Prep girls track and field: McGregor ready for ‘breathtaking’ state meet


There were signs of improvement. There was the belief of an extended season. All of a sudden, goals became clearer.

Then it all came crashing down.

Centralia High School’s Alayna McGregor was aiming for a trip to the Class 2A state track and field meet last spring, but an injury to her throwing hand caused her season to be cut short.

“I was pretty devastated,” McGregor stated. “When the doctors said I couldn't throw anymore, I shedded some tears.”

Nearly one year later from when the injury happened, the javelin thrower has made a triumphant return and her final meet is where she expected to be all along.

McGregor put together a healthy last season for the Tigers and she will make her state debut on Saturday morning at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

“I’ve been waiting for this,” McGregor said. “To be here now, it is breathtaking.”

She is the first Centralia girls state qualifier in an event since 2022. McGregor earned the final automatic spot at state with a four place finish and a new personal best throw of 103 feet, 10 inches.

It came on her final throw of the day at the 2A District 4 meet in Tumwater.

“It all just came together,” Centralia throws coach Perry Winkle said. “Her speed was there, her release was there, her attitude was great.”

There was a sense of relief for McGregor. Tumwater District Stadium was the last location she threw as a junior. At the time, her toss of 100-01 at the Shaner Invite was a PR and the first time she tossed into the triple digits.

Then the injury happened and it wasn’t from athletics, rather at home. McGregor suffered an injury to her pointer finger injury on her throwing hand, but didn’t think much of it.

“I thought it was going to be fine, that it was a little tweak,” she said.

When McGregor came to practice later in the afternoon, she knew something was wrong.

So too did Winkle.

“Immediately. I knew we had to shut it down,” Winkle said. “I was bummed for her, but I knew she’d come back.”

Doctors determined she’d be done for the season. She donned a brace for two weeks, proceeded to have surgery to remove a piece of broken cartilage in her knuckle. Post-surgery, she wore a cast for two months and another brace for four weeks. 

In the blink of an eye, the final three meets on the calendar – sub-districts, districts and state – were wiped away.

“The hardest part was wearing a brace,” McGregor said. “I wasn’t allowed to use my hand. I just had to rest it.”

Rehab followed and McGregor returned to athletic competition midway through Centralia’s volleyball season. By the time track practice rolled around and the first meet of the season in Adna, McGregor was healthy.

She exploded out of the gates with two victories and four top-three finishes.

“I put in a lot of work in practice and out of school, too. I put in a lot of time to be able to make it here,” McGregor said. “I had good meets and bad meets, but that leads up to the high moments.”

Important meets is where the right-hander shined.

McGregor eclipsed 96 feet at the Chehalis Activators Classic, Shaner Invite, sub-districts and districts.

“Our league prepares us for state,” Winkle said. “She’ll be confident and relaxed.”

Four years ago, McGregor picked up the javelin and threw it for “fun” during practice. That snowballed into a passion.

“I really like this,” McGregor said. “Since then, it has been my favorite event.”

During her sophomore year, she peaked at sub-districts with a throw of 94-07 to qualify for districts. Now, she’s getting ready for the biggest meet of her prep career.

She’ll be the very first thrower of the event, not a favorite to medal or make the finals. Yet that isn’t her mindset heading to Tacoma.

“Just to go out there, have fun and have all my coaches (with me) that got me to this point,” McGregor said.