NKN Girls Track Team Claim 2A District Championship; Nestucca Girls Run Strong

Neah-Kah-Nie and Nestucca athletes are currently in Eugene at the University of Oregon beginning their State competition.  April Bailey will be bringing Pioneer readers updates about our local athletes performances.

By April Bailey and Laura Swanson

Both Tillamook County 2A teams, Nestucca and Neah-Kah-Nie, competed in the OSAA Northwest League Districts competition on Friday and Saturday, May 12th and May 13th, at Portland Christian. The competitions went on through triumph and loss, rain and shine, but not the lightning storm. The lightning storm on Saturday forced the evacuation of the track and field to the nearby gym on the Portland Christian campus. This storm delayed the meet for an hour and half, while spectators and participants patiently awaited the continuation of the meet.

After the delay, it came down to the final race, and congratulations were in order for the Neah-Kah-Nie Girls Track team as District Champions, led by Track Athlete of the year, Katie Clifford who won individual championships in all of her events: 100, 200, Long Jump and 4×100 Relay.
It has been 21 years since the Pirates have won a Track and Field District Championship! Katie Clifford’s double sprint win, a long jump victory and her leg on the winning Neah-Kah-Nie 4×100 meter relay team helped the Lady Pirates claim the Northwest League team track title Saturday at Portland Christian High School. The Pirates edged Faith Bible for the crown by just two points (140-138), while Nestucca’s girls placed third overall with 110 points.
Final race at 2A Districts girls 4×400 – Nestucca at top of podium in 1st, with Neah-Kah-Nie in 2nd.

Clifford ran a personal best of 13.17 in the prelims, then went on to claim the NWL’s fastest title with a 13.44a second effort in the finals. Teammate Jackie Elligsen placed fourth in the finals (14.43 seconds).

In the 200 meters, Clifford again cranked out a personal record of  27.40 seconds, slightly more than a second faster than the second–place finisher from Vernonia. Elligsen was fourth again (30.59 seconds).

The speedster added her third individual title with a leap of 15 feet, 2.5 inches in the long jump. That was a season best for Clifford.

Ashley Henderson, Aspen Becker, Nicole Henderson joined Clifford on the winning 400 meter relay team, while it was the Henderson girls, Becker and Mara Soans in the 1,600 relay that placed second, three seconds behind Nestucca’s winning quartet.

The Pirates also got strong performances from Soans (fourth in the high jump and fifth in the 400 meters), Rheanne Bryant (fourth in the 800 meters), Iris Siegel (fifth in the 3,000 meters), Nicole Henderson (fourth in the 100 meter hurdles), Ashley Henderson (second in the javelin and fourth in the 300 meter hurdles), Cheyenne Spliethof (third in the shot put) and Becker (third in the triple jump).

Clifford will be entering the state meet in Eugene with the fifth-fastest 100 meter time and sixth-fastest 200 meter time. Her best long jump distance only has the senior in a tie for 18th on the 2A performance listing. If she can match her personal record of 16 -3 from last season, that would put Clifford in the top four.

Other Neah-Kah-Nie individual District Track and Field Champions that are competing at the State Tournament this weekend are: Greg Elligsen- 400 M and the boys 4×400 relay: Greg Elligsen, Gene Henderson, Omar Arenas, and Dylan Mitchell

All of these student athletes are at the State Championship Track Meet May 18,19 and 20 at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field with Coaches Albrechtsen, Billstine, and volunteer coach Tami Lesh.

Jackson leaps Lady Cats into third

As defending two year district champs, both boys and girls, Nestucca High School had several strong performances. Pole vaulters, Luis Romero and Jordan Whittles, took first and second places with vaults of 11’0 and 10’0 ft., respectively. Other notable performances by the boys:  Cody Kirkendall’s season best 110 and 300 hurdle races, with third and fourth place finishes; Joe Wilkinson placed third in the 1500m and fourth in the 3000 m races; Kyle Zeller placed fifth in shot put; Ben Hurliman and Luis Romero placed fourth and fifth in triple jump; Ben Hurliman placed fifth in javelin.

Nestucca Girls placed in many events, but Jaykala Jackson earned the most first place performances, winning both the 100m and 300m hurdles.  In fact, Jackson’s 16.31 time in the 100m hurdles ranked her first in state in the 2A division. Jackson also placed third in the girls’ pole vault competition, and teammate, Rachel Whittles placed directly behind her. Whittles also placed first in the 3000m with a season best performance, followed by senior teammate, Payton Hopkins who had a personal best in the race. Whittles and Hopkins placed second and third in the 1500 m. Tea Chatelain took third in the closely contested 400m race, but surpassed her challengers in the 800m race by 11 seconds with teammate Jessica Bailey placing fifth behind her.

Despite all the great performances by both boys and girls teams, neither were able to defend their district titles. In fact the Neah-kah-nie girls point placed (sixth place or better) in every girls event with the exception of pole vault, making them impossible to beat.

One of the most unexpected wins by Nestucca was the girls 4×400 team, all members of the Nestucca Girls Cross Country team, also three year district champions. Jackson proved herself again by giving the team a great lead, followed by teammates Jessica Bailey and Rachel Whittles. But, the Neah-kah-nie girls were not far behind until Tea Chatelain left all the girls teams in the dust, or rather sprinkles, as the team’s anchor. So with bitter sweetness, Nestucca girls handed off the district championship to fellow Tillamook county girls’ team, Neah-kah-nie, but had some vindication with a win in the girls 4×400 relay.

On Friday May 19th the two girls relay teams compete against each other again at the OSAA State Track Meet at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. The Nestucca girls relay team will be joined by their state qualifying teammates Luis Romero, Jordan Whittles, and Payton Hopkins. And as assistant coach Emily Pieren stated, “We are taking a large percentage of our 20 person team to state.”