Culver track has another strong year at state
The Culver track and field program brought nine athletes to the 2A state meet at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, May 17-18.
Bulldogs junior Kash Michael placed second in the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 2 inches. He was bested by Cesar Sepulveda, of Jefferson (6-04). Michael also finished in seventh place in the long jump (19-10), beating teammate Cesar Orozco, who placed 12th (17-08.25).
"Kash Michael had a difficult time with the starting height at 5-10," said coach Tom Kirk. The opening height was higher than we have ever seen at this level. It was pretty tough conditions and Kash did everything he needed to, in order to place second."
Orozco and Michael both tied for first in the long jump (19-10.75) at the district meet May 10-11. Michael was also a district champion in the high jump (6-04).
Culver's district champion 4x100-meter relay team (44.62) of Zennon Rybel, Jordan VanAlstyne, Caden Engel and Orozco had a time of 45.28, placing third for the Bulldogs.
"Our 4x100 team was ready and really was as ready as they could be," said Kirk. "Even though we didn't have all the handoffs exactly how we wanted, everyone still ran hard and was a half-second away from their best time ever."
In the 200-meter dash, freshman speedster Rybel had a personal best time of 23.64 seconds, placing fifth for Culver.
"Going into state, Zennon Rybel had the 11th fastest time," Kirk said. "He ran his first heat with the seventh best time and the final heat he was the only runner to have a personal best, and came in fifth. To continually improve until the very last race is always the goal for everyone."
VanAlstyne became a district champ in the pole vault (11-07) this year and performed well at state, placing seventh with a leap of 11-06.
"Jordan VanAlstyne opened with a high start as well, which really cut the competition down," Kirk said. "You really don't have room for error starting at 10 feet."
The 4x400-meter relay team of Clayton Mathews, Rybel, VanAlstyne, and Michael placed seventh (3:38.16). Heppner claimed gold with a time of 3:30.94.
Culver's boys placed 11th, scoring 24 team points, while East Linn Christian (72), Heppner (51) and Oakland (44) placed in the top three.
On the girls' side, junior Bridget Lopez placed seventh in the 100-meter hurdles (17.86). She was bested by Kyndal Martin, of Monroe (15.18), who claimed gold.
Senior Makayla Haessler, finished in 10th place in the javelin (93-04), while junior Talyn Barry placed 10th in the shot put (29-11).
The girls scored two team points, placing 30th at the state meet.
Culver will have several returning state qualifiers next season, including Michael, Barry, Lopez, Orozco and VanAlstyne, who will all be returning for their senior seasons.
"It was a great experience at the 2A/1A track meet," Kirk said. "This was the first time I have been to a track meet like that; usually it is 3A as well. It was nice because you could really find and coach more athletes as opposed to just wishing them well and giving them a few tips. The plan was to be well-prepared and keep relaxed. We worked hard to become prepared and go out to compete as hard as we can."
"For a year that started with a foot and a half of snow, being stuck in the gym, trying to adapt, I thought it was a phenomenal year," Kirk said. "I really attribute our year to each of our event coaches. Our new assistant coach was Tyler Davenport, who really worked hard on strength and conditioning. Coach Duff worked with the throwers again, Phil Sledge worked with the pole vault and high jump kids. Rachel Bare worked with the hurdlers and our sprinting coach Ray Pokorny."
"I am so grateful for each of these coaches," he said. "Coach Tia Powell worked with our distance runners, going on runs with them around the town of Culver. With all these coaches willing to adapt and adjust, it turned into a really good season."