SOFTBALL: Bucks gear up for Districts

Pendleton 4x400 relay members Jessika McDonald, Nicole Dillavou, Emma Anderton and Sandra Torres share a quiet moment before a race on April 9 in The Dalles. Pendleton won the event.

Last year Pendleton took seven track athletes to state, and the Buckaroos are hoping to more than double that amount at this week’s district meet.

With at least six athletes primed to compete at state individually, the majority of Pendleton’s state qualifiers could arise from its four relay teams, said Bucks relay coach Dustin Breshears.

“I’d say it’s anybody’s game at this point,” Breshears said. “Our relay teams are poised, so 16 kids at least (will make state). It’s not very often we get to do that.”

Sandra Torres has been a standout for Pendleton all season and last year placed in three open events for individual berths at state. Unranked statewide, the junior has been a force in the Columbia River Conference in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes and will be favored to win them at district. She is the Bucks’ only returning female state qualifier.

The lone returning state qualifier for the Pendleton boys is senior Tyler Zyph. He is ranked No. 2 in?Oregon Class 5A in the 800-meter race and has staked victories over Hermiston harriers in multiple 2011 meets.

“Unless Zyph runs backwards, he’s going to state,” Breshears said.

First-year track runner Lathan Alger emerged as a pleasant surprise for Pendleton in the 800 and will vie for a top-two placing at district to qualify for state with Zyph.

The boys’ hurdling events will only feature a finals at district because of a lack of turnout in the event. Kevin?Robinson is a state hopeful for Pendleton in the event and also the high jump.

Continuing the list of Pendleton’s star-studded boys’ team, pole vaulter Dominic Darwin has jockeyed with Cameron Meyers of Hermiston for the league’s top ranking all year. If Darwin holds true, he should head to state, said Breshears.

“After our conference dropped to four schools including us, I knew it was going to be easy to make state this year,” Darwin said. “I’m pumped up to beat Cameron for first place, mostly because he’s from Hermiston really.”

Pendleton’s girls will be most formidable in the 4x100 relay. The Bucks won state in the event in 2008, placed in the top five in 2009 and last year claimed another state title.

Part of the 4x100, senior Nicole Dillavou is ranked No. 2 in?league in the 1,500-meter race and could also qualify for state in the 3,000 meters.

“This is my senior year of track so I’m expecting to go to state,” Dillavou said. “It’s going to be a dogfight in the 3,000. It’s definitely nerve-wracking going to bigger meets, but this is what I’ve been training for all year.”

Other state hopefuls for Pendleton are Emma Anderton in the 800-meter and 3,000-meter races and Jacob Peterson in the 1,500- and 300-meter dash.

“Emma is a beast,” said Breshears. “If you put something in front of her, she’ll run it over.”

The district meet will be held today and Saturday in The Dalles and is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m.

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