Oregon track and field coaching legend Bill Bowerman once said, "There is no such thing as bad weather, just soft people."
Odds are the former Duck coach never had to walk across the infield of the track at Astoria High School in early spring. But it's still a nice quote.
There certainly weren't any "soft" athletes at Astoria Monday afternoon, as the best in Lower Columbia track and field gathered to battle the elements in the 22nd annual Daily Astorian Invitational.
The athletes who competed Monday were fighting rain, wind, cold and hail - not exactly perfect conditions if you're looking for good marks. Or dry uniforms.
"There's a lot of issues with the rain," said Astoria coach Cole Linehan, in his first home meet as the Fishermen coach. "I guess that always happens at Astoria, with the Daily A. We did our best with it, and got through it."
Eventually. The fourth and final heat of the mile relay was run in total darkness, and brought the five-hour meet to a close.
While the stars and headliners from the past few years of the "Daily A" meet are now competing in the Pac-10 (Charlene Harber, Laura Bobek, Ashley Mayfield), there are a few Warrenton athletes ready to pick up the slack and carry the torch for the next generation.
Warrenton junior Payton Hummell is ranked No. 1 in the state at the 3A level in the 100-meter high hurdles, and fourth in the 300-meter hurdles.
Hummell was one of the eight Athletes of the Meet Monday. She won the 100 meters in 13.32 seconds, then added a victory in the high hurdles.
Cole Linehan:Hummell's sophomore teammate Emmi Collier is ranked first statewide in the shot put, and won Monday's event with a toss of 35 feet, 10 inches.
Elsewhere, Warrenton's Cody Patterson is ranked third in the state in the 100 and fourth in the long jump. The Warrior senior took fourth in the 100 and third in the long jump, as conditions hampered all runners and jumpers.
"For the (400-meter) relay - oh my goodness - I still feel wet," said Astoria's Eleni Duret, nearly two hours after the race. "As soon as we started, it started pouring."
"As soon as you take off your sweats, it's freezing out there," said Seaside's Cole Willyard, who won the boys' 1,500 meters in 4:27.85.
"We're shooting for the 4:20s this season - for the first meet at least - and we accomplished that. I was going for first, but the time was good enough for me," he said.
"It's a pretty high goal, but I'm shooting for a sub-four (minute) this year," added Willyard, the top returning 1,500 runner in the Cowapa League.
Cole Willyard:"Parker Bennett from Sisters is No. 1 (statewide) with a 4:15 already," he said. "I got injured last season, so it was rough, but I feel stronger and I'm confident we'll do well this season."
Also overcoming the elements was Seaside's Kai Davidson, who cleared the five-foot mark for the first time for a personal best and a win in the high jump.
Seaside teammate Sara Sanders earned an Athlete of the Meet award, as she had a toss of 80-11 to win the discus.
Other local winners on the girls' side included Astoria's Katie Leino (long jump, 13-5 1/2); and Knappa senior Kate Shear, who set a meet record with the new javelin, with a throw of 128-6 (old mark was 125-2 by Mollie Lee of Jewell, 2006).
Jewell grabbed a pair of second-place finishes (Angel Ulm in the long jump, Jesika Kaczenski in the javelin); and Duret appeared in her first meet of the second, and placed second in the 300-meter hurdles behind Jessica Markham of Banks.
"It didn't feel like the best race I've ever done, but it's my first meet this year, so it felt good to get it under my belt," said Duret, who was third behind Yamhill-Carlton's Kori Bellwood and Markham at districts last year.
Eleni Duret:"Jessica Markham and I have always been sort of 'rivals,' but she's a really nice girl," Duret said. "I just hope I can finally get up there with her and beat her eventually."
The battle between Duret and Markham could come right down to the district meet, then possibly another duel for a top spot at the state meet in May.
"I think there's only one person who graduated," Duret said. "Otherwise it's the same girls, all neck-and-neck, trying to get it. I'm just thinking about getting stronger. My form just needs to get better, and I'll be up there with everyone else."
Tryg McCord of Astoria was one of four Athletes of the Meet on the boys' side, as the senior won the discus with a throw of 124-6.
Warrenton senior Stephen Petersen captured the shot put (43-0), just ahead of McCord (41-11 1/2); and wins on the track included Astoria's Jesse Boord in the 300 hurdles (42.31) and Seaside's Cory Rice in the 800 meters (2:07.57).
The Fishermen added a pair of second-place showings in the long jump (Benjo Musa, 18-7 1/2) and the 1,600-meter relay, as Banks (3:39.21) clipped Astoria (3:41.68) at the end.
One other meet record was set, as Colby Seyferth of Banks won the 200 meters in a blazing fast 22.28, breaking the old mark of 22.29 set by Seaside's Jake Brown in 1995.
"We had one really good mark in the low hurdles (Boord), which I'm pumped about," Linehan said. "It's been pretty good. You learn a lot, just getting thrown in the fire, but overall we did pretty well."
All in all, not bad for the first home meet, Linehan said.
"It's the first meet, with a lot of kids and lot of stuff to learn," he said. "We'll just try to learn from what happens and get better.
"You don't expect too much at first. Just kind of throw them out there, see how they do, come back tomorrow and try to clean it up."
The weather caused a few glitches at the start, but Linehan, Astoria principal Larry Lockett and Athletics Director Howard Rub gathered the troops (volunteers, teachers, ex-athletes) and eventually got the meet running smoothly.