Young Talent Adds to Growing Momentum

Photo by Kristine Banker – Names listed alphabetically: Boys: Blake Arthur, Boden Sayer, Caden Foley, Cannon Klumph, Chase Cameron, Christian Justham, Colin Nicholson, Colton Bennett, Conner Pace, Conner Stevens, Deacon Bachand, Devin Jackson, Dillan Davis, Domynic Daniel, Dylan Sharp, Eli Olson, Elisha Scofield, Gavin Tyler, Gunnar Summers, Henry Jones, Hunter Clark, Izack Slayter, Jack Simmons, Jackson Barringer, Jarron Slayter, Jayden Mancilla, Jim Nunn (Morgan), Joab Zeek, Jon Hart, Kaden Miller, Kaeson Walker, Kasey Kast, Kason Koenig Walters, Keagan Vogel, Keegan Jefferson, Kolton Kanui-Pollock, Kyle Porter, Kyle Sieminski, Laird Pettner, Landon Murry, Liam Martin, Logan Estep, Lukas Thompson, Marley Ortiz, Memphis Gay, Nicholaus MacKenzie, Nick Larson, Noah Valdez, Payton Messmer, Rickey Erickson, Roman Shreves, Ryker Burr, Taren Greunke, Thomas Culbertson, Girls: Abygail Foss, Aivaih Duran, Ally Downs, Alyssa Peterson, Amara Gonzales, Amelia Berg, Amelia Sullens, Beatrice Reeve, Brooke Elder, Delainie Pratt, Emily Rasmussen, Emmaline Durrett, Emmersin Coelho, Emry Vannice, Gracie Vaughan, Hannah Nicholson, Haylee Fortune, Jayla Moore, Jenaya McElhinny, Jess Martineau, Kaylee Looney, Kaylynn Mamac, Khloe Wood, Koharu Yasuda, Loralai Mark, Lydia Wright, Madison Looney, Madison Olheiser, Mahala Gourley Webster, Mailey Brewer, McKenzie Miller, McKenzie Olheiser, Michelle Slayton, Miu Simmons, Natiyah Koenig Walters, Peyton Markell, Rylee Markell, Samantha Pineda Villa, Selah Wright, Sophia Stock, Stephanie Saultz, Talitha Watkins, Timber Nobles.

Sweet Home’s track and field program is continuing to grow, in multiple ways, Head Coach Nathan Whitfield said last week.

The program has been gaining momentum since the COVID pandemic shutdown, which deep-sixed the season for a promising team in 2020. But recently, the Huskies have seen an influx of young – and enthusiastic – athletes, surprising everyone last year with a bigger-than-expected performance from a very young team that had only seven seniors – all of them boys.

And most of them are back this season to pick up where they left off.

This year’s team boasts 47 boys and 38 girls, for a total of  95 athletes, about triple what Whitfield said he had in his first year at the helm, 2021, and a quarter more than last year.

“We finally have a solid number of athletes,” Whitfield said last week, in which the Huskies held their intersquad meet on Thursday, March 14, which gave his team a chance to tune up and helped newcomers to the sport get a feel for competition after three weeks of practice. The event, results of which are listed below, was an abbreviated meet with shorter distances in some events and no relays or 3,000-meter run.

Whitfield noted that Sweet Home has lost some “studs” from last year’s boys team that finished fourth in the six-team Oregon West Conference, and the girls, who finished fifth with no senior girls on the team.

Gone to graduation is Mason Lopez, a three-time state qualifier in the javelin, and last year’s top point-scorer for Sweet Home. Also gone are Dakota Seiber, a district finalist in both the 100 and 200 last year, and Taevon James, who was third in the 200. Both were part of the short relay team that qualified for state. 

Returning from the boys short sprint quartet are juniors Chase Cameron, who was sixth at districts in 100  and eighth in 200 as a sophomore in his first year of track, and Conner Stevens, who teamed with Seiber and James last year to qualify for state in the 4×100 with a second-place finish at districts.

Also back is senior Kyle Sieminski, who just missed a trip to state with a third-place finish in districts as a junior in the 400 (53:36).

Sieminski will lead a surging middle distance crew, Whitfield said.

“He’s kind of a leader in clubhouse,” the coach said, noting that sophomore Dillan Davis and freshman  the state level in the 400 last year as an eighth-grader, are expected to add some muscle to that part of the team. 

Most of the points producers for the girls are back. On the girls side, Kaylynn Mamac, now a junior, was the team’s top short sprinter and a district finalist last year in the 200, (29:03), along with Lydia Wright, last year’s girls MVP, who is now a senior, in the 400 (1:06.53), along with Amelia Sullens (1:09.68), now a junior. Wright also made the finals in the 800 (2:42.09).

Bursting onto the scene for the girls in the intersquad meet was freshman Brooke Elder, who won the 100 (13.6), 200 (29.72), and 300 (48.76), trailed closely by several other talented freshmen, including Hannah Nicholson, who was third in all three sprints, and Amara Gonzalez, second in the 200.

Wright and Sullens are expected, along with junior Natiyah Koenig-Walters, to add some punch for the girls in the middle distances.

On the boys side, junior Kasey Kast is back after qualifying for state last year in the 800 (2:04.68). Kast ran 1:35.57 in the 600 event.

“Our middle distance looks really strong,” Whitfield said, adding that he expects a beefed-up 4×400 relay crew this year.

“What’s nice with that group is we essentially have all the guys returning from last year, faster and stronger. And we added a couple more on that team, which will be solid.”

In the distances, Keagan Vogel was seventh in the district as a freshman last year in the 3000, running 10:49. He is joined on the boys side by freshmen Kason Koenig-Walters and Hunter Clark, who went 1-2 in the 1200 meters in the intersquad meet, running 3:55.57 and 4:40.93 respectively.

On the girls side, Sweet Home is hoping for big things from sophomore McKenzie Miller, who was fourth last year in 5:13.05 and also in the 3000 (11:38.99) as a freshman in her first year of distance running, and then missed a trip to state by just one place last fall in cross-country. Miller ran 4:18.36 to win the intersquad 1200.

In the throws, the Huskies are missing Nathan Aker, who was district champion in the shot put last year as a junior (44-9¾) and was a rising star in the throws for the boys, but is no longer at the high school.

Also gone, to graduation, is Tomas Stafford, who was a big contributor in the discus.

But freshman Gavin Tyler showed some big potential in the shot in last week’s intersquad meet, winning the shot (40-0) and placing second in the javelin (120-5), behind junior Rickey Erickson, whose winning throw of 130-6 was just 2 feet short of the PR he posted last year at districts.

On the girls side, junior Jess Martineau returns after sixth-place finishes in the shot (28-8) and discus  (72-7) at last year’s districts, along with Selah Wright, who placed eighth at district in the shot as a freshman. In the javelin, junior Peyton Markell threw 88-10 to win the intersquad meet, well off the personal best of 99-4½  she threw last summer at the Nike Outdoor Nationals. In second was her sister, senior Rylee Markell, who posted a season-opening personal best of 81-2 – a PR of 7½ feet.

Conner Pace, a junior, won the discus with a throw of 117-10, 5 feet over his best from last year.

Whitfield said he is encouraged not only by the numbers but by the dedication he’s seeing.

“Right now, what’s cool is how hungry the kids are to compete,” he said. “It’s not just any one group. This whole team is hungry and wanting to work right now, which is a lot of fun.”

He said this year’s Huskies are picking up where last year’s team left off.

“I think the kids got a little hungry, somehow. It might have been competing well at last year’s districts or just something this year – whatever, they’re really wanting it, working hard, the underclassmen just following the upperclassmen’s lead and going for it. They’re staying right there with them. Luckily, we have some really good upperclassmen kind of leading.”

He noted that freshmen were among those who made some big statements in the intersquad meet.

“It went very well. We got to see some good things, especially from the newbies. It was real exciting to see how much potential we have.

“The freshmen did a great job stepping up, and the upperclassmen hitting right in stride.”

He noted that Wright and Sullens both performed well, Sullens tying with sophomore Delanie Pratt at 6-6 in the pole vault.

Also doing well was senior Colin Nicholson, who cleared 5-11 in the high jump. Nicholson is back after having his junior year abruptly shortened by an injury after he went 6-1 last year in the high jump and 37-8½ in the triple.

“He would have had a new PR if he hadn’t clipped the bar with his foot,” Whitfield said.

“It’s been a long time since we had a halfway decent high jumper – Ashton Stutzman and Tim McDowell, and Zoe James.”

Sweet Home has not been particularly strong in the jumps since COVID, with the exception of Tristan Calkins, who won a state title in 2021, but the presence of two new assistant coaches, Spencer Hart, who will handle the pole vault and long jump, and Angela Stevens, who will coach the high jump, could change that. And Calkins is serving as an assistant as well this year, focusing on the horizontal jumps.

Hart, who graduated from Philomath High School in 2015, was a top track performer for the Warriors, as a jumper, clearing 13-6 in the pole vault and 5-4 in the high jump.

Rounding out the coaching staff are veterans Randy Whitfield, Andy Waldrop, Ramiro Santana and Dave Martin, along with, Josie Macklin and Debbie Walvatne.

“I love our coaching staff, with the experience we have,” Nathan Whitfield said. “Martin has 40-plus year, and Randy and Ramiro with 20-plus years. I’m the third-youngest, but I think this is year 15 for me coaching.”

On the boys side, rounding out the boys roster are: seniors Blake Arthur, Taren Greunke, Kaden Miller and Eli Olson; juniors Colton Bennett, Jon Hart, Christian Justham, Jayden Mancilla, Marley Ortiz, Conner Pace, Laird Pettner, Boden Sayer, Dylan Sharp, Jarron Slayter, and Conner Stevens; sophomores Dillan Davis, Memphis Gay, Kyle Porter, Elisha Scofield, Roman Shreves and Lukas Thompson; and freshmen Hunter Clark, Thomas Culbertson, Domynic Daniel, Logan Estep, Caden Foley, Devin Jackson, Kegan Jefferson, Henry Jones, Kolton Kunui-Pollock, Kason Koenig-Walters, Nick Larson, Nicholaus MacKenzie, Payton Messmer, Landon Murry, Izack Slayter, Gunnar Summers, Noah Valdez and Kaeson Walker.

The girls roster includes: seniors Emily Rasmussen, Stephanie Saultz and Koharu Yasuda; juniors Abygail Foss, Kaylee Looney, Jenaya McElhinny, Timber Nobles, Samantha Pineda Villa, Beatrice Reeve and Sophia Stock; sophomores Amelia Berg, Ally Downs, Mahala Gourley Webster, and Madison Olheiser; and freshmen Mailey Brewer, Emmersin Coelho, Aivaih Duran, Haylee Fortune, Madison Looney, Mckenzie Olheiser, Miu Simmons, Michelle Slayton, Emry Vannice, Talitha Watkins and Khloe Wood.

“It’s a lot of kids to manage, but it’s a good number,” Whitfield said. “With the numbers we have, it’s going to be interesting. We don’t have the studs we had last year who we know would most likely qualify for state, but we have a lot of young kids who are coming on strong.

“We do have talent. It’s just a matter of making sure they’re in the right places.”

The Huskies open their regular season this Thursday at the Stayton Relays on March 21.

The Oregon West Conference looks as tough as ever. Philomath’s girls won the state title last year, with the boys also near the top of the team scoring at Hayward Field, and Whitfield said he expects the Warriors to be the team to beat this year, with a lot of returnees.

“They didn’t lose much,” he said. “Cascade will be solid too. They always are. Beyond that, it’s hard to tell.”

In addition to this year’s Meet of Champions, which Sweet Home will host on April 20, the Huskies will host Newport on April 4, Woodburn on April 11 and Stayton on April 30.

Districts will be at Newport on May 10-11.

After a long hiatus, Sweet Home will compete April 6 at the Sandy Invitational and will return on Friday, April 26, to the Rob Allen Twilight Invitational, hosted by Lebanon.

“We’re switching it up a little bit,” Whitfield said of the schedule. “Sandy, we haven’t been there for a long time, and the Rob Allen, we’re back after a bunch of years.

“I think we have grown up and are ready to handle (meets with bigger schools).

“It should be fun. We’ll see what the kids can do now that we have the practice meet out of the way.”

 

Intersquad Meet:

Boys Results

* Personal Best Time/Mark

100 –  (1) Chase Cameron  (11th grade) 11.69; (2) Kyle Sieminski (12the grade) 12.06*; (3) Landon Murry (9th grade) 12.40; (4) Ryker Burr (9) 12.49; (5) Dillan Davis (10) 12.51*; (6) Conner Stevens (11) 12.56; (7) Noah Valdez (9) 13.06; (8) Kaden Miller (12) 13.10; (9) Christian Justham (11) 13.19; (10) Nick Larson (9) 13.22; (11) Roman Shreves (10) 13.68; (12) Logan Estep (9) 13.88; (13) Domynic Daniel (9) 14.62; (14) Izack Slayter (9) 16.99.

200 – (1) Kyle Sieminski (12) 24.98*; (2) Dillan Davis (10) 25.42*; (3) Ryker Burr (9) 25.48; (4) Conner Stevens (11) 25.97; (5) Landon Murry (9) 26.37; (6) Kaeson Walker (9) 26.95; (7) Noah Valdez (9) 27.45; (8) Christian Justham (11) 27.63; (9) Elisha Scofield (10) 28.22; (10) Kegan Jefferson (9)  28.71; (11) Domynic Daniel (11) 30.78.

300 – (1) Kyle Sieminski (12) 39.52; (2) Dillan Davis (10) 40.30; (3) Ryker Burr (9) 41.19; (4) Christian Justham (11) 42.43; (5) Landon Murry (9) 42.79; (6) Kegan Jefferson (9) 42.20; (7) Kyle Porter (10) 50.47.

600 – (1) Kasey Kast (11) 1:35.57; (2) Kyle Porter (10) 2:09.93.

1200 – (1) Kason Koenig-Walters (9) 3:55.57; (2) Hunter Clark (9) 4:04.93; (3) Keegan Vogel (10) 4:15.83; (4) Thomas Culbertson (9) 4:36.48; (5) Izack Slayter (9) 4:42.54.

60 Hurdles – (1) Nick Larson (9) 10.75.

200 Hurdles – (1) Nick Larson (9) 32.35; (2) Izack Slayter (9) 40.45.

Shot Put – (1) Gavin Tyler (9) 40-0; (2) Dylan Sharp (11) 36-9; (3) Colton Bennett (11) 36-1*; (4) Conner Pace (11) 32-9½*; (5) Jon Hart (11) 32-1; (6) Jayden Mancilla (11) 29-9; (7) Taren Greunke (12) 27-3½; (8) Caden Foley (9) 25-10½; (9) Eli Olson (12) 25-5½; (10) Payton Messmer (9) 24-11; (11) Kolton Kanui-Pollock (9) 24-4½; (12) Jarron Slayter (11) 24-1; (13) Marley Ortiz (11) 18-2; (14) Henry Jones (9) 17-3½.    

Discus – (1) Conner Pace (11) 117-10*; (2) Dylan Sharp (11) 92-11; (3) Jon Hart (11) 90-3; (4) Colton Bennett (11) 85-5*; (5) Gavin Tyler 80-10; (6) Jayden Mancilla (11) 78-5½; (7) Kason Koenig-Walters (9) 73-10; (8) Eli Olson (12) 66-8*; (9) Caden Foley (9) 65-10½; (10) Memphis Gay 10) 58-11; (11) Payton Messmer (9) 55-5; (12) Taren Greunke (12) 52-3; (13) Jarron Slayter (11) 45-3½; (14) Henry Jones (9) 44-5. 

Javelin – (1) Rickey Erickson (11) 130-6; (2) Gavin Tyler (9) 120-5; (3) Laird Pettner (11) 117-8; (4) Boden Sayer (11) 92-8*; (5) Kolton Kanui-Pollock (9) 92-4; (6) Blake Arthur (12) 90-10; (7) Kaeson Walker (9) 88-9; (8) Payton Messmer (9) 76-4; (9) Jarron Slayter (11) 75-10; (10) Gunnar Summers (9) 72-4; (11) Memphis Gay (10) 71-4; (12) Lukas Thompson (10) 66-8; (13) Caden Foley (9) 56-9.

High Jump – (1) Colin Nicholson (12) 5-11; (2) Kaeson Walker (9) 4-4; (3) Elisha Scofield (10) 5-5; (4) Noah Valdez (9) 4-0.

Pole Vault – (1) Colin Nicholson (12) 5-11; (2) Kaeson Walker (9) 4-4; (3) Elisha Scofield (10) 4-4; (4) Noah Valdez (9) 4-0.

Long Jump – (1) Landon Murry (9) 15-7; (2) Kaeson Walker (9) 15-5; (3) Noah Valdez (9) 15-5; (4) Nick Larson (9) 14-6; (5) Elisha Scofield (10) 14-1; (6) Kegan Jefferson (9) 13-11; (7) Logan Estep (9) 13-1; (8) Domynic Daniel (9) 12-9.

Triple Jump – (1) Colin Nicholson (12) 35-9.

Girls Results

100 – (1) Brooke Elder (9) 13-6; (2) Kaylynn Mamac (11) 14-0; (3) Hannah Nicholson (9) 14.59; (4) Stephanie Saultz (12) 14.63; (5) Delainie Pratt (10) 14.84*; (6) Amara Gonzales (6) 14.7; (7) Emry Vannice (9) 15.25; (8) Khloe Wood (9) 14.30; (9) Abygail Foss (11) 15.2; (10) Jenaya Mcelhinny (11) 15.54; (11) Sophia Stock (11) 16.08; (12) Samantha Pineda Villa (11) 16.20*; (13) Aivaih Duran (9) 16.1; (14) Talitha Watkins (9) 16.61; (15) Amelia Berg (10) 16.5; (16) Mckenzie Olheiser (9) 16.82;  (17) Madison Olheiser (10) 17.73; (18) Ally Downs (10) 17.6.

200 – (1) Brooke Elder (9) 29.72; (2) Amara Gonzales (9) 31.72; (3) Hannah Nicholson (9) 31.87; (4) Stephanie Saultz (12) 32.05; (5) Jenaya Mcelhinny (11) 32.85; (6) Aivaih Duran (9) 34.13; (7) Emry Vannice (9) 34.74; (8) Amelia Berg (10) 35.86; (9) Samantha Pineda Villa (11) 36.25; (10) Mckenzie Olheiser (9) 36.46; (11) Talitha Watkins (9) 36.60; (12) Madison Olheiser (10) 40.08.

300 – (1) Brooke Elder (9) 48.76; (2) Lydia Wright (12) 49.48; (3) Hannah Nicholson (9) 50.45; (4) Khloe Wood (52.68; (5) Sophia Stock (11) 53.46; (6) Mckenzie Olheiser (9) 56.93.

600 – (1) Amelia Sullens (11) 1:58.34; (2) Lydia Wright (12) 2:01.65; (3) Natiyah Koenig-Walters (11) 2:07.22.

1200 – (1) Mckenzie Miller (10) 4:18.36; (2) Rylee Markell (12) 4:44.85; (3) Miu Simmons (9) 5:00.53.

55 Hurdles – (1) Kaylynn Mamac (11) 11.81; (2) Talitha Watkins (9) 13.97.

200 Hurdles – (1) Delainie Pratt (10) 36.67; (2) Beatrice Reeve (11) 40.02; (3) Miu Simmons (9) 45.88; (4) Koharu Yasuda (12) 46.82.

Shot Put – (1) Jess Martineau (11) 28-7; (2) Selah Wright (10) 26-6; (3) Madison Looney (9) 21-0¾; (4) Mailey Brewer (9) 20-1¼; (5) Kaylee Looney (11) 17-4; (6) Mahala Gourley Webster (10) 16-7; (7) Timber Nobles (11) 15-0½*.   

Discus – (1) Selah Wright (10) 69-8; (2) Jess Martineau 65-2½; (3) Mailey Brewer (9) 64-5; (4) Emmersin Coelho (9) 54-9½; (5)  Kaylee Looney (11) 46-6; (6) Madison Looney (9) 46-3½; (7) Haylee Fortune (9) 44-2; (10) Timber Nobles (11) 30-6*.

Javelin – (1) Peyton Markell (11) 88-10; (2) Rylee Markell (12) 81-2*; (3) Abygail Foss (11) 69-10; (4) Emily Rasmussen (12) 66-8; (5) Emmersin Coelho (9) 54-8; (6) Haylee Fortune (9) 43-10.

High Jump – (1) Khloe Wood (9) 3-8.

Pole Vault – (1-tie) Delainie Pratt (10), Ameilia Sullens (11)  6-6; (3) Natiyah Koenig-Walters (11) 6-6.

Long Jump – (1) Beatrice Reeve (11) 14-4; (2) Amara Gonzales (9) 13-3; (3) Khloe Wood (9) 13-1; (4) Brooke Elder (9) 13-1; (5) Sophia Stock (12) 12-2; (6) Emry Vannice (9) 11-7.

Total
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