There’ll be no more training in gravel or traveling to find an all-weather practice surface for University High School’s track team.
On a bright, if blustery, first day of spring, the Titans inaugurated their colorful new all-weather facility Thursday with a jamboree that included West Valley and Lewis and Clark.
None of the competitors was born when a varsity track meet was last conducted at U-Hi. Activities coordinator Bill Ames was the coach. Current coach Keven Frandsen was one of his athletes.
“It was 1976,” said Frandsen. “I know. I ran in it. It was sometime in April and it was snowing.”
A jayvee meet was run on the old cinder surface about a decade ago.
“It was raining so much salmon were spawning on the backstretch,” quipped girls coach Steve Llewellyn. “The rest of the league said they were not having a meet here again.”
The precedent-setting track had been reconfigured metrically in 1974 when other tracks were still measured in yards. But it took two more decades and four coaches for it to get its all-weather surface, the last in the Greater Spokane League to do so.
“I never thought I’d see it,” said cross country coach Bob Barbero, who has been at U-Hi 20 years. “When I was first hired, they told me we’d have it in two years.”
The track coach who followed Ames, Mike Van Matre, is now assistant principal at East Valley and was the meet’s starter.
“I had to be at this one,” he said. “I remember it was like running on a beach. It was so soft, at least it saved on shin splints.”
Ames, who will retire after next year, was given a plaque commemorating the occasion.
“It’s good to get it out of the way,” he said. “All we had to do was put it in. We have it now.”
University will host two Greater Spokane League meets. The first on April 17 will include Central Valley and a formal dedication.
In the meantime 170 boys and girls, U-Hi’s biggest turnout, have a place they truly can call home.
NWGA boys win first state title
An impressive 14-point scoring advantage gave Northwest Gymnastics Academy’s Level IV boys the Washington State Men’s Gymastic’s Championships team title.
During the same meet in Bellevue, three Lilac City Gymnastics competitors won all around titles.
Kevin Olson of Lilac City won his third consecutive championship, taking Level IV competition.
His brother, Isaac Olson won Level V for the second straight year and David Baum won his age group, also in Level V.
Northwest Gymnastics Academy garnered its first team championship in owner Mike Armstrong’s first year as boys coach.
“I’m very proud of what these young men accomplished,” he said.
Nick Antich led boys 12 and older with a second place all around score of 43.1. He remained unbeaten in floor exercise.
Parallel bars winner Brian Veltegui had his best all around performance, scoring 41.55 for third.
Placing fourth at 40.825 was Steven Dunn. He won rings.
Matthew Croskrey finished sixth overall.
In age 10-11, Stewart Renz was second all around at 41.125 and vault winner.
Other NWGA success stories included Paul Hannibal’s 9.2 floor exercise win in Level VI (10-11). Lane Morgan won age 7-9 high bar.
Other Lilac City placers were were Level VI participants Andrew Smith and Justin Parks.
Parks and his all around champion teammates, NWGA’s Level IV gymnasts and Hannibal have qualified for regional competition April 10-13 in Anchorage, Alaska.
Also qualified are NWGA Level II gymnastics Dillon Reeve and Aaron Sheck, who will attempt to advance to the Junior Olympics National Championships in Orlando, Fla.
SEG girls lead March Madness
Spokane Elite Gymnastics girls won three levels of the March Madness Cup at NWGA and finished second in another.
Level 5 winners got all around victories by Kelly Norris in 12 and older, Katie Bezdicek in 11-year-old and Kayla Wagner in 7-8s and also had a pair of runners-up.
In level 6, Sarah Woodard was first all around, winning vault and beam, while Nicole Sargent won bars and floor exercise among 11-year-olds.
Amy Snyder won 12 and older, while Amy Keppler had a near-perfect 9.8 vault.
SEG level 9-10 gymnasts also won, with Meloney Monaghan scoring 36.025 to win all around. She had a 9.55 bar routine.
Placing second were level 8 gymnasts. Katie Dinsmore won 12-13 all around with firsts on bars, beam and floor exercise.
Amy Brandle won beam and tied for first on floor exercise in the 8-11 age group.
Liberty Lake golfers to start
Members of the Liberty Lake Ladies Golf Club will begin their season April 1 with a clubhouse continental breakfast meeting at 8:30 a.m. Golf will follow at 10. New members are welcome to join.
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