NYSSA — A promising junior campaign for Erik Carranza of the Riverside Pirates hit some rocky waters and ran aground last season when the runner couldn’t shake a hamstring injury. The lingering tightness followed him throughout the season, compounding fractions of seconds onto his sprint times.
But with both his money makers feeling strong and those nagging problems behind him, Carranza feels poised to make a run at the podium this postseason, starting at the Eastern Oregon League district meet in Nyssa this weekend. Competition is spread over two days with action beginning on Friday at 2 p.m.
“He’s been good his whole career for us and we’ve finally got him healthy,” coach Dave Boor said. “He’s got a legitimate chance to do some damage (at the state meet). But he’s got to get there first. That’s what districts are all about.”
On the ladies’ side of the meet, Justyce Smith will be a runner to watch for the Pirates. The freshman has scores in the top three for Class 3A in the 100 and 200 meters as well as the long jump. She’ll only compete in those three events this weekend to try and alleviate some pressure, Boor said, because he doesn't want to overwhelm her at her first meet of this size and importance.
“Physically, she’s probably the best athlete I’ve coached at Riverside,” he said, “but freshman can be scary that first time they go to the districts.”
And while Riverside has a few athletes that will likely be making the trip to Monmouth and Western Oregon University for the state meet on May 18, Boor said he doesn’t foresee either his boys or girls as EOL champs this weekend. The Pirates just don’t have the numbers, with many events having no entrants from Riverside.
That’s an issue the defending champs from Nyssa don’t have to face. The Bulldogs won the boys’ and girls’ titles last season and Boor said it wouldn’t surprise him to see that outcome again. The Nyssa boys have the makings of a state championship team even.
Also chasing Nyssa, the Umatilla Vikings bring a couple of strong competitors to the meet, especially from the girls’ team. Hurdler Dana Cardenas and field specialist Jessica Siler are the Vikings’ best hopes for state qualifiers.
Cardenas ran the sixth fastest 300-meter hurdles time in 3A this spring in 49.24 seconds. Siler’s best events include the shot put and triple jump, where she ranks eighth in the class in both events. In the EOL, though, her distances of 35 feet, 4.5 inches and 33 feet, 1.5 inches respectively both rank second.
Senior Jordan Brown has the fastest 3,000-meters time in the Eastern Oregon League while running for Umatilla —10:07.40 — and presents the best opportunity for a Vikings’ boy to move onto state.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at (541) 966-0839 or firstname.lastname@example.org.