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Long loves chasing after the best in hurdle events

CHARLESTON – Oregon senior Cydney Long wasn't sure which distance of the hurdles races she preferred, but after Saturday, she had an easier decision.

Long placed second in the 100 hurdles in Class 1A of the girls state track and field meet at Eastern Illinois in Charleston, and took home a quality medal. She blazed to a time of 15.15 seconds, just a blink behind winner Jenny Kimbro (14.71) of Sidell Jamaica.

"I just wanted to stay with the first-place girl," Long said after hopping down from the podium. "The hurdles are just what I love to do. Either distance doesn't bother me, I just want to go out and compete, and do my best.

"And this meet gives me the chance to do so against the top girls in the state."

This was Long's second trip to the finals in the 100 hurdles, after placing third last season.

"It felt really great to be back here and to be able to do it for a second time," she said.

Long also competed in the 300 hurdles, setting a new best with a 47.15, and placing seventh.

Shannon Cullen also represented Oregon, who finished 14th as a team with 18 points.

Cullen competed in both throw events, taking sixth in the shot put (38 feet, 8 1/2 inches) and earning a seventh-place medal in the discus (119-4).

She was a little bummed about scratching on a put that traveled more than 42 feet, which would have been a new personal best and placed her in second.

"It's experiences like that, that you can grow from," Cullen said. "I know that I have that 42 in me now, and I'm really looking forward to the next chance I get."

She plans on throwing in college, and is searching for the right place. So far, she is leaning toward the University of Illinois in Champaign.

Amboy's lone finalist was freshman Megan Grady, who took 19th in the 3,200 with a sub-12 minute time of 11:58.67.

Fulton also had one athlete medal in junior Chelsea Lesniewski. At the beginning of the season, she wanted to simply qualify for the Class 1A girls state track and field meet.

But what followed was a surge in performance during Thursday's preliminaries, and a trip to Saturday's finals. The junior finished ninth in the shot put (38 feet, 3 inches) to earn a medal, which made for one of the happiest-looking athletes during the meet.

"I was so nervous all weekend," Lesniewski said. "But it turned out all right because I got a medal."

After her name was read aloud and the medal was draped around her neck, she walked with an extra hop in her step, the medal bouncing off her body with each one.

"Hopefully," she said, "I'll be coming back next year. There is nothing like this."

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