(Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of stories about Gorge all-time track and field bests. Track and field, because of its relatively standard distances, allows for somewhat of a level playing field when comparing athletes from different eras, giving rise to the possibility of a virtual meet. Each school was allowed three entrants in individual events and one relay. Other installments in the series: girls meet day one, was published Dec. 15; boys meet day one, Dec. 22; girls meet day two, Dec. 29.)
A brief visit from local law enforcement added some levity to the second day of the 2020 Gorge Virtual Track & Field Invitational.
Despite that momentary disruption, host Hood River Valley kept its focus and methodically worked its way into the lead. The Eagles won the day’s first event — the 4-by-100 meter relay — and the last — the pole vault — before confused athletes and spectators were ushered off the grounds. Midway through the competition, Hood River County Sheriff Deputies showed up after receiving a noise complaint.
HRV throws coach Troy Tactay handled the situation with aplomb. He discretely used a pocket remote to turn down the volume on the sound system in the bed of the gray 1990 Chevy Silverado, with custom lift, parked near the shot put. With his other hand, Tactay reached into his pant pocket and gave the deputies meal tickets to the concession stand. (Later, it was learned that the noise complaint came from a cell phone from nearby Indian Creek Golf Course. Apparently, a prominent local businessman playing in a member-guest event, skulled his approach shot into the pond behind the second hole just as the sound system was turned on.)
The steady stream of rock music — Bad to The Bone, Eye of the Tiger and The Final Countdown among the selections — was purposely played to help the shot putters loosen up. The Silverado was parked just outside the fence bordering the east side of the shot pit. The custom speakers in the bed were tilted upward and blared for 45 minutes, as the spectacle resembled the build-up to bull riding at a major rodeo.
The competition had somewhat of a fraternal feel, although James Atoe, who was wearing University of Washington garb, and Sebastian Barajas, who was decked out in University of Oregon green, kept an uneasy distance from each other. Wahtonka High’s Schmidt brothers, Ron and Butch, Jared Cornell of The Dalles, and Henry Buckles of Hood River talked Oregon State Beaver football. All four throwers, plus Barajas and Robert Atoe of The Dalles, surpassed 60 feet, with Ron Schmidt winning at 63 feet, 11.25 inches. Older brother Butch reminded Ron that he also had two state shot put titles, when he flashed the peace sign; not to be outdone, Cornell wiggled three fingers in front of both of them.
On the track, HRV powered its way to first place in the short relay, edging The Dalles, 43.04 to 43.08. In third was the 2019 state championship team from Dufur at 43.83. Running the second leg for The Dalles was Robert Tilton, who came back two events later to take the 100 meters in 10.74 seconds. An interesting sidenote about the 100, was the fact that five decades were represented in the final. This was most visible in the stands, where groups of young fans in athletic shorts — of varying lengths — sat across the aisle from groups in hot pants and/or colorful bell bottoms.
There was similar representation in the 1500 field, which was loaded with state champions and runners from seven different schools dating from 1966 to 2017. The Dalles had used its team depth — despite not having any individual champions — to take the first-day lead, and the Riverhawks got their first gold and 10 team points in the metric mile from standout Scott Limbach.
Limbach, who finished sixth in the virtual 3000, swept the distance races at the Class 3A state meet his senior year in 1998. He also won the state cross country title in the fall of 1997. He confidently controlled the virtual 1500, winning by nearly 15 meters (3:55.36) over a tight pack of three runners led by Goldendale’s Randall Jones. Jones, Greg Vandenburg of Stevenson and Bon Bullock of Lyle were separated by less than a second. Jones (the Washington 1600 and 3200 state champ in 1983) and Vandenburg (1600 and 3200 champ in 1982) were familiar foes, having competed head-to-head locally as well as state. But Bullock came out of nowhere down the final stretch; it appeared he misjudged the finish line a bit (understandable considering he was used to running another nine meters when won three successive mile state crowns from 1965-67).
Columbia High was relatively silent most of the meet, but the Bruins made major noise in the 400. Matt Lovrin (2005), Adam Neff (2003) and Keith McMillan (2002) finished 1-4-6, providing 18 points to boost Columbia’s point total to 46, putting the Bruins just three behind second place Hood River and in a tie with Goldendale at the time.
The Timberwolves’ mini-run at the larger schools came on behalf of successive runner-up finishes from Jones, Marty Foster in the 100 and Joel Miller in the 400. It was capped by Mike Erland’s photo finish tie with Lyle’s Mike Vorce in the 110-meter high hurdles. Meet officials took almost 12 minutes — somewhat reminiscent of consulting the photo replay booth seemingly every other possession of NFL games nowadays — to try to declare a winner. They eventually settled on giving out two first-place medals, but not before a woman in the stands handed over a print from her Polaroid OneStep 600 instant camera for them to view. Erland’s nine points combined with Brian Golding’s five for placing fourth gave Lyle 60 for the meet and suddenly the Cougars were in the thick of the team race.
For his part, Erland was done after the highs, but he did agree later to run a 180-yard low hurdles exhibition race to celebrate his 1976 state meet performance. He was the high point athlete in that meet, winning the 100, high hurdles and low hurdles (contested over 180 yards at the time).
Hood River’s Parker Kennedy, who opened the meet with a leg on the Eagles’ virtual champion short relay, closed the competition by edging teammate Bill Jones by one inch in the pole vault, 15-9 to 15-8. Their efforts, and that of David Phillips, who was sixth at 15 feet, produced 21 team points for the Eagles, pushing them to their first team lead, 83-79, over rival The Dalles. Kennedy, now working on his decathlon marks at University of Washington, was jogging over to warm up for the intermediate hurdles when the starter’s gun brought the meet to an abrupt and confusing halt.
(Next issue: Day three of the 2020 girls virtual meet — depending on the outcome of an alleged co-investigation by officials from two states. Thanks again to the many Gorge track and field coaches who helped compile entrants. Apologies in advance to any athlete who was overlooked. Readers are invited (and encouraged) to send in corrections, all-time best additions, and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Gorge Virtual Track and Field Invitational, team scores after 11 events
Rules: Individuals can complete in four events including relays; one relay per school; three entrants per school in each event.
Boys Team Scores (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring): Hood River 83, The Dalles 79, Goldendale 60, Columbia 53, Stevenson 47, Lyle 33.5, Dufur 25.75, Bickelton 17.5, Wahtonka 16, Klickitat 7.75, Trout Lake 2, Glenwood 0, Horizon 0, Corbett 0.
4x100 Meter Relay
Hood River Valley (Parker Kennedy, Tyrone Stintzi, Gabriel Campos-Davis, Parker Irusta) 2016 43.04
The Dalles (Trayvon Mann, Robert Tilton, D.J. Taphouse, Joe Bryant) 2008 43.08
Dufur (Cole Kortge, Anthony Thomas, Tanner Masterson, Asa Farrell) 2019 43.83
Goldendale (Briley Cameron, Raymond Miller, Daniel French, Isaac Messenger) 2013 44.04
Columbia (Josh Bell, Zachary Mart, Jenson Ladiges, Evan Nystrom) 2010 44.31
Lyle (Ty Freemantle, Henry Matai, Robert Phelps, Cody Carlson) 2009 45.14
Trout Lake (Peter Schmid, Tony Leslie, Ben Steward, Dale Dick) 2005 45.26
Stevenson (Zion Cole-England, Kody Campbell, Isaac Hoidal, Lincoln Krog) 2018 45.3
Corbett (Adam Conrad, Carl Haffner, Dolan DeFrance, Hunter Downing) 2017 45.45
Scott Limbach TD 1998 3:55.36
Randall Jones Gold. 1983 3:58.07c
Greg Vanderburg Stev. 1982 3:58.53c
Bon Bullock Lyle 1966 3:58.79c
Leo Castillo HRV 2008 4:00.01
Brad Rich Col. 2012 4:04.03
Alex Dillard Dufur 2012 4:04.32
Al Van Trobe Gold. 1964 4:04.44c
Jesse Wiley HRV 2017 4:04.74
Robert Tilton TD 2009 10.74
Marty Foster Gold. 1985 10.8
Adam Neff, Col. 2003 10.8
Mike Erland Gold. 1976 10.83c
Brandon Montoya Lyle 2018 10.84c
Childers Stev. 1969 10.94c
Dick Tienhaara Dufur 1971 10.98hc
Wyatt Webber HRV 2014 10.99
Dan Daron Stev. 1979 10.99c
Matt Lovrin Col. 2005 48.69
Joel Miller Gold. 1977 49.21c
Ian McNaughton HRV 2011 49.41
Adam Neff Col. 2003 49.42
Jack Tomlinson HRV 1986 49.94c
Keith McMillen Col. 2002 49.95
John Torgerson HRV 1981 50.04c
Cody Carlson Lyle 2010 50.04c
Caleb Sperry TD 1994 50.09
Ron Schmidt Wahtonka 1979 63-11.25
Henry Buckles HRV 2020 63-3
Butch Schmidt Wahtonka 1970 62-5.5
Sebastian Barajas HRV 2016 62-3.5
Jared Cornell TD 1996 62-2.75
Robert Atoe TD 2008 60-8
Kenny Lutz Col. 1998 57-11
James Atoe TD 2010 57-10
Kasey McCullough Dufur 2008 54-6.75
110 Meter Hurdles
Mike Erland Gold. 1977 14.54c
Mike Vorce Lyle 1969 14.54c
Craig McKee Stev. 1983 14.7
Brian Golding Gold. 2016 14.8
Nathan Powers Bick. 2016 14.84c
Jared Leavitt TD 1992 14.9c
David McAndie Stev. 2018 14.94c
Jeff Miller TD 1982 15.0
Justin Conklin TD 2019 15.0
Parker Kennedy HRV 2015 15-9
Bill Jones HRV 1995 15-8
Mitch Wolfe TD 1981 15-7
Jake Anderson Col. 2001 15-3
Austin McCrum Stev. 2010 15-1
David Phillips HRV 1999 15-0
Kody Campbell Stev. 2018 14-6.5
Brandon Campbell Stev. 2015 14-6