North Bend Track Meet

Marshfield's Hunter Drops makes his final throw at the 2014 Far West League district meet. Drops now competes for Oregon Tech. 

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The decision by every major conference to cancel the spring sports season in the wake of the COVID-19 virus epidemic has impacted a bunch of track athletes from the South Coast across all levels of college competition.

The NCAA made the decision last week to cancel all spring sports the same day it decided to cancel the NCAA basketball tournaments.

That decision meant a delay to the start of the college career for North Bend graduate Ty Hampton, the national high school javelin champion last year who is a freshman at the University of Oregon.

Boise State student Sailor Hutton missed out on her sophomore season for the Broncos. As a freshman, Hutton had a chance to compete in the Mountain West Conference championships in the 5,000 meters and also had her first collegiate win in the Border Clash, when she took the 3,000 meters in 10 minutes, 11.32 seconds, her outdoor collegiate base.

At the league’s indoor championships this winter, Hutton was 10th in the 5,000 (17:36.07) and 19th in the 3,000 (10:05.20). She ran her lifetime best in that event (17:00.01) earlier in the winter at the Husky Invitational in Seattle.

Cascade Collegiate Conference

The NAIA announced Monday that all spring sports would be canceled, which impacted the Cascade Collegiate Conference schools. The NAIA Council of Presidents Executive Committee also mandated that all sports, in season and out, not practice for at least eight weeks.

“All possible scenarios that would have supported a spring sports season were seriously considered by multiple NAIA governance groups,” NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr said. “However, the growing state of emergency due to COVID-19, as well as the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation yesterday to limit gatherings to fewer than 50 people for eight weeks meant we could not in good conscience move forward with the spring sports season and championships.”

In Oregon, CCC schools include Southern Oregon University, Oregon Tech, Corban, Northwest Christian, Warner Pacific and Multnomah.

Several South Coast graduates were expected to have big springs in track and field.

Siuslaw graduate Joseph Dotson, a senior at Southern Oregon University, already had finished second in the NAIA indoor championships in the heptathlon, rallying from 13th place after the first day of the two-day competition. Dotson also placed second in the NAIA outdoor decathlon in 2017.

Dotson surged up the standings by clearing 14 feet, 5 ¼ inches in the pole vault, running 8.80 seconds for the 60-meter hurdles and having the best time in the 1,000, a personal-best effort of 2:41.48.

Southern Oregon’s squad also includes Pacific graduate Justin Hall, who helped the Pirates to a pair of team state titles in high school. Hall finished fifth in the conference meet in the high hurdles as a freshman last spring.

Meanwhile, Oregon Tech features both former Marshfield standout Hunter Drops and former Powers standout Jackson Stallard.

Drops had a strong indoor season for the Owls, including winning the pole vault in a meet at the University of Portland by clearing 15-3.

Drops qualified for the NAIA indoor meet, but was unable to compete because of an injury.

Drops also is a past NAIA champion in the javelin and placed seventh as a sophomore last spring in the event, while placing sixth in the pole vault.

Stallard finished 15th in the decathlon last spring for Oregon Tech.

The Corban University team features sophomore Hannah Beaulieu, who graduated from Marshfield. She was 13th in the 100 in the conference championships as a freshman. She also was an alternate on the Warriors’ 4x100 relay that qualified for the NAIA championships.

Beaulieu placed second in the 100 for Corban at the season-opening Willamette Opener, which also became the school’s only meet this spring, with a time of 13.18.

Also on Corban’s roster is Chloe McCrae, a freshman thrower from Brookings-Harbor.

Warner Pacific’s roster features Nick McKenzie from Siuslaw, who transferred to Warner Pacific this year from Clackamas Community College.

Great Northwest Athletic Conference

Also on Monday, the CEO Board of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference announced it was canceling the spring season by a unanimous decision, reached in consultation with the conference’s 11 schools.

“Our greatest concern is for the health and welfare of everyone within the GNAC as well as that of the communities that our institutions are part of,” said GNAC commissioner Dave Haglund. “This was not an easy decision, but with the fast-changing nature of this pandemic, it is the right decision to protect the health of everyone involved.

“We feel especially bad for our student-athletes who are seeing their seasons, and in some cases their athletic careers, come to a halt. Their hard work and sacrifice inspires us all.”

The GNAC competes at the NCAA Division II level.

Western Oregon includes a trio of former South Coast standouts on its track team.

Marshfield graduate Sawyer Heckard, a senior, was 11th at the GNAC indoor championships in the 5,000 with a time of 15:25.93. He finished eighth in the indoor 5,000 during the 2019 GNAC meet and was ninth at this spring’s Linfield Icebreaker in 10,000 with a new best of 32:20.83. He also is a two-time member of the GNAC All-Academic team.

Coquille graduate Darian Wilson was gearing up for her junior season after finishing second in the NCAA Division II meet in the javelin last spring. She also was seventh as a freshman and, like Heckard was an All-Academic selection. Last spring she also placed third in the long jump at the GNAC meet. She was 19th at this year’s indoor meet in the long jump (16-6 ½).

Bandon graduate Hunter Hutton, Sailor’s twin brother, was sixth in the mile at the 2019 GNAC Indoor meet and eighth at this season’s meet with a time of 4:23.88. He also was part of Western Oregon’s distance medley relay that placed ninth at this year’s meet.

North Bend graduate Gabby Hobson, a senior at Concordia, placed 11th in the 3,000 at the GNAC indoor meet with a time of 10:45.10 and also helped Concordia finish seventh in the distance medley relay.

Hobson was Concordia’s top cross country runner as a senior last fall and is a three-time GNAC All-Academic pick for cross country and two-time selection for track and field.

Fellow North Bend graduate and senior Brianna Cole also was an All-Academic team selection last spring for Concordia. She had a best finish of 13th in the GNAC triple jump as a junior.

Northwest Conference

The Northwest Conference, which competes at the NCAA Division III level, canceled its spring seasons last Friday.

The decision followed the NCAA’s decision to cancel spring championships.

The Northwest Conference includes Linfield, George Fox, Willamette, Pacific and Lewis & Clark.

Linfield’s roster includes Marshfield graduate Tyler Post, who was sixth in the NWCC championships as a freshman last year in the shot put. He also was seventh in this year’s Linfield Icebreaker with an effort of 39-6 ½.

The roster at George Fox includes Payton Davidson, a freshman from Marshfield who is a pole vaulter for the Bruins. She placed fourth at the George Fox Invitational during the indoor season and fifth in her only outdoor meet of the season, the Linfield Icebreaker, clearing 9-10.

Northwest Athletic Conference

The Northwest Athletic Conference, which includes the community colleges in Oregon, also decided this week to cancel the spring season.

That meant a premature ending to the season for a pair of Coquille graduates at Umpqua Community College, sophomores McKenna Wilson and Heather Marshall.

Wilson was 17th at the Linfield Icebreaker in the 200 (28.27) and 16th in the long jump (15-5) and javelin (95-8). Marshall was 17th in the discus (91-8) and 12th in the shot put (32-7).

Sports Editor John Gunther can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 241, or by email at worldsports1@countrymedia.net. Follow him on Twitter: @jguntherworld.

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