West Linn junior Hayden Williams-Downing hit 162 feet, 9 inches on her final javelin throw March 13 at Wilsonville.
West Linn junior Hayden Williams-Downing hit 162 feet, 9 inches on her final javelin throw March 13 at Wilsonville.

It didn't take West Linn javelin thrower Hayden Williams-Downing long to dramatically change the outlook of her junior season.

Competing in the season-opening Wilsonville/West Linn Icebreaker at Wilsonville High School on March 13, Williams-Downing capped a brilliant series with a throw of 162 feet, 9 inches. She entered the meet with a personal best of 140-2.

She not only broke the 17-year-old school record of 154-5 – set by 2007 state champion Ali Super – but she climbed to No. 8 on the state's all-time list. Her mark is second in the nation this season behind Brett Jones (166-5), a junior in South Carolina.

“Her focus is laser sharp,” West Linn javelin coach Randy Faddis said. “Last year I think she struggled to find her comfort being one of the best throwers in the country. This year she came in owning it.

“The confidence has translated into her ability to hit the point. She's just throwing it through the point. Almost every single throw I'm seeing is through the point.”

Williams-Downing broke the school record on her third throw by hitting 155-6. She followed that with throws of 158-5, 155-8 and 162-9.

“Unbelievable. It was a great day,” West Linn head coach Joe Cerny said. “I knew that she was going to have a big throw this year. We didn't think it was going to come that early, but it did. I don't know how far she can go. Whatever her personal goal is, it's obviously higher now.”

Faddis said Williams-Downing has honed her technique since last season.

“She's throwing as far as she did last year on a five-step short run,” Faddis said. “So when she adds in her full run, that's when her big throws will be coming.”

Williams-Downing already has joined elite company in state history. Another jump and she will move into the territory of Gresham's Haley Crouser, who set the state record of 181-2 in 2012.

“I don't think we can put limits on where she can go now,” Faddis said. “I think she kind of sees that now, too.”

The season-opening performance has put Williams-Downing into the spotlight. Cerny said it got the attention of the University of Oregon, which talked with her the following weekend.

“She was on their radar, but now she's really on their radar,” Cerny said of Williams-Downing, who also has heard from USC, Princeton, Army, Air Force and Stanford.

Williams-Downing, a two-time Three Rivers League champion, threw 131-11 as a freshman and 140-2 as a sophomore. In the 6A championships last year, she threw 123-1 to finish third behind Central Catholic senior Kyeese Hollands (149-6) and Roosevelt junior Havana Alonso (125-2).

Her steady performances this season show that she has reached another plateau. She threw 151-9 to win a home meet against Tualatin and St. Mary's Academy on March 19

The 5-foot-8 Williams-Downing is more than just a javelin thrower. She showed her speed in anchoring both winning relays in the Icebreaker meet, coming from behind to take the 4x400. She also was runner-up in the long jump at 16-1.

Cerny said Williams-Downing will do javelin, long jump, sprints, hurdles and some other throws this season.

“She wants to be a heptathlete in college,” he said.

Faddis – who coached both of West Linn's javelin state champions in Super and Casey Kaufmann, the boys school record-holder at 218-5 (2001) – has high praise for Williams-Downing.

“She's the best teammate I've ever coached, and she's also the best elite athlete I've ever coached,” Faddis said.

Barlow meet

The 20-team Sam Barlow Spring Spectacular meet produced six season-best marks March 21.

Sunset's 4x100 boys relay team clocked 42.28 with John Russak, Gray Ogrodowski, Luke Barnett and Calder Morrison. Pendleton senior Nathan Neveau (discus, 157-6) and South Salem senior Griffin Haider (pole vault, 15-3) also moved to No. 1 in the state.

In the girls meet, Lakeridge junior Chloe Huyler (3,000, 9:39.41), Tigard sophomore Marissa Johnson (shot, 43-0) and Tigard junior Alexa Anderson (pole vault, 12-3) recorded season bests for the state.

Huyler also is the state leader in the 800 and Johnson is on top in the discus.

Lakeridge won the boys meet with 84 points, beating Pendleton (66.6) and Tigard (60). Tigard scored 105 points to win the girls meet, outpacing Lakeridge (77) and Sunset (68.5).

New heights

North Medford senior Houston Klug, the 6A runner-up in the high jump last year, has served notice with his early marks.

Klug, who entered the season with a personal best of 6-7, cleared 6-8 in a season-opening meet against Roseburg on March 13. He climbed to state-best 6-9 to win the Crater Classic Twilight meet March 21.

Last season, Klug hit 6-7 to win the Southwest Conference district title but managed only 6-2 in the 6A meet, finishing second to Sheldon junior Terek Logan (6-5).