Heather Donais graduated from Kamiakin high school two weeks ago with a handful of track medals — most of them gold.
She will leave them behind when she goes to Northern Arizona University to play soccer, but she will be able to take the memories with her.
“I love track,” Donais said. “Coming into this season, I knew as soon as state was over, I was done. It’s kind of sad, but I had a lot of fun.”
Donais, who earned two golds, a silver and an eighth-place at the 3A state track and field championships last month, is the Herald’s All-Area girls track athlete of the year for the second consecutive year.
Umatilla senior Fabian Cardenas, who won his third consecutive Oregon Class 3A boys 3,000-meter title, and his second consecutive 1,500-meter title, is the boys recipient.
“He had such a great year,” Umatilla coach Josh Ego said of Cardenas. “In my honest opinion, I won’t have another athlete like him again. It’s very rare for a coach at the size of school I’m at to have a kid like him.”
Kamiakin’s Cheryl Schauble is the girls coach of the year, and Walla Walla’s Eric Hisaw is the boys coach of the year.
“It was a great year,” said Hisaw, whose team won all of its Mid-Columbia Conference meets and the 4A MCC district title. “As good a year as I can remember in my 18 years here. The neat thing is there was no egomaniac — it was a true family team. It was a blast this year.”
Donais ruled the track in the 100- and 300-meter hurdle events this season. In her signature event, the 300 hurdles, she won every race this season except the state final, where she finished second in 43.40 seconds — her best time of the year.
“I ran my best race,” Donais said. “I can’t be disappointed if I ran my best race. The girl who won (Madison Yerigan of Stanwood) PR’d. We pushed each other and it was a good race.”
She won the 300 hurdles at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational (43.42) in early April, the Pasco Invite and the 3A district and regional titles. She also was named the top female athlete of the meet at the Pasco Invite.
Donais’ 100 hurdle adventure had a dent along the way, placing fifth at Arcadia, but she went on to win the Pasco Invite in a personal best 14.47, and won her second consecutive state title in 14.79.
“I knew from the get-go that everyone had expectations of me,” Donais said. “It’s hard to get to the top, but harder to stay on top. Everyone knows my name and they know my times. It’s a battle every time.”
She also ran on the 4x200 relay team that finished first at state, and had quite the run in the 100 meters, winning all but two races. She placed eighth in the event at state.
The Braves also finished second in the team race at state with 48 points, with Donais having a part of 29 points
“I wish they could do a 5-year plan,” Schauble said. “She’s from a track background but she chose soccer. We had calls from coaches and they didn’t know she was playing soccer. She chose soccer early (her junior year). It will be a new, fun experience for her.”
Donais has to be in Flagstaff, Ariz., by July 9 to take part in summer school and start training for the Lumberjacks’ upcoming soccer season, though that part is already under way.
“They sent me a 100-page calendar of what to do each day,” Donais said. “It’s just crazy.”
But it’s her kind of crazy.
“I love soccer. I have been playing since I was 4 years old,” Donais said. “I’ve grown up with it and I’ve grown to love it. I’m ready for college. I went for my visit, got to know the team and the atmosphere. I met my roommate (Carly George), she’s from Denver. She is super good at soccer and is really friendly.”
Donais has quite the soccer résumé herself. She had a team-high 18 goals this season and was a first-team All-MCC and All-State selection as a forward.
Between cross country and track, Cardenas has been the most successful athlete at Umatilla High school in quite some time.
He blew away the field in the state finals of the 3,000 meters in a personal-best 8:30.23 to break his own meet record by 11 seconds at Hayward Field in Eugene.
The second-place runner, Luca Ostertag-Hill of Catlin Gabel, finished 37 seconds behind Cardenas.
“I had a pretty good season,” Cardenas said. “It was a breakthrough season with the way I trained. I matured a lot and that helped.”
Cardenas holds the eighth-best 3,000 time in Oregon this spring, with all seven runners ahead of him from 6A schools.
Cardenas also successfully defended his 1,500-meter title, turning in a personal-best time of 3:58.64 — 11 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Hassan Ibrahim of Jefferson.
“It’s awesome to run at Hayward Field,” Cardenas said.
Ego said he had no doubt his top runner would perform well at state.
“At the 3A level, he runs by himself,” Ego said. “He would have gotten sixth in the 6A (3,000-meter) race. He can run with those guys. He just needs to be pushed.”
Cardenas also ran the anchor leg on the Vikings’ mile relay team at state. When he took the baton, his team was in sixth place. He made up the distance and crossed the finish line in fourth.
“He has good speed for a distance guy,” Ego said. “The sky is the limit for him.”
Cardenas got a big boost in April when he placed third in the elite mile at the Pasco Invite.
Cardenas, who also won the past two Oregon 3A/2A/1A cross country titles, was sitting in sixth with one lap to go. He started picking guys off with 300 meters remaining, and got past North Central’s Justin Janke right before the finish line to clock a 4:14.87.
“My goal was to run faster than 4:18,” Cardenas said. “I got 4:14 - that was a confidence booster. Beating Janke, that was pretty cool. That gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, for sure. Every race after that, I just wanted to go faster.”
Cardenas will be pushed in college. He will run cross country and track for the University of Idaho.
“I am really excited about that,” Cardenas said. “I know some of the incoming freshmen. We will be good. It will be nice to be part of that team. I’m excited for everything.”
Cardenas said he would like to stick with the mile, 5K and would like to try the steeplechase.
“I feel like the first two years will be getting the feel for it,” he said. “I will run cross country, too. That should be fun with the team we will have.”
As excited as Cardenas is about running for the Vandals, coach Travis Floeck is just as excited to have him on the team.
“Honestly, I think he is one of the best young kids in the country,” Floeck said. “He’s in high school running at an extremely high level. What is appealing to me is his character. They can have amazing athletic gifts, but if they don’t have that character, it may never happen for them. I’m excited about the positive energy he will bring to the team.”
Floeck said the Vandals plan to redshirt Cardenas during the cross country season, then turn him loose during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
“His coaches tell me he is dedicated and has the work ethic to back it up,” Floeck said. “He will have the competition to compete against. He is walking through the door with some great athletes. He will have people to push him on a daily basis and that will go a long way. He is so talented. He can do something pretty special here.”
2016 Herald All-Area Track and Field Teams
MVP — Fabian Cardenas, sr., Umatilla. Coach — Eric Hisaw, Walla Walla.
100/200 — Joe Gauthier, jr., Hanford; 400 — Josh Wilson, sr., Chiawana; 800 — Braxton Gutierrez, jr., Kamiakin; 1,600/3,200 — Fabian Cardenas, sr., Umatilla; 110H — Roman Ruiz, sr., Chiawana; 300H — Roman Ruiz, sr., Chiawana; Shot put — Tre Neal, sr., Hermiston; Discus — Wyatt Musser, jr., Kamiakin; Javelin — Andrew Granchukoff, sr., Walla Walla; Pole vault — Roman Ruiz, sr., Chiawana; Long jump — Joe Lang, sr., Royal; Triple jump — Mitchell Jacobson, jr., Walla Walla; High jump — Mitchell Jacobson, jr., Walla Walla.
100/200 — Josh Wilson, sr., Chiawana; 400 — Justin Evans, sr., Walla Walla; 800 — Johan Correa, fr., Kennewick; 1,600/3,200 — Phillip Fishburn, sr., Kamiakin; 110H — Joe Lang, sr., Royal; 300H — Tyler Rohrman, so., Hermiston; Shot put — Wyatt Musser, jr., Kamiakin; Discus — John Hardy, sr., Richland; Javelin — Vladimir Rizin, sr., Kiona-Benton; Pole vault — Walker Seely, sr., Richland; Long jump — Mitchell Jacobson, jr., Walla Walla; Triple jump — Gunner Chronis, so. Grandview; High jump — Steven Kroontje, jr., Connell.
MVP — Heather Donais, sr., Kamiakin. Coach — Cheryl Schauble, Kamiakin.
100/200 — Angela Cardon, sr., Pasco; 400 — Mirannda Shulman, jr., Kamiakin; 800 — Brooke Hansen, jr., Southridge; 1,600/3,200 — Erika Leinweber, jr., Walla Walla; 100H — Heather Donais, sr., Kamiakin; 300H — Heather Donais, sr., Kamiakin; Shot put — Kara Shibley, jr., Hanford; Discus — Skylar Druffel, so., Walla Walla; Javelin — Ashton Riner, jr., Connell; Pole vault — Amanda Andersen, sr., Hanford; Long jump — Allison Stapleton, jr., Kamiakin; Triple jump — Angela Cardon, sr., Pasco; High jump — Morgan Rasmussen, sr., Hanford.
100/200 — Mirannda Shulman, jr., Kamiakin; 400 — Breezy Horne, jr., Richland; 800 — Anna Ruthven, sr., DeSales; 1,600/3,200 — Lindsey Lowe, sr., Kamiakin; 100H — Maggie Delay, jr., Royal; 300H — Lele Williams, so., Hanford; Shot put — Tasha Seymour, sr., Walla Walla; Discus — Tasha Seymour, sr., Walla Walla; Javelin — Emma Wenzel, so., Walla Walla; Pole vault — Maggie Delay, jr., Royal; Long jump — Angela Cardon, sr., Pasco; Triple jump — Allison Stapleton, jr., Kamiakin; High jump —Monica Kaylor, so., Kennewick.