Grand feats highlight Day 1 of Petty track meet
Give Kyera Tennyson a challenge and she’ll rise to it — literally.
The Kubasaki junior proved that Friday, dethroning two-time defending champion Sylvia Janska in the girls high jump. Tennyson leapt 5 feet, 1 inch to win the event ahead of her Seisen International of Tokyo counterpart on the first of two days in the 4th Dr. Alva W. “Mike” Petty Memorial Track and Field Meet at Mike Petty Stadium, Camp Foster, Okinawa.
“I love the challenge,” said Tennyson, the island record-holder at 5-5 who transferred to Kubasaki last spring from Camp Lejeune, N.C., where she jumped 5-2 as a freshman. “I work better under pressure. And I like going up against people I haven’t seen before.”
Tennyson’s record-tying effort was one of several stellar performances in the Petty, which featured 13 teams — the highest total in the meet’s history — from Taiwan, the Philippines, Guam, Okinawa and Japan.
All told, five records fell and one was tied — Tennyson equaled Janska’s mark — on the first day of competition in which seven field events plus the 3,200-meter final and qualifying in middle-distance and short sprints were held. (See complete results below.)
Perhaps the most surprising record came in the boys 3,200. Zach Griffin of the American School In Japan and Tim Nabonne of Kadena went at it, hammer and tongs. Nabonne led early, only to have Griffin come back and make a race of it on the seventh lap.
But on the ninth lap, Nabonne chugged toward the finish line and pulled up as the bell sounded. However, the bell indicates the start of the final lap. Griffin passed him and Nabonne briefly threw up his hands before resuming the race. But by then, it was too late.
“I thought we were done,” Nabonne said after suffering his only defeat of the season. “I had it going. I thought I’d counted eight (laps). I was in my zone. I thought I had eight, then the bell rang and I started again but I’d lost my pace. I wasn’t fast enough.”
Griffin crossed the line in 10 minutes, 8 seconds, obliterating the meet record of 10:20 set in 2004. Despite stopping and losing up to 10 seconds, Nabonne still managed a 10:18, two seconds better than the old meet record and 14 better than his personal best.
But it was small consolation.
“Somebody beat me,” said Nabonne, the two-time Far East cross-country meet runner-up who vowed to do better in Saturday’s 1,600 and 800 races. “You can be sure of that,” he said.
In the girls high jump, Tennyson and Janska outdistanced the rest of the field, then went head-to-head, matching each other at 5 feet. Each missed on her first attempt at 5-1, then Tennyson made it on her second try, while Janska barely missed on the next two. Trying to tie her personal best and island record, Tennyson then failed to clear 5-4 on three attempts.
Tennyson, who’ll remain at Kubasaki until she graduates next spring, says she hopes to reach 5-8 before the end of this season and has set 5-10 as a goal for next year. And, she said, she plans to beat Janska again in May’s Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools meet in Tokyo, where Kubasaki will compete as a non-scoring guest.
“I can’t wait to go to Kanto Plain,” she said. “More people.”
Also setting a meet record was Manuel Duran of Kadena, who shook off a slight concussion suffered in Monday’s practice to long-jump 20 feet, 21/4 inches — 1 inch better than Chris Chism of Zion Christian Academy and Brian Davis of Kubasaki.
“This one was harder,” he said. “I could have done better. Nice new faces we had. They surprised me at what they can do.”
One familiar face in the Petty meet, Ashley Muller of Taiwan’s Morrison Christian Academy Mustangs, beat her own discus record at 99 feet, 5 inches, breaking her 2005 mark of 95 feet.
Teammate James Grandi set a boys shot put mark at 45-6, breaking teammate James Gardner’s 2005 mark of 45 feet.
Another Mustang, Andrew Bettinger, crushed the boys discus record, throwing it 135 feet, 2 inches, almost 7 feet better than the old mark set by Kadena’s Marquis Newton in 2005.
While Newton came up short in the shot put, finishing third in both events, he did capture the high jump at 6-2, edging Kubasaki’s Steven Thompson by one inch.
“Every time, it comes down to me and him,” Newton said of the rivalry with Thompson. “It makes me want to do my best. It’s always been me and him since last year.”
Newton felt the outsiders’ presence made things more difficult for him but also fired him up more.
“When we compete with people we see every week, we know what to expect,” Newton said. “But when you compete with these people. … There’s a little anxiety, a little nervousness, knowing I have to come out here and prove myself.”
Though not setting a record, Beth Nielsen of Kubasaki repeated as the girls, 3,200-meter champion, shaving 30 seconds off her time last year in crossing the finish line in 12:20. Her twin sister, Lisa, checked in third in 12:33.
The Petty Meet is named for Okinawa track and field’s founding father and former Kubasaki athletic director Mike Petty, who died of cancer in 1992. The meet was to conclude Saturday with the girls’ long jump and sprint, hurdle and long-distance running events for boys and girls.
Boys individual results3,200: 1, Zach Griffin, American School In Japan, 10 minutes, 8 seconds (meet record); 2, Tim Nabonne, Kadena, 10:18.
Shot put: 1, James Grandi, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 45 feet, 6 inches (meet record); 2, Andrew Bettinger, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 42-10; 3, Marquis Newton, Kadena, Okinawa, 41-4; 4, James Gardner, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 40-7; 5, Jerrell Scrivens, Kadena, Okinawa, 39-7; 6, Garrett Smith, Kubasaki, Okinawa, 38-0½.
Discus: 1, Andrew Bettinger, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 135-6 (meet record); 2, Eric Robinson, Kadena, Okinawa, 129-3; 3, Marquis Newton, Kadena, Okinawa, 125-7; 4, James Grandi, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 122-6; 5, Thomas Aguon, George Washington, Guam, 111-3; 6, Jerrell Scrivens, Kadena, Okinawa, 110-10.
High jump: 1, Marquis Newton, Kadena, Okinawa, 6-2; 2, Steven Thompson, Kubasaki, Okinawa, 6-1; 3, Elliot Tan, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 5-10; 4 (tie), Robert Neckelius, American School In Japan, and Daniel Whitcomb, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 5-6.
Long jump: 1, Manuel Duran, Kadena, Okinawa, 20-2¼ (meet record); 2, Chris Chism, Zion Christian Academy, Okinawa, 20-1¼ (fewer attempts); 3, Brian Davis, Kubasaki, Okinawa, 20-1¼; 4, Robert Neckelius, American School In Japan, 19-1 3/4; 5, Michael Withers, American School In Japan, 19-0 3/4; 6, Elliott Tan, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 18-7½.
Girls individual results3,200: 1, Beth Nielsen, Kubasaki, Okinawa, 12 minutes, 20 seconds; 2, Leana Peters, George Washington, Guam, 12:27; 3, Lisa Nielsen, Kubasaki, Okinawa, 12:33.
Shot put: 1, Kamara Conway, Kubasaki, Okinawa, 30 feet, 4 inches; 2, Genie Gerardo, John F. Kennedy, Guam, 28-9; 3, Ashley Muller, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 28-0; 4, Rachel Schulz, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 27-8; 5, Vicky Chang, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 27-0; 6, Alecia Wallingford, International School of the Sacred Heart, Japan, 25-0.
Discus: 1, Ashley Muller, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 99-5 (meet record); 2, Genie Gerardo, John F. Kennedy, Guam, 85-9; 3, Alecia Wallingford, International School of the Sacred Heart, Japan, 84-0; 4, Rachel Schulz, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 82-7; 5, Naomi Uy, Simon Sanchez, Guam, 71-9; 6, Hannah Wassell, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 68-6.
High jump: 1, Kyera Tennyson, Kubasaki, Okinawa, 5-1 (ties meet record); 2, Sylvia Janska, Seisen International, Japan, 5-0; 3, Diamond Rorie, Kadena, Okinawa, 4-8; 4, Ashley Muller, Morrison Christian Academy, Taiwan, 4-6.