Columbia High's Adam Neff blazed a still-smoking trail into the school record book's with a sizzling effort in the 400-meter run at last Saturday's Columbia Gorge Invitational.
The senior sprinter posted a CHS- and meet-record time of 49.46 seconds in the 400 in leading the Bruins to victory and earning his first male athlete of the meet award.
Neff's career day included victories in the 100 and 200 dashes. He finished up by running the anchor leg for CHS's victorious 4x400 relay team.
"Adam was in a zone," Bruins Coach Doug Miller said. "On that day, nobody was going to beat him, he was that good."
Neff had a personal-record time of 11.01 in the 100 to kick off his day. Later in the afternoon, he ran away from the field in the 400 to crack the 50-second mark for the first time.
"He ran into a headwind in all three of his open races, otherwise, who knows," Miller noted, regarding what Neff's times might have been under optimal racing conditions.
Columbia High nosed out Camas, 90-85, for first place in the eight-team competition.
Junior Brett Schutt, sophomores Matt Lovrin and Wes Blankenship, and the 4x100 relay team of Lovrin, Blankenship, freshman Andrew Culp and sophomore Will Brasuell also contributed first-place points to the winning cause.
Schutt won his first pole vault competition of the season, clearing 11 feet, 6 inches. He would later run fourth in the 300 intermediate hurdles (44.98).
Lovrin held off Washougal's Brett Hargreave with a big kick down the home stretch to take the tape in the 800, with a PR of 2:02.31.
In the discus, Blankenship won by more than 7 feet, finishing with a personal-best mark of 142-11.75. He also contributed a second in the shot put and a fifth in the javelin.
The 4x100 relay team crossed the finish line in a time of 45.19 -- more than a half-second ahead of the second-place La Center entry.
CHS's 4x400 foursome of Schutt, Brasuell, Lovrin and Neff finished in 3:36.89 -- a second of its PR -- but almost six second in front of its closest competition (La Center).
"Considering our guys didn't have fresh legs for that race, that was a decent time," Miller noted.
On the girls side of the track, Columbia High finished fourth, with 77 points, behind teams from Rainier, Stevenson and La Center.
Winners for the Bruins included juniors Katie Mansfield and Alexa Williams in the triple jump and high jump, respectively, and the 4x100 relay team of sophomore Abby Zuck, junior Meghan McCutcheon, freshman Alycia Rohwer and Williams.
Mansfield set a PR in winning the triple jump. She vaulted 32 feet, 7 inches to win the event by more than a foot and a half. She was second in the long jump (14-5.5).
Williams owned the high jump, clearing 5-0 after her competition had fallen out at 4-8.
She would come back to anchor CHS's 4x100 relay team to victory by 1.5 seconds, in a time of 52.25.
In the 400, classmate Jeni Stembridge emerged as a big-time performer with a PR of 1:01.96, which was good for second place.
"I helped her up off the ground after the race and she wasn't even breathing hard," Miller said of the 400 sprinter. "That girl has a lot of athletic ability and room for improvement if she's willing to work at it."
CHS senior standout Kristin Janney was limited to spot duty in the javelin and the 4x200 relay.
She placed fifth in her first javelin competition. But it was her anchor-leg effort in the relay that caught the eye of her coach.
In its first race as a team, the quartet of Rohwer, Williams, Zuck and Janney put together a run of 1:55.60 to take second, in spite of a dropped baton on one of its three exchanges.
"That dropped baton probably cost them six seconds, so it was pretty remarkable that they could do that," Miller said. "If they can continue to drop time, they will be a force at the state level [at the end of May]."