At 5 feet, 5 inches, stout and muscular, Shariff Coleman hardly looks like a prototypically lean and lanky long jumper.
But on Friday, the Kadena sophomore eclipsed the Mike Petty Memorial meet record of 6.45 meters. Coleman jumped 6.47, or 21 feet, 2 inches, to shatter the mark set two years ago by Kadena’s Manuel Duran.
"We’ve been waiting for the right moment" to debut Coleman, Panthers coach Sergio Mendoza said. He added that Coleman has jumped longer than that in practice.
Mendoza called Coleman’s feat a "taste" of things to come. "He’s part of a group that has a voracious appetite for practice," Mendoza said. "I’ve never had a group like this that keeps saying ‘Give me more.’"
Coleman, who says he’s been running since he was 6, said he approaches the long jump "trying to jump over Shaq and dunk," referring to NBA star center Shaquille O’Neal.
"I think 24 [feet] is possible for me," he said. "I’m only a sophomore. I’m going to work hard to get it."
Coleman’s performance was one of two record breakers on Day 1 of the 7th Petty meet, featuring more than 300 runners from 16 schools under a cloudy, at times rainy, sky.
Sarah Wilson of Zion Christian Academy shattered her mark in the girls 400, clocking 1 minute, 1.07 seconds in qualifying for Saturday’s final. She ran the distance in 1:02.18 last year. Gwen Thornton of American School In Japan also beat the old mark, with a 1:01.23.
"She did a good job, and it’s going to be a great showdown" in Saturday’s final, Zion coach Keefe Wilson said.
Seoul Track Club enjoyed a fine Friday, capturing four gold medals. Josh Ecker won the two-mile in 10:11.5, handing Kadena’s Jacob Bishop, third in 10:20.38, his first loss of the season.
Ecker credited his coaching staff and teammate Sean Kincaid running off his shoulder most of the way for the victory. "Sean is a great runner. He’s always there with me," Ecker said.
Asked if he could make it a mile and two-mile sweep on Saturday, Ecker said: "I’m hoping for it, but I’m not taking anything for granted."
Kristy Taylor edged Morrison Christian Academy’s Megan Dwight, 4.83 to 4.79 meters, for the girls long-jump title and just missed against Zion’s Kelly Colbert, 1.52-1.50, in the high jump.
STC’s Mark Lieberg, who holds the Petty shot put record, failed to match that distance (14.79) but won the gold in 13.83 and also the discus in 39.64.
"I just want to break records," the disappointed Lieberg said, adding that he’ll point toward next month’s Kanto Invitational in Tokyo. "I just have to train harder than I’ve ever trained."
Other winners were host Kubasaki’s Retsel Alvarez in the girls shot put (9.60), Morrison’s Rachel Schulz in the girls discus (29.766), and ASIJ’s Jennifer Stolle in the girls two mile (12:25.99).
In qualifying, Stolle was three tenths of a second off the 6-year-old girls 800 mark of 2:29.7; the mark was set by ASIJ’s Lindsay Rutter.
Quallio skips Petty meet for family vacation in Australia
The big question buzzing around Mike Petty Stadium on Friday was, "Where’s Andrew Quallio?"
The Zama American senior All-American and Petty mile and two-mile record holder was vacationing in Australia with his family, Trojans coach Mitch Moellendick said.
Quallio has accepted an appointment to the Air Force Academy and must report in June, right after graduation; thus, Quallio opted to take the vacation when he could. Moellendick said Quallio would be at the Kanto Invitational next month in Tokyo.
Osan girls wrap up first sweep of Seoul American
In the school’s 14-year history, never before Friday had Osan American’s girls soccer team swept a Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference season series from Seoul American.
Bria Pressley scored her 14th and 15th goals and Jasmine Pressley added her ninth goal and two assists as the Cougars blanked the Falcons 4-0 at Seoul American’s Falcon Field on Yongsan Garrison’s South Post. The Cougars had beaten the Falcons 4-2 at Osan Air Base on March 7.
"It feels good. Doing anything for the first time is always exciting," said coach Sung Plourde, adding that midfielder Celine Baldevia, out most of the season, saw limited action, "so that’s a good sign. Hopefully, with the one-week break, everybody will come back healthy."