By DAVE LEDER
News staff writer
THE DALLES — Excitement is sky high on the Hood River Valley track team after last Saturday’s performance at The Dalles Cherry Blossom Invitational.
Led by three event winners and nine runners-up, the Eagles posted 37 personal bests in just their second meet of 2005.
The main HRV standout was freshman distance runner Leo Castillo, who made up for the loss of senior teammate Alex Jimenez (stomach flu) by winning the 3,000 meters and taking second in the 1,500.
Castillo’s time of 9:15.03 in the 3,000 was a 15-second PR, while his 1,500 time of 4:13.13 was a 17-second improvement.
“Leo did awesome,” said HRV head coach Shawn Meyle, who also complimented the girls distance team on a solid performance. “With our No. 1 runner having to drop out, Leo stepped it up and did a great job.”
Leading the girls distance squad were sophomore Melissa Kauffman and freshman Ashley Braniff, who ran neck-and-neck in the 3,000 to take second and third place, respectively.
Kauffman clocked in at 11:12.52, while Braniff was right on her heels at 11:12.80. The two intra-team rivals also battled it out in the 1,500, with Kauffman taking fourth (5:07.89) and Braniff placing fifth (5:14.21).
“Our distance team is really strong from top to bottom this year,” said Kauffman, a 2004 state qualifier. “It’s good to have such strong internal competition because it makes everyone faster.”
Junior teammates Melissa Princehouse (1,500 and 800) and Janne Lucas (3,000) also posted personal bests on the day. Sophomore Kayla Lloyd would have normally run the 3,000 and 1,500 alongside Kauffman and Braniff, but she was returning from a skiing competition in Utah that day.
Junior sprinter Markee Cox had an equally strong day on the track, taking second in both the 100 meters (12.97) and 200 meters (26.75, PR). She also anchored the girls 4 x 100 relay team, which placed second with a time of 51.68 seconds. Joining Cox on the relay team were sophomore Laura Yates, freshman Kari Hidle and senior Kristen Hedges.
Hidle shined in her individual events as well, taking fifth in the 200 meters (27.37) and winning the triple jump with a personal-best effort of 32 feet, 0.75 inches.
Hedges finished second in the triple jump with a season-best jump of 31’ 4.75”, while freshman teammate Lindsey Halliday took sixth at 29’ 1.5”.
Other girls highlights on the day were junior Jessica Wienholt taking second in the high jump with a PR of 5 feet; sophomore Jacquie Mattson taking seventh in the high jump at 4’ 8”; McKenna Hering and Meghan Flink placing one-two in the pole vault with jumps of 9’ 6”; and Yates placing sixth in the 400 meters (1:04.92).
Meanwhile, the girls 4 x 400 relay team of Cox, Lloyd, Yates and Kylee Staughton earned a season-best time of 4:26.12 to take fourth place.
“We had a number of really strong performances on Saturday,” coach Meyle said. “Lots of kids improved their times and/or marks, which is good to see this early in the season. We have two home meets in a row, so hopefully we can keep getting better.”
Aside from Castillo’s memorable afternoon, additional boys team highlights were turned in by senior Adam Brown, juniors Fernando Morales and Travis Moore, sophomores Emerson Stewart and Joel Miller, and freshman Juan Zuniga.
Brown placed second in the 200 meters with a PR time of 23.60 and took seventh in the 100 at 12.05; Morales placed fourth in the 800 meters with a PR time of 2:07.86; Moore was sixth in the high jump at 5’ 4”; Stewart took fifth in the discus (128’ 7”) and seventh in the shot put (42’ 3.5”); Miller was seventh in the pole vault (11’ 6”); and Zuniga was sixth in the long jump (18’ 5.5”) and seventh in the 200 meters (24.63).
In addition to the event placers, a handful of other HRV boys earned personal bests: Junior Carlos Quintana in the 800 meters (2:15.52); junior Sal Fuentes in the 200 (25.16); senior Andrew Halliday in the 300 hurdles (49.09), junior Sal Ledezma in the shot put (37’ 9”); freshman Alex Van Slyke in the 1,500 (5:09.95); and freshman David Warren in the pole vault (9’ 6”).
Both relay teams also had strong performances, with the 4 x 100 team of Moore, Fuentes, Zuniga and Brown posting a time of 46.45. The 4 x 400 team of Brown, Quintana, Antonio Garcia and Morales took fifth overall (time NA).
Additional PR’s for the girls were turned in by Staughton in the 400 (1:05.68), Jennifer Jefferies in the 800 (2:52.19), Elizabeth Cobarrubias in the shot put (25’ 6”) and javelin (69’ 3”); Cayla Thornton in the shot put (21’ 7.75”); Linnea Lisenbee in the javelin (51’ 4”); and Ashlynn Vissers in the javelin (47’ 5.5”).
The HRV track team will host a three-way dual meet with The Dalles-Wahtonka and Crook County on Thursday at Henderson Stadium, starting at 3:30 p.m.