Sultessa gets two silver medals, school record at state meet


Neither of Cleveland’s returning 5A State Champions successfully defended their titles at the 6A OSAA State Championships on May 22 and 23, though most of the team felt the meet was still a fruitful competition.

“It went very well,” said Coach Steve Nims. “Going from 5A to 6A is a huge change in the level of competition.”

The marquee event of the weekend was the boys 800 meters.  Cleveland qualified both Peter Kurtz and Roba Sultessa, the two-time defending 5A champion and 5A state record holder in the event.  Kurtz led for most of the first lap, something he knew wasn’t quite commensurate to the level of competition.  “I was a little wary, and I knew those other guys were going to go at some point,” he said.  Half a lap later, with 200 meters to go, Sultessa took control of the race, bursting out to the front, contending with PIL runner-up Josiah Langstaff down the final stretch.  Both Sultessa and Langstaff leaned hard across the finish line, windmilling their arms to stay upright.  With baited breath, the entire crowd turned to the scoreboard.  Langstaff’s name flashed up first, in 1:54.63, then Sultessa’s only two-hundredths of a second behind.  Kurtz finished eighth in the race, earning a spot on the podium.

“The 800 didn’t go as I planned,” said Sultessa, “But I got a big PR in the 1500 and that tired me out.”

Sultessa also took second place in the 1500 meters, again only a fraction of a second behind the winner.  He ran the race in 3:55.85, besting not only his own personal fastest time but also the school record of 3:58 by a large margin.  Daniel Winn set the previous record in 2010; he now runs for the University of Oregon and recently ran a four-minute mile.

Cleveland’s other returning state champion, Emma Wren, took third in the 3000 meters in 10:18, and was fourth in the 800 meters.  Wren ran a 2:16 in the 800, a personal best time that moved her into second in Cleveland’s all-time fastest list for the distance.  In the boys 3000, senior Nabi Amin took ninth.  “I was boxed in the whole first mile,” Amin said. “By the time I got outside the lead pack was already gone.  I had to run on my own.”

In the relays, while neither Cleveland’s girls or boys 4x400s reached the podium, both set new school records.  The girls team of Wren, Eve Lathrop, Caroline Holley, and Tess Franke ran 4:03.27, besting a nine-year-old school record by a full 1.5 seconds.  The boys team of Sultessa, Kurtz, Amin and Peter Gregory took tenth in 3:25.02.

In the high jump, Emma Hausafus took sixth, an impressive finish in the tougher 6A classification.  Her jump of 5’ 2” was tied with seven other girls for the second highest jump of the competition, while four girls cleared 5’ 4”.

Other performances of note included Claire Diller and Gregory, who placed 14th in the javelin and 110 meter high hurdles respectively.  In the girls hurdles races, Birch Clark took 15th in the 100 meter hurdles, and 16th in the 300 meter hurdles in her fourth state appearance.

Overall, Cleveland’s boys team finished 15th, with 17 points, while the girls finished 18th with 13 points.

Coach Nims said many times during the weekend, “Today is a gift, and that’s why it’s called the present.”  For the Cleveland athletes competing, the results of this meet were the ultimate gift.