Spink leads Newport at Central Coast meet

FLORENCE — Junior Kolby Spink led a field of 18 runners for first place at the Central Coast Invitational Friday with a time of 4:17.65, just one of seven championship performances at the 11-way meet of top western Oregon teams.

The Newport men dominated track and field events, earning a team first place score of 180, well ahead of second place Philomath, 146, and third place Dallas with 135.5 (complete scores in Scoreboard, P. C2).  The women took second with 139 points, behind leader Philomath, 177.

Spink took the measure of the pack to stay an eye blink ahead of second-place Gavin Glass of Dallas (4:18.13). It was Spink’s first championship run of the season and best time of the year, by almost nine seconds. Newport’s Will Kunde logged 4:26.98 for fourth.

Senior distance runner Leo Johns continued his championship march in the 3,000 meters, posting a first-place time of 8:51.80. No stranger to the blue ribbon, Johns made winning runs at the Jester Intrasquad and Junction City Invitational earlier this year but shaved more than 30 seconds off his previous best time of 9:23.1 at the JC meet.

“That was a huge personal record,” said head coach Kurt Hargett. “He’s the first kid to dip under nine minutes since I got here in 2000.”

Newport senior thrower Max Moore hurled the 1.6kg discus 156-00.5, 12 feet shy of his best showing at the Cotton Invitational but good enough for first place at Florence. Jake Tucker boosted the team’s fortunes by taking second with 136-00.

Junior Jayon Smith completed the men’s championship scores in the triple jump on a personal best of 41-00.75. Teammate Quintin Travis, the up-and-coming freshman, was second with 39.00.50, his best effort so far.

The Newport women claimed laurels in the 4kg shot put, where Halle Hargett took first at 35-05, her best lob of the year since she won the Jester Intrasquad. Hargett also threw the 1kg discus 112-09.75 for first in the event, her fifth blue ribbon this year though it fell short of her season-best 120-7 at the Prefontaine Invitational April 13.

Sister Madison Hargett handily won the 600g javelin with a throw of 115-09. Hargett, a senior, has three first-place efforts under her belt this season and has not settled for less than second in eight outings. She threw 123-9 at the Cotton Invitational in March.

The women’s team scores were boosted by top tier efforts from Aliyah Lopez, third in the 100 meters (13.84) off leader Philomath (12.36) and senior hurdler Isabella McLane, who ran second in the 100-meter hurdles (49.35) behind leader Siuslaw (15.93) and third in the 300-meter steeplechase (49.35), behind first-place Siuslaw (46.52).

Aliyah Lopez, Grace Hargett, Hanna Driebergen and McLane also placed second in the 4x100 relay (53.32)

“The girls are starting to come on,” remarked Hargett, who credits the track team’s performance to motivated athletes. “The coaches study and go to clinics, but the kids are the ‘X factor.’ It’s their energy and excitement that’s doing the job.”

Newport is gearing up for next weekend’s 55th Annual Centennial Invitational in McMinnville, considered the “biggest” meet of the year with 42 of the best teams in the state. Schools large and small have been selected not for size but for competitive talent.

“As good as we are, we know we’re in for a challenge,” said Hargett.

The event begins Saturday at 11 a.m. at Centennial High School.

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