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All-Region girls track and field: Shaela Bradley, La Center

Soccer standout was dominant again in track and field

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 30, 2024, 6:05am

Soccer ranks No. 1 in Shaela Bradley’s heart, but track and field is right behind.

“I don’t think I would do it if I didn’t love it, too,” the La Center High senior said. “… It’s pretty close to my family.”

That’s why when an ankle injury occurred at a January club soccer tournament in Florida, Bradley never considered sitting out this spring’s track and field season to prepare for her next step after high school graduation — playing women’s soccer at Rutgers University.

“Not in the slightest,” she said. I don’t think it ever crossed my mind. I was just getting back into things and this really helped me get prepared for soccer, in a way.”

After missing the first six weeks of the season, Bradley, The Columbian’s All-Region girls track and field athlete of the year, made the most of an abbreviated season once she made her mid-April competition debut.

Bradley was one of only two girls in the region to run the 400 meters under 58 seconds.

The other? Fellow Trico League sprinter Casie Kleine of Castle Rock, who edged Bradley at state to repeat as state champion. Bradley was the 1A state champion in 2022.

In fact, Bradley said the two bring out the best in each other over the past three seasons. Both ran sub-58-second times at the state-qualifying 1A district meet May 16, where Kleine edged Bradley by three-one-hundredths of a second, 57.96 to 57.99.

“I love racing against her,” Bradley said of the junior. “She always pushes me.”

At the Class 1A state meet in Yakima last weekend, Bradley reached the podium in all four of her events: 100 meters (12.77, eighth), 400 (59.49, second), long jump (17 feet, 7.25 inches, second), and ran the anchor leg on the Wildcats’ 4×200 relay (1:46.92, fifth).

Of the frequent trips to the podium at Yakima’s Zaepfel Stadium, Bradley said returning to the podium for long jump — her favorite event — was the most memorable. As a sophomore, she also placed second in the long jump.

“I just love the long jump so much,” Bradley said.

But being part of the historic 4×200 relay was memorable in its own right. The quartet of Olivia Bankhead, Paige Sherry, Mikaela Bright and Bradley capped their season running a school-record time in the finals at Yakima.

Bradley spoke of the commitment and determination from all relay members that led the team to drop more than 4 seconds off their debut race together April 19. The Wildcats ran their first sub-1:50 time April 26, and from there, lowered their time each of the final four meets. La Center had the fourth-best time of any 4×200 relay team locally this spring.

“We were really just really committed to it, and we wanted to do well collectively,” Bradley said. (At state), we just knew this was our race. We wanted to break the school record, and we did it multiple times.

“We just all had a drive and I think that really helped us throughout the season.”

ALL-REGION TEAM

Girls track and field athlete of the year: Shaela Bradley, La Center

Rest of the All-Region team:

Paris Ackerman, Hudson’s Bay: League and district title winner in the 200, 400 and long jump reached the 2A state podium in all three events.

McKenna Calkins, Ridgefield: Sophomore placed fifth at 2A state meet in 100 meters, and anchored Spudders’ 4×100, 4×200 state-placing relays.

Kathryn Chapin, R.A. Long: Won 2A shot put state champion in her second year throwing. One of two throwers in the region to hit at least 40 feet in the event.

Karina Cooper, Camas: Saved her best for last by clearing two personal-best heights in pole vault on her way to placing second at 4A state meet (12-6).

Daphne Evenson, Skyview: 4A GSHL’s co-MVP placed seventh in 1,600 at the 4A state meet. Posted 4A top-10 times in the 800 and 1,600.

Elsie Herold, Mark Morris: Freshman won league, district titles in both hurdle races, and had two podium trips at 2A state meet at 300 hurdles, 4×400 relay.

Casie Kleine, Castle Rock, 400/sprints: Repeated as 1A 400 state champion, placed second at 200, and led Rockets’ 4×100, 4×400 relays to podium placings.

Eliisa Marshall, Camas: Junior was 4A GSHL’s co-MVP, and ran two second-place times at 4A state meet: 800 meters and 4×400 relay.

Jessica Polkinghorn, Columbia (White-Salmon): Senior had 2-foot personal-best to win 1A state shot put title. Also placed fifth in the discus at the state meet.

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Tiffany Sheldon, Seton Catholic: Area’s top javelin thrower had a personal-best throw of 123-10 to earn third place at 1A state meet.

Gabriella Thompson, Camas: Sophomore shined at several events, and reached the 4A state podium in high jump (5-2) and javelin (122-3).

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