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Track team has big turnout


Team has nearly 100 athletes, including several returning state placers

When the Crook County High School track and field team opens its season Thursday afternoon at Ward Rhoden Stadium in Prineville, Head Coach Ernie Brooks is excited about what he’s going to see.

“You know, I’m excited,”?Brooks said. “I’m very pleased with how they are working and competing together. They want to have fun, but when it comes time they bust their tails working hard and that goes a long way when we get into April and May.”

Brooks isn’t quite sure what to expect at Thursday’s meet, which starts with field events at 3:30 p.m.

“We have a lot of young kids, that’s the thing,” he said. “It’s only the third week into it and we want to get this early training in and see what we can do.”

Brooks noted that he expects the girl’s team to be especially strong this year. Although La Grande is the favorite to win the district championship, Brooks is hoping that the Cowgirls can be in the mix. However, what he is especially excited about is what the girls team may be able to accomplish at the state meet.

Laken Berlin finished second at state last year in the long jump with a leap of 17-2. Berlin is also on the sprint relay team which placed a year ago at state, and Brooks expects her to be a factor in the 300 hurdles as well.

“She’s one of a group of kids that have been working hard all winter,” Brooks said.

Joining Berlin on the relay team are Madie Bernard, Audrey Bernard, and Danielle Michael. McKenzie Zirbel, who anchored the team a year ago, has not turned out for track so far this year. However, even without her the team is experienced and fast. The team finished fifth at state a year ago with a school record time of 50.23. Michael is also expected to be a threat in both the pole vault and the hurdles for the Cowgirls.

Also expected to be a factor for the Cowgirls at the state meet are throwers Katherine Kaonis and Hannah Troutman, who placed in the shot put and javelin, respectively, a year ago. Both throwers are expected to compete in all three throwing events this year. Also looking strong in the throws are sophomore Ashton Morgan and freshman Jennifer Roth.

Troutman is also expected to be a factor for the team in the triple jump, while both Kaonis and Troutman are among the top high jumpers in the district.

Adding to the depth that the Cowgirls have in the jumps are freshmen Jennifer McCallister and Abby Smith. McCallister jumped 5-0 in the high jump in eighth grade, while Smith long jumped 14-06. In addition, transfer Chelsea Thomas is also looking strong in the jumping events.

Both Smith and Thomas are also expected to be a factor for the Cowgirls in the 400-meter run and in the 4x400-meter relay.

In the distance races the Cowgirls have Irene Morales, and Baily Tarabochia who have looked strong early in practice.

Cowboys outlook

Although the Cowboys do not appear to have the depth to threaten La Grande for the district championship they also have some outstanding athletes.

Grayson Munn leads a strong Crook County distance Core. Munn who competed at state a year ago in both the 1,500 and 3,000, is the team’s top runner at both distances, as well as in the 800.

“He is such a great competitor, I like his chances no matter who he is competing against,” Brooks said.

Joining Munn in the distance races are 800-meter runner Luis Rivera, as well as Liam Pickhardt, Nathan Carmack and freshman Emmett Baylor, who has already run 2:12 in the 800 and 53.4 in the 400.

The Cowboys should also be strong in the 400-meter run and 4x400 relay where Baylor will be joined by Michael Seyl, Jesse Santiago, Munn, Rivera, and a host of other Cowboys. Throw newcomer Tyler Berger and 300-meter hurdler Zane Abrams into the mix, and the Cowboys could place in the relay at state.

Sprinters Jesse Santiago, Michael Seyl, Clark Woodward, and possibly Berger, and the 4x100-meter relay team may be strong as well.

Seyl, Woodward, and Jesse Santiago are also expected to provide the Cowboys with depth in the long jump, while Zach Smith, Zach Flegel, A.J. Cooper, Dalton Carder provide the team with depth in the throws.

Hurdlers Abrams, Cody Thurman and Billy Mize should also provide the team with depth, while Thurman and Trayton Libolt should be strong in the pole vault.

“I’m not sure that they have the horses to make a big run,” Brooks said of the guys team. “But they’ve been working their tails off. Our guys could be good, they’ve just got some maturing to do. Just getting older, stronger, and bigger.”

Brooks added that he likes how both the boys and girls teams have been working in practice and how hard they have competed against each other.

“We have a lot more of those two- or three-sport athletes that know how to compete,” Brooks said. “We’ve been grinding them up and putting the hay in the barn and piling it high so that when the time comes everything is in the barn and we can just tear it up and let them lose.”