash and the girls 4x100 relay team consisting of Stephanie Birks, Mickey Fulton, Avana Pettus and Alonna Nalls.

“It was a really good meet this year. Just like last year we took, the majority of kids this year took home medals,” said Bruins Coach Terry Axel.

This will be the last year for a while that the Bruins will be able to compete at Hayward Field as it is set to undergo renovations until April 2020. The Bruins also move down to 3A this year, where they will face a new set of opposing schools.

Full results of the meet can be found at www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/meet/318127/results.

400-meter dash

Stamm kicked things off on Friday when he qualified for the finals in the 400 with a score of 51.46 at seventh in the preliminary race. He went on to take eighth place and medal in the finals with a time of 51.89 on Saturday. Stamm was disappointed that he couldn’t squeeze in one more personal best and possibly beat some school records, but content to end his high school career on a high note.

“I would like to thank most importantly my coach, Joe Sthen. He always held me to a high standard, nothing but the best, always pushed me,” Stamm said. “I also would like to thank all my friends and family for the support throughout my high school track career.”

This marks the fourth year in a row that Stamm has made it to the state tournament, though this is the first he has done so for a individual event. He came in fifth last year.

“He was hard on himself after the race, but he did the work and he medaled so all I could say was ‘You took eight out of the whole state!’ and we’re really proud of him,” Axel said.

Pole vault and high jump

Steendahl competed the finals for both pole vault and high jump over the weekend, but a practice jump injury had him limping on and off for most of the meet. Steendahl was undaunted though as he went on to make a new personal record at 13-00.00 on his final jump to secure a fourth place medal on Friday.

“He was really hobbling and we weren’t sure if he would even be able to compete in the high jump the next day,” Axel said. “We had him strapped with ice and taped up on friday night.”

Still limping in between attempts Steendahl powered through to compete in high jump where he earned a second medal by taking fifth place with a new season best of 6-01.00 to tie his all time record after barely catching the bar at 6-02.00 with his heel.

Girls 4x100 relay

After just overtaking North Bend by a fraction of a second at regionals, the Bruins girls 4x100 relay team just barely made it to state where they ran 52.82 race to take 13th place out of 14 teams. While ultimately falling short of a new personal best, Axel says the girls ran a solid time.

“When you get there and there’s two heats of the best schools in the state you really gotta go hard to get in there,” Axel said. “We did good. It wasn’t an embarrassing matchup or anything. We kept it close and didn’t get walked away from, but fell short of a PR. Our handoffs were beautiful and Mickey Fulton really brought it in on that last leg of the field.

With the only senior on the relay team being Stephanie Birks, the majority of the team will return next year hoping to use their experience at state to improve their time even further and become a contender in their new league.

Looking forward

The Bruins move down to 3A next year where the coaching staff feels they’ll be competing at a more competitive level.

In their final meet before regionals, the Bruins faced two of the top schools in next year’s league, Cascade Christian and St. Mary’s, who they snagged first from at the Illinois valley Twilight meet by only half a point.

“Next year we drop down to 3A and lose our three biggest competition: Marshfield, North Bend and Siuslaw, which doesn’t break my heart,“ Sthen said. “It should really put us back on a even level and with all the young kids coming up I think the future looks bright.”

The Bruins will also have access to a larger pool of returning competitors next year. The majority of the relay team will return and Chloe McCrae will be returning for her senior year after falling just short of state for discus at the regional meet.

Christian Steendahl will also be following in his brother’s footsteps by competing in pole vault.

Over the summer, the Bruins runners will be attending a high altitude running camp and will be selling raffle tickets starting sometime in the next few weeks.

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