District championship results show a Horizon track team on the rise

Boys take Big Sky Conference title, girls place second in championship meet

Four years ago, a half-dozen students gathered on a cold, blustery March day on the grassy field behind Horizon Christian School and declared themselves a track team. They had no uniforms, no track to run on and no equipment. A hard rain early on during that initial practice forced the athletes to seek shelter inside the school’s gym, where they completed their workout.

Four years later, there still is no track, but the school does own some equipment and, on most days, there are enough uniforms. There also are district championship and runners-up trophies in the school lobby.

The first-place blue trophy comes courtesy of the Horizon boys team, which won the Big Sky Conference title on a windy Saturday at Sherman High School in Moro. The Hawk girls came within a couple of places of matching the boys, but settled for second – and a red trophy — behind Griswold.

“This is the first time in Horizon history that a boys group of athletes has been district champions in two different sports in the same year,” said Coach Emma Neiworth-Petshow, who helped start the team in 2012. (The Hawk boys basketball team won the district title in February.) “This is also the first time, to my knowledge, that a girls team has received a district competition trophy in any sport in school history.”

Seniors Ryan Aldrich and Hannah Kempf were freshmen on the inaugural Horizon team – made up of four boys and two girls. Aldrich and Kempf had big roles in the Hawks’ success at the district meet, as both placed in three individual events and will be among a large group of athletes representing Horizon at the Class 1A state meet Thursday and Friday at historic Hayward Field in Eugene.

The state meet contingent includes three relay teams, something that could only be dreamed about – at least on the girls’ side – back in 2012. Kempf was the key for Saturday’s success, as her anchor leg in the 4x400-meter race lifted the Hawks into second place — in the race, as well as in the team standings. Griswold’s fourth place (and five points) in the relay enabled the Grizzlies to edge the Hawks 98-96 for the girls team crown.

“Hannah ran an incredible 60-second final leg to clinch the second spot,” Neiworth-Petshow said. “She showed off her hard work this year by scoring 26 individual points for the team, making her the fourth-highest scoring individual athlete at district.”

Ten of those points came when Kempf defended her district championship in the triple jump (with a personal best and state-leading 34-foot mark); she added eight points for second places in the high hurdles and 200.

Other multiple district placers included frosh Paulina Finn (fourth in the triple jump, and fifth in the high jump and low hurdles); sophomore Amy Requa (third 1500, fourth 3000); sophomore Kloee Brown (third 800, sixth pole vault); sophomore Savanna Hawk (fourth pole vault, seventh 800); sophomore Haley Becnel (fifth pole vault, eighth 400); sophomore Ally Funk (sixth in the 1500 and 3000); and frosh Miranda Roberts (seventh 400, eighth 200).

Horizon’s boys team earned three individual district titles. Junior Salvador Ramirez won the 1500 and 800, in addition to anchoring Horizon’s 4x400 relay to third place. Senior Mason Bloomster won his newfound specialty, the discus, finished second in the 100 and was third in the 200. Bloomster also anchored Horizon’s 4x100 relay to third place, which qualified it for a wildcard spot in the state meet. Aldrich was an alternate on that relay and will join his teammates at state after finishing second in the discus (three inches behind Bloomster). He also was sixth in the shot put and seventh in his first-ever try in the pole vault. Sophomore Jony Nelson earned a repeat trip to Eugene, with a runner-up finish in the 3000; he also was third in the 1500 and scored 14 team points.

Other multiple-event placers for Horizon’s boys team at district were sophomore Luke Holste (third, high and intermediate hurdles); senior Jared Davis (third high jump, fifth long jump); sophomore Quinn Roetcisoender (third triple jump, tie for fourth pole vault, sixth low hurdles); sophomore Andrew Rinella (fourth 400, tie for fourth pole vault, seventh 200); freshman Andy Hung (fifth 800, eighth 3000); and freshman Makoa Whitaker (seventh javelin, high and intermediate hurdles, and eighth 400).

“Everyone who competed either scored points for the team or set personal records,” Neiworth-Petshow said. “I am extremely happy and so proud of all our athletes. Everyone stepped up to the challenge.”

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