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Oregon relays could potentially flock to Charleston

(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
The Oregon Hawks have high hopes for their relay teams heading into today's 1A Oregon Sectional. If they want to reach those goals, they'll need experienced relay runners like Garrett Newman (left) and Tom McCormick to lead the way.

Oregon boys track coach Jim Spratt has a vision.

On May 25, when the finals are contested at the state track meet in Charleston, he can see four groups of Hawks sprinting around the blue track at O'Brien Field in each of the four relays. A pair of seniors, Tommy McCormick and Garrett Newman, will be right in the middle of that success.

"Nobody can have an off day or drop a baton or false-start – anything like that," Spratt said. "As far as the potential to reach the finals in all four relays, that potential is there, and Tommy and Garrett are a key to that happening."

McCormick runs in the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays. Oregon's top times of 43.62, 1:32.85 and 3:29.16 in those races are each below the Class 1A state-qualifying standard.

Newman is in the 1,600 and 3,200 relays. The 8:23.5 posted by the 3,200 foursome is also better than the qualifying mark.

"Most of us are seniors, and we have a lot of experience," McCormick said of the Hawks' relay crews. "We really want it bad, especially because it's our last year."

Newman has gone so far as to look at the times by the Oregon relays this spring in comparison with what was posted at last year's state meet. The Hawks compare favorably.

"We've ran all the times that we'd need to, compared to last year's times, to put us on the podium at state," Newman said.

McCormick and Newman will mostly concentrate on relays at the Oregon Sectional on Friday. The lone exception will be the 400, in which Newman will also compete.

In the regular season, McCormick also ran the 400, while Newman ran the 800. It made for some busy and grueling meets, but Spratt saw it as necessary, because of a spring full of mostly lousy weather, cancelations and indoor workouts.

"We've had to run them into shape in competition," Spratt said. "They've had to do four events. If you can make your best guys go ahead and run all those events, the younger guys can't whine about it."

Speaking of the younger guys, Spratt also trusts his seniors to police his underclassmen when necessary. It's a role McCormick has grown into and enjoys.

"There's a few of us that are ready to lead, and ready to tell some younger runner what to do if they're not doing the right thing," McCormick said.

McCormick and Newman are doing the right thing on and off the track. They are both honor roll students and, as members of the National Honor Society, recently sold T-shirts to raise money and make a sizable donation to the charity Autism Speaks.

Both will attend college next year. McCormick is headed to Illinois to study architecture, while Newman will attend the Air Force Academy.

In sixth grade, Newman attended a wedding in Colorado Springs, visited the academy and has wanted to be a fighter pilot ever since. He reports for basic training at 7 a.m. on Thursday, June 27.

"I just thought it was the coolest place I could possibly go to school," Newman said. "I made that my goal to get into that college once I graduated from high school."

For now, however, the pair of Hawks are concentrating their efforts on the task at hand, and that is performing at peak efficiency at the sectional. There will be no trip to state without that.

"I think everything will come together on Friday," McCormick said.

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