EUGENE — Seaside junior Brett Willyard sat buried in fifth place on the opening lap of Saturday’s 1,500-meter final at the OSAA 4A state track meet at Hayward Field.

While some may have written him off, at least one person in the bleachers knew what was about to unfold.

“He played it really smart, and I knew he wasn’t overextending himself,” Gulls coach Neil Branson said. “With 600 (meters) to go he was in good position and his form was so controlled, I knew he had the horses in him.”

Not just horses – thoroughbreds.

The bell sounded announcing the last lap, and Willyard zipped through the pack and was in first place coming off the turn. He extended the gap to several strides going down the backstretch and won the race going away.

Willyard clocked in at 3:56.20 – nearly three seconds ahead of his closest pursuer.

Willyard won the 3,000 on Friday – a result that was never in question.

He stayed with the lead group through the first mile before stepping up the pace and eventually leaving the pack over the last half-mile. He finished in 8:38.14, beating the rest of the field by almost 10 seconds.

“That last lap my legs felt like jello, but adrenaline just kept me going,” Willyard said.

“He was so far out front he could have slowed it down and saved himself a bit for Saturday’s race, but that’s just not him. He’s going to go all out,” Branson said.

Instead, Willyard took his first-place medal and returned to the team hotel where he took an ice bath to prepare his legs for the next day’s 1,500 final.

“That kind of double is really hard, but he just has that mental toughness – he has the capacity for it,” Branson said.

His win in the 1,500 put Seaside briefly in second place in the team standings early during Saturday’s morning session, but the Gulls wouldn’t add anything to their score during the afternoon and finished seventh overall with 30 points.

LaPine won the meet with 48 points.

Seaside’s Lucas Clark took third in the discus (154-5), while Conner Smith finished sixth in the pole vault, winning a tiebreaker among four vaulters that cleared 12-6.

Mitch Stocker placed eighth in the shot put, moving past two competitors in the fifth round of throws with a heave of 45-feet-6 1/2-inches.

Nick Birge tallied Astoria’s only point in the meet by placing eighth in the 300-meter hurdles (42.19). He placed third in his preliminary heat to earn a spot in front of the big crowd Saturday.

“It felt amazing – an experience every track athlete should strive for,” Birge said. “I wasn’t expecting it. I was amazed.”

Seaside freshman Charlotte Blakesley scored the Gulls three points with a sixth-place effort in Saturday’s 1,500 final (4:57.46).

She barely missed scoring in Friday’s 3,000 race, coming in ninth just two seconds from a spot on the podium. She found herself pacing the support pack about 20 meters behind the leaders, putting her in sixth place during the middle stages of the race before dropping back over the last two laps.

Katie Leino had Astoria’s top finish, placing 11th in the long jump and missing a spot in the finals by a handprint (5 inches).

Gladstone won the 4A girls title with 65.5 points.



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