The Sandy boys track squad looks to fight for title while girls bring back solid returners

by: SANDY POST: FILE PHOTO - Sandys Isaac Mitchell is one of the states elite 5A distance runners entering his senior track season.The Sandy boys’ track and field team went 6-1 in Northwest Oregon Conference meets last season, but the Pioneers think they can do better. They have their sights set on an undefeated season and district championship.

“We have a really strong group of boys who worked really hard through the winter,” Sandy coach Anouxa Vixathep said. “They are excited to get going, and they are ready.”

That solid core of athletes is led by senior Isaac Mitchell. Mitchell is coming off a cross-country district championship and a fourth-place finish at the state meet. There isn’t another runner in the conference who can match Mitchell’s pace and endurance in the longer distances.

“Isaac is fit, hungry and dedicated,” Vixathep said. “He is running extremely well right now.”

Sandy will also be competitive in the hurdle races with junior Robert Bierly leading the way. Bierly finished fifth in the hurdles at the district meet last season and has the talent to crack the top three in 2014.

Carter Knox is Sandy’s top sprinter and performed well last season as a sophomore in the short-distance runs. Knox had 12 top-four finishes in the 100, 200 and 400 meter dashes during the regular season and he secured eighth place in the 400 at districts.

Football receiver Ryan Skidmore did a little bit of everything during the track season a year ago. He ran in the 100, 200, 400 and did the high jump, but specialized in the long jump. He was 11th in the long jump at the district meet, but he could potentially win the event this season with his best jump.

Mitchell, Bierly, Knox and Skidmore will come together for the relay races and will be as tough as any other foursome in the league.

The Sandy girls claimed a fifth-place finish last season at districts, but they are low in numbers this year. Still, the Pioneers are capable of staying competitive with the girls they do have.

“The biggest goal with them is just to improve each day,” Vixathep said. “They could be back in the middle of the pack again.”

In the long-distance runs, senior Dalen Richardson will pace the Pioneers. The four-sport star finished third in the 1500 at last year’s district meet and at the district cross country meet in the fall. She should be a lock to take third again this season.

Zayna Salveter, who is stepping onto the track after a stellar swimming season, grabbed top-six finishes in the 200 and 400 at districts in 2013. She will give Sandy some balance in the shorter races, though she could also run in some longer races as well.

Raquel Pellecer played softball last spring, but the track and field team is happy to have her back this season. Pellecer will be Sandy’s top field athlete and will be in contention in most meets in multiple events.

Sandy kicks off the season on Wednesday as it hosts Liberty. The Pioneers will then hold their annual invitational meet on April 5th.

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