By ADAM LAPIERRE
News staff writer
March 25, 2006
Packing a full team of high school boys and girls into a school bus, two and three to a seat, for a three-hour ride each way, might sound like a stressful way to spend a Thursday.
But things could be worse for the coaches of this year’s Hood River Valley track team.
With four state qualifiers, 13 district placers and a total of about 100 athletes this season, the Eagles’ team is gearing up for what could be its most winning spring in several years.
The girls’ squad is stacked with talent. All four of the team’s state qualifiers, and 11 returning district placers, are girls. Seniors Mckenna Hering and Markee Cox, Junior Melissa Kauffman and sophomore Kari Hidle expected to draw from last May’s state experience and stand out early as top meet competitors.
Hering last season won the district pole-vault title, finished second in the district high jump event and at finished sixth at state in her district champion event. Three-time state qualifier, Cox, took fourth at districts in both the 100 and 200 meter runs last season, and she will be one to watch in the sprints and relays this year. Kauffman, also a two-time state-qualifying cross country qualifier, looks to be a tough distance runner for the Eagles, as she finished third last season at districts in the 3,000 meter and fourth in the 1,500. And Hidle returns as the district runner up in the triple jump and a district placer in the 100 and 200 meter races. Her fourth place triple jump finish last May at state was enough to set the HRVHS school record for the event at 35 feet 3 inches.
Other girls’ team district placers include Kayla Lloyd (3rd-1500, 5th-800), Ashley Braniff (4th-3000, 5th-1500), Laura Yates (8th-400), Justine Campbell (7th-300IH), Jessica Weinholt (4th-high jump), Jacquie Mattson (6th-high jump), Lindsey Halliday (6th-triple jump) and Alisandra Denton (7th-polevault).
Although young and less experienced, the boys’ team of 47 is improving fast and shaping up to give the rest of the conference a run for its money. Returning district placers are Leo Castillo, who took fifth in the 3,000 and 6th in the 1,500, and Joel Miller, who finished sixth in the pole vault. Expect surprises from the boys’ team this season because it has several standout multi-sport athletes who are in shape and ready for action after finishing their winter sports seasons.
“We’re expecting this year to be really good for us,” said head coach Shawn Meyle. “I think it’s a PR as far as numbers and we have a lot of talented kids.”
The team traveled to east Thursday morning for the first meet of the season, the Pendleton Ice Breaker, where athletes will work out their kinks and set benchmarks to beat for the rest of the season (see the March 29 issue for results). On April 5 the Eagles host Centennial and St. Mary’s in their first of only two home meets this season.