Columbia River Conference track and field athletes gathered Friday for the annual Last Chance Meet at Hood River Valley High School. Appropriately named, the event is the final competition of the regular season, giving athletes one final opportunity to fine-tune their events before the district championships; to be held this year May 19-20 in Pendleton.
“While it may look like our season is wrapping up, we actually consider this week just the beginning for our varsity kids,” Coach Donnie Herneisen said.
Each school can have up to three entries per event at the district championship so, for many non-varsity athletes outside that threshold, Friday’s meet really was their last chance for the season.
“I’m excited at about the talent we have coming back next year,” Herneisen said. “Our JV kids have worked hard, through snow, sleet, hail and high winds; and put up some great performances. “
For those who do compete in district, the meet is an all-or-nothing event to determine league champions and who will move on to state.
“Every meet the varsity kids have competed in to date really means nothing,” Herneisen explained. “The district championship meet is the only competition that really matters. For that reason, it’s very exciting, and very nerve wracking. One slip up, one dropped baton, one false start and your season is over.”
First and second place finishers in each event qualify for the 2012 OSAA State Track and Field Championships the following weekend in Eugene. Based on highlights from Friday’s meet, if HRVHS athletes perform on par with the rest of the season, the team will have several representatives vying for state honors.
“We aren’t necessarily looking to win the league title on either the boy’s or girl’s side; we’re just trying to win as many events as possible and get as many kids to Eugene as we can,” said Herneisen, “Last year we qualified about 20 kids for state, and we’re in the running to do the same this year.”