Triple jump added to Far East track and field lineup
By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 18, 2021
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – It’s been a couple of years since Grace Carey last did the triple jump at Randolph High School in Texas.
But the Kadena junior says she’s glad that DODEA-Pacific has added it to its track and field lineup for the upcoming season. It will debut this weekend: Friday at Kubasaki and Saturday at Kadena and Humphreys.
Adding triple jump is another step in bringing DODEA-Pacific’s track and field program in line with schools in the U.S. and in DODEA-Europe, DODEA-Pacific’s athletics coordinator Tom McKinney said.
“They do it in Europe, they do it in the States. It gives the athletes the opportunity to do another event,” McKinney said.
Carey’s coach, Doyle Robertson, says he’s been lobbying for the event to be added for five years.
“It’s smart,” Robertson said, adding that it helps make athletes more rounded. “We had 12 running events and only four field events before this. Now, we have a fifth field event.”
Though the events might seem similar, Carey said there are some subtle differences: “It takes a little feel for the steps; there’s a whole different rhythm to it.”
Of the 12 DODEA high schools in the Pacific, only Guam High has competed in the event. The boys Pacific record is 13.85 meters (45 feet, 5 inches) set by Guam’s David Wilson in 1985 and the girls mark is 11.05 (36-3) in 2007 by Amelia Clark of Jakarta International.
Most schools will be competing on their own during the season, with the current exception of South Korea. The season will end with a virtual Far East meet April 30-May 1 - before the annual two-week Advanced Placement testing period.
Track is currently the only spring sport scheduled to end with a Far East championship.
Unlike the last 10 years, athletes will not have to qualify; three athletes per school per event will be eligible, meet organizer Tim Pujol said.
“With no travel and therefore no expense, we have no reason to limit the overall number of participants,” Pujol said in an email to athletics directors.
But athletes are still limited to four total events and schools may only enter one team in relay events.
Sophomore and Division I cross country champion Karise Johnson headlines what could be the strongest Panthers distance lineup in a decade. Another cross country veteran, senior Beau Black, is trying his hand at relays and the 400.
Senior Caleb Wise has claimed Kadena’s top throwing spots. Senior Tiare Schmid and juniors Kevonte Speight and Trent Fowler headline the boys sprint corps, with Speight also running 300 hurdles.
Kubasaki is young, but has a strong senior relay group of Arena and Nai’a Current and Natalia Sanchez.
Dragons senior Arthur Parra missed the last two cross country meets with an undisclosed medical condition, but is back and heads the Dragons’ distance corps. “I’m grateful to have this opportunity and see how I bounce back from cross country,” Parra said.
Daegu has a strong sprint corps of senior Alyssa Cline, juniors Kayla Randall and Steven Jones and freshman Anthony Torrance; the latter two will also do long jump. Junior Kalean Book comes over from cross country to run distance races.
Senior sprinters Chasity Johnson, Freedom Cody and Deontaye Gregory return for defending DI champion Humphreys, as do senior distance runner Hannah Rickett and junior hurdler Alaina Areniego. Sprinter Darnell Wilks transfers from North Carolina. Junior Jewlya Arrington and senior Jayden Brinkerhoff will do throws.
Osan has four seniors: thrower Gregory Lunn and sprinters Kadena McGinnis, Layla Barker and Xavier Nevarez, plus junior distance runners Connor Floyd and Zsa Zsa Le Blanc and thrower Ingrid Pele. Sophomore Parker Hendrickson could do big things in distance races.
Reigning Far East Division II school champion Yokota has the past two D-II cross country champions, junior Aiko Galvin and sophomore Reagan Cheramie, but the numbers are thin, coach Dan Galvin said. “Two or three sprinters in each gender, a couple of decent throwers and our cross country team,” he said.
Junior Morgan Erler took second behind Cheramie in Far East cross country and is the headline distance runner for Robert D. Edgren. Freshman Tyler Gaines, the boys Far East D-II winner, does likewise for E.J. King.
Sophomore Gabriel Escalera took third in the Far East D-II boys cross country and joins the Zama distance crew. Junior Keshawn McNeill, the reigning Far East D-II high-jump champion, returns as does senior Grace Bryant, who won discus at Far East in 2019.
Nile C. Kinnick is hindered by not having a track of its own, though McKinney says DODEA is “working on that.”
For the moment, the Red Devils work out where they can, coach Luke Voth says, with senior sprinters Jacob Vitug and Kimaya Fletcher, junior sprinters Samantha Crisci and John Moon and junior distance runner Austin Shinzato returning.