For the past few years, a Frontier League championship has eluded Valley boys track teams.
Last year West Valley finished second and East Valley was third behind Cheney.
The year before, Clarkston and Cheney finished ahead of the two Valley teams.
Coaches at both schools would like to remedy the situation. “We haven’t won one for so long,” said veteran West Valley coach Jim McLachlan, “because we haven’t been able to win the close meets. We’re looking for another level of commitment.” With many of last year’s district placers graduated, it will be up to unfamiliar names from the two schools in order to regain the glory of year’s past.
“We’ll hold our own,” said EV cocoach Dave McCarty. “But we’re back to the EV mode of having throwers and distance people and not having sprinters.”
WV blends new and old
If the Eagles are to win the critical meets that they have failed to do in recent seasons, it will happen with a blend of familiar and new faces.
Back from last year is high jumper Brian Lindley, who cleared 6-feet-7 and could also be called upon in the sprints.
Sophomore Mike Schroder, a 180-foot plus javelin thrower and state placer, will help fill a void in the horizontal jumps.
The Eagles also return state qualifying 800 meter runner Nic Kellams and 3,200 qualifier Levi Lounder among an experienced distance crew.
They’ll be surrounded by new faces and improved letter winners.
West Valley’s sprints and long jump got a big boost when Cory Gammon, who lives in the district but attended Central Valley, came back for his senior year. Gammon ran 10.9 last year and took seventh in the AAA regional.
Freshman Devion Tensley and sophomore Joe Oka are other jump prospects.
“It’s an area we’ve got to shore up,” said McLachlan.
Schroder and junior Joe Bonner could be the league’s best javelin throwers. Joining them is shot putter Al Leong, a junior.
They are part of a deep discus and shot put crew that includes Joe Cariss, Vinnie Pecht, Chris Taylor, Ryan Stockton, Dan Dodge, Alex Cox, Patrick Cooley, Ken Dilloo and D.J. Millhouse.
“The throws will be better than they were last year and the javelin is the best it’s ever been,” said McLachlan.
Besides Gammon and Oka in the sprints are fourth-place district 400 finisher Gavin Tucker, Dave Cooper, Josh Ludwig, Dale White, Jim Almond and Jeff Thomas.
Other distance runners include sophomore state cross country qualifier and district track placer Clayton Holmes, 3,200 placer Lenny Leigh, plus newcomers Eric Brosvik, Steve Moore, Aaron Mortensen, Jay Cardwell and Eric Walters.
Returnees in the hurdles are Sam Ryd and Joel Baldwin.
Lindley is joined by Jeremy Schroder in the high jump. Pole vaulters include Aaron Lehinger, Cooper, Rory Collins and Josh Rieger.
“I’m really happy with the group,” said McLachlan. “It’s by far the best I’ve had in three years.”
EV looking for sprinters
The Knights took a hit when the league’s best returning sprinter moved away.
But the team should still be relatively strong overall even if thin in the short races.
“We don’t really have any super stars,” said co-coach Nick Lazanis. “But we have kids in every event.”
At district last year Brian Frey placed in both hurdles races and finished third in the triple jump.
Pat Ferguson was a two-event district placer in the long and triple jumps. Jason Sharp, Albert Ruperd and Jeff Sharp, Jason’s twin, are three of the league’s best pole vaulters.
Josh Ostrander was second in the district javelin.
Veterans Mike Giblin and Rob Shogren provide hurdles depth.
In the distances, Geoff McLachlan, who just missed reaching state in the 800 and 1,600 meter runs, is rehabilitating an achilles injury.
“We don’t know when, if ever, we will get him back,” said co-coach Dave McCarty.
But the Knights have Chris Henderson, a state qualifying cross country runner, and 2:00 half-miler Jeremiah Skirvin solidify the distances.
Depth is provided by Ryan Skinner, Bryan McCarty and Dustin Sletner.
EV 400 runner John Austin, part of a successful long relay team is the most experienced.
Candidates are freshman Brandon Blize, a star junior high sprinterjumper-hurdler, Don Snyder, sophomore 400 runner Chad Brazington, junior Jesse Ewell and sophomore Jerry Claridge who are also in the jumps.
Throwers include senior Levi Barker and his sophomore brother Sean Barker, Ken Skogen in the discus, Brad Howey in the shot put, junior Josh Phillips and senior Aaron Wilkinson, already at 163 feet in the javelin.
“He’s gotten interested in javelin throwing and is liable to be right in the middle of it,” said Lazanis of Wilkinson.
Jake Kammers is a pole vaulter and high jumper.