Track and field is the ultimate numbers game – fast times, the highest heights and the longest distances.
So far, the numbers look pretty good across the Valley – in fact, Central Valley is literally trying to set the bar high.
The CV boys are trying to corner the market on high jumpers. So far, four of the top five marks in that event have been put up by CV underclassmen. Junior Max Sykes leads the pack, already having cleared 6-feet-5. Freshman Jakobe Ford and sophomore Ben Craig have cleared 6-4 and junior Liam Howard has cleared 6-feet.
“They’re good kids with the potential to go higher,” coach Chuck Bowden said. “They have jumped well due to some better weather at our first meets.”
Junior Parker Bowden, the coach’s son, already is a two-time district champion, returning regional champion and a multi-event threat – running both the 110 meter and 300 meter hurdles as well as the long jump, triple jump and high jump and running a leg on the 4x100 relay. In fact, his dad explained, he will begin training to compete in the decathlon over the summer.
Coach Bowden has strong senior leadership from Austyn Knudsen and Nick Shaber, who make up half of the Bears’ 4x400 relay team, and from distance specialists Austin Seely and Matt Hommel.
But the strength of the team, Bowden said, is the junior class.
Briton Demars already has broken Sean Coyle’s junior class record in the 1600, and Trevor Brown looks to continue the family tradition of pole vault excellence.
The CV girls already have some outstanding numbers as well.
Senior Mariah Cunningham owns the state’s best mark in the long jump, where she’s already jumped 17 feet, 9 1/2 inches in an event where only four athletes have jumped 17-feet or longer. She’s also cleared 5-feet in the high jump.
Freshman Kelsey Turnbow is one of only two sprinters to run under 13 seconds in the 100 meters and classmate Anna Fomin is one of only two sprinters to clock sub-27 second times in the 200 while Turnbow has run 27.18.
Sophomore Briegan Bester’s 5:14.65 time in the 1600 is the league’s best mark by almost 10 full seconds, and junior Madison Hovren’s times in both the 100 and 300 hurdles are among the league’s best.
The Lady Bears’ 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams are state caliber.
The Titans’ Eddie Gonzalez graduated after twice winning the state high jump championship, clearing 6-10 to win the title last year, but the cupboard isn’t bare for U-Hi. Junior Gabe George already has cleared 6-0.
University’s long tradition of pole vaulting excellence remains in good hands. Senior Daniel Martin has cleared 13-6 already this spring and Noah Martin has gone 12-6. Senior Forrest Rogers has cleared 12-0.
Junior Scott Kopczynski already is proving himself to be a threat at any distance, holding top times in the 800, 1600 and 3200, while classmate Cody Sherwood and West Valley’s Tevin Duke figure to duel it out as the Great Northern League’s top sprinters.
The East Valley girls will again be strong.
Sophomore Brittany Aquino, already a state meet veteran, owns the district’s top times in both the 800 and 3200 and has the second-best time in the 1600.
Hurdler Zoe Novakovich will likely battle Deer Park’s Anna Cartee for the top time in the 100 meter hurdles.
Elisha Allred has posted the district’s top mark in the discus, throwing 122-4, but watch her up that mark substantially. She posted four throws of better than 140 feet in front of college recruiters in one workout and is assured a chance to throw in college.
Senior Alex Rankin, too, is poised to up her season best 5-0 in the high jump.
“She was clearing 5-2 in practice, and she was clearing it by about four inches,” coach Shane Toy said.
West Valley coach Vic Wallace is widely renowned for his prowess with sprinters, and his latest speedster is Tevin Duke, younger brother of state long-jump champion Terrynce Duke and already a state relay team veteran.
Duke’s best event is the 200 meters, where he has the second fastest time in the district, running 23.10. Ephrata’s Jonathan Green has the top time, 21.61.
Junior Skylar Ovnicek is the Eagles’ top distance runner, posting top times in the 800, 1600 and 3200.
Senior Marcus Jackson has the district’s best time in the 110 hurdles and is the only hurdler to run under 16 seconds (15.45) and one of just three to run the 300 hurdles in under 42 seconds (41.62).
West Valley will have two top relay teams, and the Eagles own the district’s top time in the 4x100, turning in a 43.89.
The WV Girls’ McCall Skay is the only distance runner in the district with a faster time than EV’s Aquino – besting her in the 1600 and setting up what should be a series of great head-to-head races when the teams meet for their dual meet and at the district meet.
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