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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — It’s been a few years since so many record holders gathered at a Far East Track and Field Meet.

Erik Armes and Jessica Ircink of Kubasaki entered the 2013 Far East meet with records in the 1,600. But this year’s championship field boasts four athletes, with seven current records between them, competing for titles and to lower their marks.

On Thursday and Friday at Yokota’s Bonk Field, Pacific record-holders Jabari Johnson (200, 400) of Kinnick, Yokota’s Daniel Galvin (800, 1,600), Seisen’s Brittani Shappell (1,600, 3,200) and Yokota’s Christian Sonnenberg (discus) will go for titles and more records.

“Far East this year is going to be something,” Johnson said.

“There are definitely records that are going to fall this week with Jabari, Sonnenberg, Shappell, and hopefully myself,” Galvin said.

Johnson would seem to be the presumed favorite in the sprint events, including the 100, which he ran in 10.92 last year; the 200, in which he ran a Pacific-record 21.87 on May 9; and the 400, where he broke his own Pacific record with a 48.99. But he would much rather talk about team than individual achievement.

“I just want to focus on doing my best and encouraging my teammates throughout the two days of competition because track is a team sport,” Johnson said.

His coach, Luke Voth, spoke about records on Johnson’s behalf. “Jabari is capable of breaking any or all the records he’s already set,” Voth said. “He is an amazing talent, but is just as good of a teammate. It is fun to watch him prepare; he is really in a competitive mode right now.”

Galvin, meanwhile, has spent much of the season recovering from a hamstring injury but still holds records in the 800 (1:55.54) and 1,600 (4:23.42).

Kadena’s Hunter Ficenec came within a second of the 1,600 mark on May 2. And Galvin also faces challenges from American School In Japan’s distance runners, including Kanto cross country champion Evan Yukevich and Far East cross country champion Willem Thorbecke.

Galvin said that the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 races could come down to the last 100 meters.

“I think everything’s really going to come down to who has the strongest kick,” he said.

Shappell has run the 1,600 just once and the 3,200 twice, but each in Pacific record time and by wide margins. The freshman clocked a 5:08.28 in the 1,600 and 11:12.36 in the 3,200 at the Kanto finals. Her 1,600 time beat Ircink’s record by almost 15 seconds and the 3,200 time topped Kubasaki’s Crystal Sandness’ record by nearly 34 seconds.

Recently, evidence gleaned from event sheets from 1980s meets suggests the Pacific 1,600 record is actually 4:57, run by a girl only identified as “Taylor” from the old Iwakuni High School in 1977. Confirmation is still being sought, but some observers think Shappell could even beat that time. Having ASIJ’s Lisa Watanuki and Kinnick’s Arlene Avalos push her has been of great value, Seisen coach Matt Granger said.

“She’s a great talent and I believe Brittani has much lower times in her,” Granger said. “Brittani has been running really well in the interval workouts the past few weeks so it’s possible she could lower her times in both the 1,600 and 3,200.”

This year’s Far East features a couple of changes: it moved to Thursday and Friday from its customary Monday-Tuesday spot, and will start two hours later than in the past (11:30 a.m. Thursday and 12:30 p.m. Friday), so more students can come after school to watch, organizers said.

ornauer.dave@stripes.com

Twitter: @ornauer_stripes

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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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