Track and Field 2014

Scott Swanson

Heading into the 2014 track and field season, Coach Billy Snow says the Huskies are a work in progress.

Anyone who has paid any attention at all to Sweet Home track over the years has heard that before. Snow’s philosophy is not to go into the season with a lot of preconceived notions. Rather, he and his assistants try to keep open minds and encourage their youthful charges to try different events.

It works. The list is long of Huskies who’ve ended up going to state in events they’d never considered competing in before coaches or circumstances prevailed.

“I always like to think back to Mike Severns,” Snow said, recalling one of the top javelin throwers Sweet Home has ever had. Severns was a sprinter and long jumper who came up lame. He finished third in state in the javelin, and Snow said if the field hadn’t been particularly strong that year, he would have won.

“If he had not gotten hurt and we hadn’t thrown him in the javelin, we’d never have known. He was a sprinter/jumper. He still did those, but we were able to add another one in there, which became his best event.”

The Huskies lost some key leadership in graduates such as Sabrina Davis and David Skeen, Snow said, but a lot of their scorers from the district meet are back.

They include senior Ben Terry and junior Jakob Hiett, last year’s district champions in the shot put and the 3000 respectively, and returning girls qualifiers Nicole Rasmussen (3000), Kaitlyn Watts (discus), India Porter (triple jump) and the girls 4×100 relay team of Porter, Haley and Courtney Kent, and Josie Knight, who kept Sweet Home’s streak of qualifiers in that event alive for the fifth straight year.

Hiett, who also qualified in the 1500, placed fifth in a 3000 field loaded with upperclassmen, in a 15-second personal best of 8:49.01, five seconds off the school record set in 1976. He placed seventh in the 1500, and Terry was also seventh. None of the girls made the finals to place at state.

Now it’s a new year.

“Our major scorers are back, but at the same time we have an influx of young kids, JV kids or new kids, and the question is how can we fit them in?” Snow said. Though the team is a little smaller than the 90-some athletes who signed up at the beginning of last year, he said coaches are pretty happy with this bunch.

“Our numbers are down a little bit, but the kids we do have are working hard,” Snow said. “They have a great attitude and that’s the fun part. We’re in the mid-70s, or something like that, but if we were betting people, we’d bet we wouldn’t lose that many.

“If the weather would stay nice, that will help.”

The Huskies’ season is slightly off-kilter this year, with the state meet nearly a week early and, consequently, the first meet is this Friday, essentially the first day of Spring Break. Because of that scheduling, Sweet Home held its first-ever “track camp,” voluntary workout opportunities that many athletes took advantage of before official practices began two weeks ago.

“We’re taking lists of names of people who are telling us they won’t be there,” Snow said.

It’s also at Central, which will be Sweet Home’s first visit to the Panthers’ revamped stadium in several years.

“The first meet is coming quicker, so that’s why we had our track camp. We’ll get our feet wet and see where we’re at,” he said.

In the sprints, the entire girls 4×100 state-qualifying relay team is back, led by the Kent twins, both seniors. On the boys side, senior Spencer Knight returns after barely missing a trip to state in the 100 last year – even though he ran 11.30, the sixth-fastest 100 time in school history, but was outleaned at the wire by Gaige Macomber of Cottage Grove and Garrett Lewellen of Elmira, both of whom have graduated. Coaches noted later that if Knight had run that time at state, he would have been third.

THROWERS include, in front, from left, Hailey Dellinger, Natasha Benson, Shania Baxter, Adriana Perez, Emily Ramsey and Hannah Mather. In rear, from left, are Amanda Hubbard, Sadie Gordon, Kaitlyn Watts, Brenton Clark, Charlie Guerrero, Egan Shamek, Shelby Dinsfriend, Brycen Mitten, Eric Whitlow, Garrison Whitfield, Gavin Baskin, Daniel Sappington, Jordan Miller and Alexia Chase.

Also back are several third-place finishers at last year’s districts: high jumper Ashton Stutzman, Courtney Kent in the 300 hurdles, Haley Kent in the 200 and Porter, a junior, in the 400.

“In our guys short relay, we have Spencer and Eric (Flierl) coming back,” Snow said. “The other two spots are wide open. The girls are the opposite. They’re all back, so we’ll just have to find some subs, some alternates.”

He expects some of the newcomers “to make their mark. They’ll add something.”

The distance events will be bolstered by athletes who made state in cross-country on both the boys and girls side. Hiett is clearly expected to make an impact on the boys side and Rasmussen, a senior, is a three-time state qualifier in the 3000 for the girls.

In the throws, Watts leads some veterans in the girls discus and then-freshman Josie Knight was fourth in the shot at district last year. Along with Terry in the shot, the boys have experienced javelin throwers in Kyle Rose and Brycen Mitten.

Mitten could also contribute in the triple jump.

“We’re pretty thin in the high jump and the pole vault,” Snow said. “In the field events we just have to develop depth.

“My goal is to have what (Assistant Coach Randy Whitfield) had years ago, in 2003 or 04 – four guys in the javelin over 150 feet. One got left out. Great thrower and would have placed on another team. We won every field event that year on the guys side except the high jump – and we placed two there.”

The boys roster is rounded out by seniors Brenton Clark, Robert Gourley, Chace Hutchins, Wanrada Puangmalai and Lihn Vu; juniors Daniel Sappington and Ian Wingo; sophomores TJ Baham, Gavin Baskin, Matt Davis, Charlie Guerrero, Julian Hesberg, Hunter Olsen, Joe Rasmussen, Spenser Spencer, Garrison Whitfield and Eric Whitlow; and freshmen Justin Carpenter, Jacob Erickson, Evan Feigum, Tyler Fincher, Oscar Hernandez, Issac Justham, Wes Parker, Tucker Porter, Trey Reed, Nick Rietz, Egan Shamek, Dillon Stutzman and Nick Tolman.

The girls roster is rounded out by seniors Sadie Gordon, Amanda Hubbard, Hannah Mather and Mami Sakamoto; juniors Jordan Miller, Alex Olin, Sierrah Owen and Adriana Perez; sophomores Ashton Makenna, Mikaela Batchelor, Natasha Benson, Maria Daniels, Hailey Dellinger, Sarah Dunkley, Kiesha Goble, Kayleen Keeney, Makallha Mederos, Megan Oberg, Lilly Parker, Emily Ramsey and Sierra Swanson; and freshmen Josie Balcom, Shania Baxter, Dana Hiett, Ilima Kaauwai-Walker, Natasha Rasmussen and Ivy Weidner. Snow said a few other students may also join the team.

Snow is assisted by Jim Kistner, Ramiro Santana, Randy Whitfield, Krystle Streight, Aaron Watts, Lindsey Haggas and Andrew Allen.

Looking at the rest of the league, Snow said he thinks Cottage Grove was hit hard by graduation on the girls side, but he’s not counting the Lions out, and Elmira and Sisters have quality athletes, particularly on the track.

On the boys side, La Pine lost star sprinter Jeremy Derosier to graduation, along with some other quality athletes from the Hawks’ state championship team. He sees Cottage Grove and Sisters as the early favorites as the season begins, because both have speed.

“Having speed is always awesome because there’s so much you can do with it,” he said. “If you’ve got slow-twitch muscle fibers, there’s only so much you can do.”