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Coaches: SHJH track team sees big efforts, improvements during season


June 20, 2018

Sweet Home Junior High track team members include, in front, from left, Ian Buczko, Grace Parker, Enara Roddy, Paige Chafin, David Steagall, Wyatt Dugger, Lydia Wright, Madeline Caotes, Rylie Hooley, Aiyana Grimes, Dominic Rodriguez and Meeja Bitter. In the second row, from left, are Dana Looney, Eli Olson, Jacob ingram, Kaden Zajic, Mercedes Burks, Brooke Dodge, Dylan Spence, Bailey Womack, Alex Springer and Madison Harris. In the third row, from left, are Emily Pace, Dakota Seiber-Moore, Ryan Tyndall, Sam Martineau, Chris Christman, Joseph Hiemenz, Jorel Leyba, Megan Baham, Aiden Shamek and Riley Korn. In the rear, from left, are Coach Justin Carpenter, Coach Don Knight, Caleb Christman, Dacotah Pennington, Nathaniel Coleman, Victor Meza-Rojas, Alex Miller, Adaira Burger, Claire James, Charles Crawford, Tyler Lemmer and Coach John Mithen. Not pictured are Wyatt Aiello, Brian Frick, Levi Gaskey, Isabel Sayer and Coach Kelsey Harris.

Sweet Home Junior High's track team finished the year with three qualifiers for the Meet of Champions – with one competing, but coaches say it was the steady improvement of all their 50-some athletes who turned out that was most exciting.

Despite some cold weather early on, including at the Tigers sole home meet on April 11, "we had a great group of hard-working kids," said Coach Don Knight.

Coach John Mithen said "pretty much every competitors at each meet improved by leaps and bounds." He said team numbers hovered between 40 and 50 for most of the season.

Knight said the Tigers were particularly strong this year in the middle distances, continuing a trend that, he pointed out, helped get four high school relay teams to the state meet this season, with significant contributions from freshmen who ran for the junior high last season.

"Those kids came through our junior high program," he said.

Eighth-grader Jorel Leyba competed for the Tigers at the Meet of Champions on May 24, which is the equivalent of the state meet at the junior high level, running the 400 in 58.45, a little off his season best of 57.14. The other Tigers to qualify for the meet were eighth-grader Aiyana Grimes in the 200 and seventh-grader Kaden Zajic in the javelin.

Leyba was the Tigers' most consistent boys winner during the season, in the 400, 800 and long jump.

But also winning events were eighth-graders Charles Crawford (800 and shot put), Jacob Ingram (high jump), Ryan Tyndall (high jump), seventh-graders Caleb Christman (200) Christopher Christman (high jump), Zajic (aero and turbo javelin), and sixth-grader Ian Buczko (aero javelin).

For the girls, eighth-grader Paige Chafin was undefeated in the 400, running a season's best 69.74 in her final meet, and classmate Claire James was undefeated in the shot put, throwing a PR of 38-0 with the six-pound shot.

Also winning for Sweet Home were: eighth-grader Mercedes Burks (high jump), Brooke Dodge (discus), Grimes (100, 200), Madison Harris (long jump) and Claire James (shot); seventh-grader Enara Roddy, who threw 71-2 to win her final outing in the aero javelin; and sixth-grader Madeline Coates (turbo javelin).

The Tigers had four coaches this year, Knight, Mithen, Kelsey Harris and Justin Carpenter, and Mithen said they got a lot of help from the high school coaches and athletes, who helped make the junior high home meet a success despite less-than-desirable conditions.

"The meet ran smoothly and efficiently," he said, noting that retired track coaches Billy Snow and Alan Temple helped make that happen.

"The season begins on the first week of March, 2019. We look forward to another tenacious year of running, throwing and jumping," Mithen said.


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