Sieminski, Wright named Most Valuable for Track and Field Team

Husky track and field honorees include, in front from left, Delainie Pratt, Brooke Elder and McKenzie Miller. In second row, from left, are Miu Simmons, McKenzie Olheiser, Rylee Markell, Selah Wright, Lydia Wright and Amara Gonzales. In the rear, from left, are Kyle Sieminski, Chase Cameron, Kasey Kast, Dylan Sharp, Cannon Klumph, Elisha Scofield, Dillan Davis and Ryker Burr. Photo by Scott Swanson

Seniors Lydia Wright and Kyle Sieminski were named Most Valuable Athletes for the track and field team Friday, May 24, at the Huskies’ awards dinner.

Assistant Coach Josie Macklin, who presented the awards, said that although the MVP award is often based on which athlete scored the most points for the team, another criteria is “the most valuable teammate, which is what we have here.”

Sieminski, she noted, went four-for-four at districts, qualifying for state in all his events, including the 300 Hurdles, which he first attempted the week prior to the conference championships and in which he eventually wound up placing fifth at state, with big PR’s each time he ran the race up to the state final.

Sieminski was, Macklin said, “a huge part of our program the last four years,” moving over from wrestling, his preferred sport, to be a “super valuable part of our team.”

Sieminski ran a leg on the state-qualifying 4×100 Relay team, the anchor leg on the 4×400 Relay team that placed seventh at state, and qualified for state in the 400, just missing the final.

“This is not even his thing,” Macklin said. “He’s a wrestler. We all know that. He came out and did track and still gave it everything he had.”

Wright, she said, was an invaluable part of the team. Wright repeated as MVP honoree after being selected for the award last year as well.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do without Lydia,” she said. “Lydia does everything. She runs our warmups. She’s at everything. She’s at every workout. She’s so valuable as a teammate.”

Wright competed in the girls 4×400, and placed in both the 400 and 800 at districts, a “crazy combo that she did all the time and never complained,” Macklin said. “Lydia is going to be really, really, really missed next year.”

Head Coach Nathan Whitfield noted that Wright and fellow senior Rylee Markell, who were also the team’s only four-year letter winners, represented the growth of the team since he took over as the head coach during their freshman year, which was also the COVID year.

“These were my first two,” he said as he presented their certificates. “My first year coaching was COVID. We had a six-week season and – I believe (this year) we had 96 kids signed up for the team. Their freshman year we had 26, maybe 30 if we were lucky.

“These two individuals helped me build this. Without these two I wouldn’t have been able to do this. Showing up every day and getting to work with individuals like these two makes it worth it.”

Whitfield told the crowd of athletes and families and friends that the Huskies posted 59 personal bests at the district meet, compared to 48 at last year’s districts, with the boys placing second as a team, tying Philomath, and the girls finishing with 11 points more than they were projected to score.

“It’s really impressive what these kids did.”

This year’s boys team listed 20 freshmen and 27 underclassmen among its 51 members, scoring 37 of the boys’ 134 team points at district in individual events,  while 14 of the girls team’s 42 members were freshmen, along with eight sophomores. Those freshmen and sophomores scored 41 of the girls’ 65½ points at the district meet – including the short relay team, which was all underclassmen.

Whitfield announced that the Huskies also did well in the classroom, both the boys and girls teams finishing in the top 10 of the state academic rankings this year.

Sprinter of the Year for the girls was freshman Brooke Elder, “one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met,” according to Macklin, who presented those awards. Elder was the fastest short sprinter for Sweet Home and the only girl to break 29 seconds in the 200. She also anchored the girls 4×100 Relay team at districts, which finished fourth after being seeded sixth.

For the boys, the top sprinters were the 4×400 team of Sieminski, sophomore Dillan Davis, and juniors Kasey Kast and Chase Cameron, which was seventh at state after being seeded 12th.

Macklin also noted that junior Conner Stevens, even though he didn’t get a state medal this year, has been a member of three straight state-qualifier short relay teams for the Huskies, including this year’s.

Distance Runners of the Year were Kast and sophomore McKenzie Miller.

Assistant Coach Dave Martin introduced them, pointing out that Kast has made state twice in the 800, – thanks to a PR last year at districts, but qualifying and then posting a big personal best this year at state, just missing the podium.

“This year was a different experience,” Martin said. “Kasey’s gotten consistently faster, stronger. I have another year to work with him and I’m really excited.”

He said Kast is close to Sweet Home’s top 10 in the 800 – he’s run 2:02.50 and needs to crack 1:59.2.

Miller, Martin said, is “the sweetest person in the world” who experienced a “tough” season, including a bout with illness midway through.

At districts in Newport she posted an 11-second PR of 11.16.60 in the 3000 in “ugly” conditions to place third, then followed that up the next day with a third-place finish in the 1500, in which she PR’d by 14 seconds in 5:05.13 – 1.2 seconds per lap, which puts her at No. 9 on Sweet Home’s list of fastest 1500 times.

“She’s knocking on the door,” Martin said.

Jumper of the Year for the girls was sophomore Delainie Pratt, who became the first Sweet Home girl to qualify for state in the Pole Vault and was the first girl the Huskies have sent to state since 2021.

“Delainie is a very persistent competitor,” said assistant Spencer Hart, who coached the vaulters this year. He told how, early in the season, Pratt spiked herself “nearly to the bone” in the heel, then went on to post a 4-inch personal best in the event.

The boys Jumper of the Year was senior Colin Nicholson, who finished seventh at state in the Triple Jump with a PR of well over a foot at 41-7 1⁄4, and also qualified for state in the High Jump.

Throwers of the Year were junior Dylan Sharp and sophomore Selah Wright.

Sharp placed seventh at state in the Shot Put, throwing just short of the big PR he’d set the week before, 46-11 1⁄4, to win the district title.

Wright was the Huskies’ top performer in districts in both the Shot and the Discus, and was second in the Javelin for the girls.

Newcomers of the Year went to freshmen Gavin Tyler and Nick Larson on the boys side, and to Elder and fellow freshmen Miu Simmons and McKenzie Olheiser on the girls.

Larson finished third in the 110 Hurdles and sixth in the 300 Hurdles at districts, the only freshman in the latter race and the top freshman in the 110s.

Tyler, Whitfield told the crowd, is Sweet Home’s top freshman in the shot by five feet at 44-10¼, placing third at districts in that event.

“We’re expecting some crazy, great things from him,” Whitfield said.

Simmons and Olheiser both tried the Triple Jump late in the season, and although they didn’t score at districts, they both posted significant PR’s in that competition.

“They ended up doing phenomenal for us,” Hart said, introducing them.

The Will to Win Award, which goes to athletes who go all-out, despite the conditions, went to Pratt and freshman Amara Gonzales for the girls, and Larson and Davis for the boys.

“We had such an awesome team this year,” Macklin said, introducing the honorees. “Most of them went out every day and worked their butts off.”

She related how Gonzales was “thrown into so many things” – all the sprints and relays and the Long Jump.

“Whatever we needed, we asked her to do it and she did it. We put her in all the 400 workouts and if you are a 400 runner, you know they are not easy. She just worked really hard and never complained about it.”

Larson, she said, “is a freshman who loves track so much, he was there every day, ready to work.”

Even after just missing state, he continued to work on his hurdling while the state qualifiers were on the track, preparing for the competition, she said.

The Coaches Award, which team members do not vote on, Whitfield noted, went to “kids whom I love to build our program around.”

Honorees were Gonzales, Lydia Wright, freshman Talitha Watkins, Markell, sophomore jumper Elijah Scofield, Sharp, freshman Ryker Burr and sophomore Cannon Klumph.

“They have an incredible work ethic. They run the team in the place of us. They’re great leaders,” he said, adding, “This team is an incredible team because of kids like this one. I could have made the list twice as long, but I limited it to eight.”

Third-year letters went to Chase Cameron, Jon Hart, Kasey Kast, Kaylynn Mamac, Peyton Markell, Jess Martineau, Conner Pace, Beatrice Reeve, Dylan Sharp, Stephanie Saultz, Kyle Sieminski, Conner Stevens and Amelia Sullens.

Second-year letter winners were Deacon Bachand, Dillan Davis, Rickey Erickson, Abygail Foss, Cannon Klumph, Loralai Mark, McKenzie Miller, Colin Nicholson, Delainie Pratt, Keagan Vogel, and Natiyah Koenig-Walters.

Earning their first varsity letter were Jackson Barringer, Colton Bennett, Mailey Brewer, Ryker Burr, Hunter Clark, Thomas Culbertson, Brooke Elder, Amara Gonzales, Nick Larson, Jayla Moore, Landon Murry, Hannah Nicholson, McKenzie Olheiser, Elisha Scofield, Roman Shreves, Jack Simmons, Miu Simmons, Sophia Stock, Gavin Tyler, Noah Valdez, Kaeson Walker, Kason Koenig-Walters, Khloe Wood and Koharu Yasuda.

Participation Awards went to Blake Arthur, Amelia Berg, Emmersin Coelho, Domynic Daniel, Ally Downs, Aivih Duran, Logan Estep, Caden Foley, Hailey Fortune, Memphis Gay, Mahala Gourley-Webster, Taren Greunke, Devin Jackson, Henry Jones, Kolton Kanui-Pollock, Kaylee Looney, Madison Looney, Timber Nobles, Jayden Mancilla, Liam Martin, Payton Messmer, Jim Morgan, Devon Paxton, Laird Pettner, Kyle Porter, Boden Sayer, Izack Slayter, Jarron Slayter, Michelle Slayton, Gunnar Summers, Lukas Thompson, Gracie Vaughn, Samantha Pineda Villa, Talitha Watkins and Joab Zeek.