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Track athletes start race towards European championships

Kaiserslautern's Michael Close makes way after receiving the baton from teammate David Zaryczny Saturday, April 19, 2014, during a DODDS-Europe track and field season opener at Wiesbaden, Germany.

WIESBADEN, Germany — The weather was nearly perfect Saturday as the Wiesbaden Warriors hosted four other schools at a 2014 DODDS-Europe track and field season opener.

Athletes from Baumholder, Bitburg, Kaiserslautern, and Ramstein came here to not just kick off the new season, but to size-up the competition for the first time this year.

Kaiserslautern senior triple- and long-jumper Rhea Harris won first place in the long jump at last year's DODDS-Europe championships and although she didn't reach her marks from last year Saturday, she's confident she'll improve quickly.

"If I work hard enough I'll make my goal of beating the K-Town school record," said Harris, who's already been accepted at Hardin-Simmons University's sports program in Texas.  "It's going to take focus and extra time.”

She ended up placing first in both the long jump and triple jump with 15-foot and 32-feet-5-inch efforts, respectively.

If Saturday was truly an early snapshot of the season to come, there'll be plenty of back and forth positioning between rivals Ramstein and Wiesbaden, with Kaiserslautern doing its best to keep in the mix.

Although Saturday the boys track competition was dominated by the host Warriors, who earned 283 points — 140 more than second-place Ramstein — the Raiders have athletes capable of threatening positions held by the top two powerhouses.

Raiders' sophomore David Zaryczny, who came in seventh in the 100-meter dash, trailing Wiesbaden's CJ Pridgen by just over a second, and third in the 400, is confident he'll meet his goals this season.

"My goal is a 10.92 in the 100, a 22.6 in the 200, and a 50, or 49 in the 400," said Zaryczny, who's been in Kaiserslautern for four years.

Saturday was the first high school track competition for Bitburg freshman Francesca Gatterburg, who placed fourth in 300-meter hurdles in a time of 54.19 and contributed as part of the 1,600 sprint medley.

"The team took off nine seconds [from practice]," said Gatterburg.  Her twin sister Therese, who also competed in her first meet, was fifth in the 400.

The teams split up next Saturday as Bitburg hosts Baumholder, Black Forest Academy, Frankfurt International, and AFNORTH; Ramstein plays host to Kaiserslautern, Schweinfurt, Bamberg, and Patch; and Wiesbaden travels to Ansbach.

Brown.eric@stripes.com
 

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