The stretch run for the 2007 track and field season officially began Tuesday afternoon on the Astoria track, as two teams expected to battle it out for district titles met for a Clatsop Clash dual meet.
The team winner turned out to be the Seaside Gulls, who swept the meet with scores of 79-66 (girls) and 75-70 (boys).
While the Seaside boys - undefeated in league dual meets - are in a good position to win a district title next week, the Astoria girls could ultimately prove to be a "big meet" team as well.
Meanwhile, Tuesday's individual battles were found at every turn.
A few of the best:
? Dennis Olstedt (Seaside) vs. Kyle McMullen (Astoria) - Ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in the Cowapa League hurdles, that's just how the two seniors finished in both races Tuesday.
Olstedt won the high hurdles in 15.37 seconds to McMullen's 15.68; and Olstedt found himself in a close battle in the 300-meter hurdles, before pulling away in the final 80 meters to finish in 40.12 to McMullen's 41.06.
"The competition of the meet was Olstedt against McMullen, in both events," said Astoria coach Lynn Jackson. "Those times in the high hurdles are really moving. Both are PRs for McMullen, so I was real pleased with what he was doing."
Olstedt said, "(McMullen) really pushed himself. He had PRs in both races. It just goes to prove when you have good competition pushing you, you step up. He was with me in the 300s about three-fourths of the way there.
"Kyle is getting a lot better," said Olstedt, who owns the fastest 300 time (39.19) in the state at the 4A level. "By districts and state, he will probably be a top five hurdler in both."
The two athletes both had victories in the jumps, with Olstedt winning the long jump (20 feet, 4 1/2 inches) and McMullen capturing the triple jump (39-11).
? Marla Olstedt and Jamie Osburn (Seaside) vs. Charlene Harber (Astoria) - The Astoria sophomore continues to climb the charts, both in school records and statewide marks.
Harber broke her own school record in the triple jump not once, but twice. She set the school mark (34-11) Saturday in the Meet of Champions, then broke it Tuesday on successive jumps of 35-1 and 35-3 1/2, now the second-best mark in the state at the 4A level.
The old school record held by Katrinka Jackson had stood since 1994. Harber has broken the mark three times in the last week - and has competed in the event just three times.
"Harber ran quite well (winning the 100 meters in a season-best 12.84), and jumped well with a seasonal best in the long jump (17-4), and another school record in the triple jump," Jackson said. "And she's still working on her technique. I hope she realizes how good she can be, but continues to lay back and have a good time."
Harber said it's still a learning game for her in the triple jump.
"I just kind of estimate where I am, then I jump and make sure my foot's on the board at the end," she said.
Osburn took second in the triple jump, with Olstedt third; and Olstedt placed second in the long jump with Osburn third.
Olstedt racked up more points with a victory in the high jump, and ran a leg on Seaside's winning 400-meter relay team.
? Bjorn McCord (Seaside) vs. Nathan Stinnett and Alex Whitaker (Astoria) - The battle here went to McCord, who won the discus (141-3 1/2) and shot put (51-0 1/4). Stinnett got a measure of revenge with a throw of 169-11 to win the javelin, where McCord placed third behind teammate Justin Laird.
Whitaker was third behind Seaside's Kai Watts in the discus, and second in the shot put (48-0 1/2).
"The Seaside boys are very strong in the throws," said Bob Ellsberg, the throwing coach for Astoria. "McCord had a very good day. He threw 51-something, which was a PR for him. And we're waiting for Alex (Whitaker) to throw anything like he does in warm-ups. He's solid, and he should easily qualify for second out of districts. He just has a lot more in him that we haven't seen yet."
? Justin Krieger (Seaside) vs. Steven Wentworth (Astoria) - The battle of the day on the track was between the two speedy seniors.
It opened with Krieger running away from Wentworth on the final leg of the 400 relay, won by Seaside in a season-best 44.22.
In the 400 meters, Wentworth caught Krieger on the final turn and won in 52.32 to Krieger's 53.05; and a strong finish by Wentworth in the 200 meters helped him win in 23.40, just edging Krieger (23.46) at the tape.
And one friendly rival:
Laura Bobek (Astoria) vs. Jamie Coggins (Astoria) - Bobek won the discus and shot put (136-5 and 38-11 1/4, respectively), with Coggins second in both events.
"It almost sounds like a broken record - Bobek-Coggins, Bobek-Coggins," Jackson said. "Bobek is consistently at 136, 137 or 138 in the discus. While she hasn't broken out with that big throw of 140 that she's capable of, she is still throwing 16 feet farther than anybody else in the state. I have personally seen her throw almost 150 in practice."
In addition, "Jamie is throwing very well," coach Ellsberg said. "She threw over 38 feet three times in the shot today, and her discus is getting there."
Other big point-scorers in Tuesday's meet included Seaside's Ashley Mayfield, who ran virtually unchallenged in winning the 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter races.
Seaside's Cela Sibley won both hurdle events, the Gulls won all four relay races and Patricia Doyle ran 12:06.09 to win the 3,000 meters.