North Bend’s track and field teams enter this week’s Midwestern League track championships hoping to ride their strength in the sprints and field events all the way to a pair of league titles.

The district meet is Thursday and Saturday at Crater High School in Central Point.

The action starts at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

In addition to aiming for the league titles, the Bulldogs are trying to advance as many athletes as possible to next week’s state meet in Gresham.

The top two finishers in each event qualify for the state meet, but Bulldogs who are close to the top two will be watching results around the state since in Class 5A there are up to five wild-card spots available in each event as well.

North Bend’s boys and girls both can expect big points in the field events and the sprints in what could be a pair of tight team races.

On paper, North Bend’s boys are slight favorites over Churchill, Ashland and Crater.

North Bend’s girls will be in a tight race with Churchill, with Thurston and Willamette also in the mix.

Leading the way for North Bend’s boys are a pair of Class 4A state champions hoping to extend that success to Class 5A this year.

Sprinter Johnathon Chilcote is the top seed in both the 100 and 200, with Jake Posey also scheduled to place well. They also lead the league’s fastest 4x100 relay team.

Meanwhile, Ty Hampton is the top seed and state leader for all classifications in the javelin and also figures to score well in the discus. Hunter Bierce also should score well in the shot put, along with Kobe Johnson.

John Efraimson is the top seed in the 400 and Teron Catanzaro should score well in the triple jump, long jump and hurdles.

Ashland and Crater both have their strength in the distance races and Churchill’s biggest point collection should come in the jumping events.

North Bend’s girls are led by their own state champion, Chelsea Howard, the state leader in the triple jump and also the Midwestern League favorite in the 100 and long jump.

North Bend also could score well in the high jump with Kaitlyn Bingham and Haley Snelgrove, and Bingham and Haley Edwards in the hurdles. Celeste Sinko is seeded second in the 800.

North Bend also should score well in the javelin with Maya Cole, Hayden Markel and Ashleigh Timm and in the discus with Annika Strasman, Alexis Hampton and Maria Knight.

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Sports Editor John Gunther can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 241, or by email at john.gunther@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jguntherworld.