Grizzlies aim high at state

Wilder Schaaf is taking the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to the state meet.

"I think I'm just going to run that (1,500-meter run) the same way I did at districts," he said, "and hope it turns out well for me."

It certainly did at the Southern Sky Conference district meet, where the Ashland High junior cruised to victories in both the 1,500 and 3,000 to set up his bid for a long distance double dip at this week's OSAA Class 5A state championships. The two-day meet begins Friday morning at Hayward Field in Eugene.

Schaaf is one of three Grizzlies to qualify for state. Seena Frantz, a senior, will compete in the girls 3,000 and 1,500, and senior Daniel Cowan qualified in both the 110 high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles.

Schaaf represents perhaps Ashland's best chance of bringing home a state title. In the 1,500, which will be run Saturday afternoon, he has both the No. 1 qualifying and the top overall time, a 4 minute, 2.9-second finish May 2 at the Grants Pass Rotary Invitational. The next best time belongs to Springfield senior Tim Costin (4:03.9), who passed up his own chance at a double-win to focus on the 3,000 at districts. That leaves a handful of other challengers fast enough to push Schaaf in the 1,500. One of those is Crater senior Zach Elliott, who finished second to Schaaf at the SSC district meet in both the 1,500 and 3,000.

"Zach will be trying to beat me because I beat him at districts," Schaaf said.

Schaaf will need to pull off an upset to win the 3,000, which will be run Friday at 12:03 p.m., but he figures to be in the race. His qualifying time of 9:07.42 ranks sixth, but his best time overall (8:59.38) ranks third in the state behind Elliott (8:48.61) and Costin (8:56.5).

Schaaf said he would love to take both races.

"I have as good a shot as anybody," he said, "but the 1,500 is my better race, definitely."

Frantz believes she has a shot at scoring an upset in the 3,000. Her qualifying time of 10:37.26 ranks fourth, but she has plenty of experience running head-to-head against Crater's Kayleigh Tyerman, who currently owns the fastest 5A time (10:05.12).

"I'm just really excited to see what I can do," Frantz said. "It's the last race so why not. I feel like I've improved a lot throughout the year so why not make it my best and really compete and race this time.

"Honestly, there's nothing to lose, so I'm going to try to win it."

In the 1,500, Frantz's goal is to set a new personal record, which means breaking 4:49.69. Her qualifying time of 4:55.86 ranks fourth. Tyerman (4:43.98 qualifying time) will be the favorite in that race, too.

Cowan has already reached his goal of qualifying for state by placing second in the SSC in both hurdle events. Now, he has a new set of goals: qualify for the finals in the 300 hurdles and break 16 seconds in the 110.

To qualify for the 300 finals, he'll have to finish in the top eight in the preliminary round Friday afternoon.

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