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Athletes and coaches say they have not seen this much talent - at so many schools in so many events - at any Far East meet.

Several coaches predict that at least 19 meet records and as many as five Pacific records will be broken at the Far East High School Track and Field Meet, Monday and Tuesday at Yokota.

“The power we have in the Pacific this year is unbelievable,” said junior Andrew Kilkenny of Kadena, the reigning Far East Division I cross-country champion and one of as many as 10 expected to chase meet and Pacific records in the boys 1,600 and 3,200.

Kubasaki’s Erik Armes holds the Pacific mark of 4 minutes, 25.88 seconds. Nile C. Kinnick assistant coach Luke Voth, who coached three seasons in Oklahoma before coming overseas, says that record may be one of several that go by the boards.

“I’ve never seen four or five athletes, maybe more, who will go under 4:30. And every event is that way,” Voth said. “Throws, jumps, sprints, distance; they’re all competitive. It’s overwhelming, how athletic everybody is this year. Everybody has to be in the best of shape and be ready for it.”

The meet will be held at Yokota High School’s Bonk Field for the second straight year.

Fourteen schools will send athletes to the meet, with 28 events in play.

The meet itself is a big reason for the record-book drive, Kilkenny said. Kubasaki’s Jessica Ircink broke the Pacific’s girls 1,600 with 5:23.26 in the Okinawa district meet, one of several big meets leading up to the biggest event.

“It definitely plays a large role,” Kilkenny said. “Athletes get ready for one specific event, one tangible goal, one tangible meet to prove themselves as star athletes in the Pacific.”

Sprint races will feature the likes of Kubasaki’s Jarrett Mitchell, Kaelyn Francis and Rahman Farnell, Kadena’s Janika Caines, Val James of Kinnick and Zion Christian Academy’s Jade Cummings.

Hurdles will showcase Kadena’s Derrick Taylor and Pashence Turner, Kubasaki’s Danielle Balfour and Zama American’s Mitchell Harrison.

Field events feature Yokota’s Dylan Kessler and Jesse Hogan, Zama’s Niyah Lewis, Kadena’s Jasmine Rhodes and American School In Japan’s Liz Thornton.

But most eyes are on the distance events, particularly a Kubasaki group featuring 1,600 specialists Ircink and Armes, Ryan Bugler in the 800 and Allie Reichenberg in the 3,200. They’ll be challenged by Yokota’s Daniel Galvin, Kadena’s Kilkenny, Ana Hernandez, Alysa and Rachel Burchill and Carlos Gutierrez and Seoul American’s Ryan Parker.

“I’ve never had four athletes on the same team in one season all set to beat Pacific records,” Kubasaki distance coach Paul Campbell said. “It’s ridiculous. Four in the same season. It’s remarkable.”

“It’s going to be amazing,” Ircink said. “There’s good competition at every school. I’m excited.”

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.
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