EUGENE — As Summit athletes climbed the podium Saturday and crowded together with yet another team state title in their clutches, the public address announcer’s voice came over the speakers at Hayward Field.
“We told you a storm was coming over the mountains.”
And it was a storm Oregon had never seen before.
With nine girls placing in nine events, and with Summit winning both the 400- and 1,600-meter relays, the Storm powered their way to an eighth straight Class 5A track and field state team title — in record fashion.
With only the 1,600 relay remaining on the final day of competition in the two-day meet, Summit needed at least a second-place finish to achieve their seasonlong goal of setting the meet’s team points record.
Running the anchor leg with less than 200 meters to go and in the lead, Sarah Reeves — who not long before had won the 800 — seemed to be losing steam. But the Summit freshman remembered something Storm coach Dave Turnbull had preached all season.
“That last 120 (meters), we’re stronger than everyone else. You’ve just got to go for it and dig deep,” Reeves said afterward. “I just had those words playing in my mind. I got there, and I knew it was now or never. And I went for it.”
As Reeves finished the final turn and headed down the final 100 meters, she began to pull away, giving Summit the relay victory and capping the Storm’s 125-point showing for the meet — nearly doubling the score posted by second-place Liberty of Hillsboro (67 points) and besting the previous record of 120.5 points set by St. Mary’s of Medford in 2010.
“One of the things we always say in our talks is if there is ever a question of will, we’ll win,” Turnbull said. “These kids believe in themselves, and they’ll do whatever they need to do to get to the podium.”
Reeves and Miranda Brown, a junior who won the triple jump, were the lone individual champs for Summit.
“This is everything I’ve ever dreamed of,” Brown said of Summit’s historic run and her performances, which included a third-place finish in Friday’s long jump. “Unbelievable.”
But with Brown also taking third in both the 100 and 300 hurdles, with Camille Weaver finishing third, fifth and seventh in the triple jump, the 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles, and with a record-breaking 400 relay team, Summit coasted to an eighth straight state title — the longest streak by any Oregon high school at any classification for either gender.
Not only that, the Storm moved into a tie with Henley for the most girls team championships in OSAA history.
“That’s awesome,” Turnbull said simply.
Summit support came from all over, as Kaely Gordon (1,500), Alexa Thomas (200) and Megan Buzzas (100) all placed third for the Storm. Thomas was also sixth in the 100, and Olivia Brooks (1,500), Emma Stevenson (400) and Myah Harter (shot put) all produced points with seventh-place finishes.
It all began with Summit’s 400 relay, which had fallen 0.01 secondss shy of setting the state meet record at the 2013 championships. This time, the Storm would not be denied.
That record was important to the relay squad, said Thomas, who ran the anchor leg. And when the Summit senior crossed the finish line, she turned and hugged Mountain View’s Kristen Place.
The PA announcer’s voice bellowed over the roaring crowd, “New state meet record,” and Thomas, almost in surprise, glanced to the scoreboard: 48.74 seconds — 0.14 seconds better than the previous best.
“I was looking to do that,” Thomas said. “But for it to actually happen, it was like, ‘Oh! We just did that!’”
“I couldn’t get there (to the celebration at the finish) fast enough,” added Buzzas, the second-leg runner for Summit’s 400 relay team. “It was like I was running the last 200.”
A record-breaking anchor leg was the first domino to fall for the Storm, and a history-making anchor leg was the final piece.
“I’m just overjoyed right now,” Reeves said. “It’s crazy coming in as a freshman and just being a part of … it’s really just a family. It’s just the greatest feeling that you’ll ever have.”
“This is a perfect end of the season for us,” Turnbull said. “This group of girls is definitely special. There’s talent mixed in with hard work. These kids, I believe, will outwork anybody.”
As for Summit’s new team points record — will it ever be broken?
“Yeah,” Turnbull said with a knowing grin. “Next year.”