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Joel Pettigrew of Nile C. Kinnick in Japan competes in the shot put at the 3rd Alva W. "Mike" Petty track and field meet Friday at Camp Foster, Okinawa. Pettigrew finished third with a heave of 40 feet, 7½ inches.

Joel Pettigrew of Nile C. Kinnick in Japan competes in the shot put at the 3rd Alva W. "Mike" Petty track and field meet Friday at Camp Foster, Okinawa. Pettigrew finished third with a heave of 40 feet, 7½ inches. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Records fell like dominos, with four meet marks surpassed on Friday, the first day of the third Alva W. “Mike” Petty Memorial Track and Field Meet, the first major prep track event of the season.

Ten schools were participating in the two-day Pacificwide competition.

Records were broken in the boys’ shot put, long jump and discus and the girls’ discus.

Even the preliminary running events weren’t safe. Though records can only be set in the Petty finals, two sophomore 100-meter sprinters posted times faster than the meet record.

“Wow!” Kubasaki’s Tony Price exclaimed after running the 100 in 11.06 seconds, the best boys 100 time in the region this season.

Price had finished second to archrival David McCowan of Kadena in the previous two Okinawa meets. This time, Price beat McCowan by .37 seconds in qualifying for Saturday’s final.

Price listed “good skills, athletic ability, being focused” as among the reasons for his season-best time.

Perhaps also, he said, the presence of athletes other than those from Kadena and Zion Christian Academy helped amp up his performance and that of others.

“The international scale of competition seems to bring out the best in an athlete,” Price said.

The weather, partly cloudy with the temperature in the mid-70s, didn’t hurt, either.

“We have great weather for running,” Kubasaki coach Charles Burns said. “This is perfect weather for track and field.”

The conditions seemed very agreeable with James Gardner of Morrison Christian Academy in Taiwan, who broke his boys shot put record of 43 feet, 5 inches, with a heave of 45-¾.

Sebastian Krutkowski of Tokyo’s St. Mary’s International led four athletes who topped the boys long jump mark of 18-8½; he bettered that by 10 inches.

Eric Robinson of Kadena was next, topping the discus record of 124-10 by 11 inches. Ashley Muller of Morrison put the shot 95 feet to beat the 2-year-old mark of 93-8¼.

In the girls 100 preliminaries, Brittany Pafford of Morrison, second a year ago, bettered her previous personal best time of 13.25 by .44 seconds, breaking the old mark of 12.89 by eight-hundredths of a second.

“The experience alone, coming to a meet where everything is up in the air” contributes to the record setting, coach Matt Martinez of Japan’s Nile C. Kinnick said.

Meeting schools and athletes for the first time “forces you into a situation that is not predetermined” by always facing the same people in league competition week in and week out, Martinez said.

“Getting out of Kanto and meeting new people is really great,” Kinnick shot-putter and discus-thrower Joel Pettigrew said. “You get used to seeing the same people every week. Here, it’s new people, a change of scenery, it’s really nice.”

“I wish we could do this more often,” shot-putter and mid-distance runner Grady Pennell of Kadena said. “Every time I do this, you meet new people and make new friends.”

“As an athlete, you can’t help but get better,” Martinez said. “You have to bring everything you have to a meet.”

The meet’s format, with preliminary running events on Friday and finals on Saturday, gives those who qualify for medals a chance to “fix the little things,” Martinez said.

“That makes their races so much better the second day. You want those finals to be ones where videotape decides. Those races are hard to come by.”

Proof of that came in the 3,200-meter runs. Thought to be done after the transfer to Utah this winter of Crystal and Candace Sandness, who placed 1-2 last year for Kubasaki, the Dragons instead enjoyed a 1-2-3 sweep thanks to twins Beth and Lisa Nielsen.

The Nielsen twins took the top two spots, Beth in 12 minutes, 50 seconds and Lisa in 13:11. They were followed by track newcomer Katie Trent, who finished two seconds behind Lisa Nielsen.

“A pair of twins leaves, another pair steps in," Burns said, who noted that the Nielsens have cut some 2½ minutes off last year’s times.

“They were our last runners” last season, Burns said. “They trained hard over the summer, and they’ve stepped up so much over what they did last year.”

The Petty meet, named for Okinawa track and field’s founding father and former Kubasaki athletic director Mike Petty, who died of cancer in 1992, was to conclude Saturday with the boys high jump and sprint, hurdle and long-distance running events for boys and girls.

3rd Dr. Alva W. "Mike" Petty Memorial Meet

Friday, April 8-Saturday, April 9 at Mike Petty Stadium, Kubasaki High School, Okinawa

Friday's boys individual results

3,200: 1, J.M. Kwak, St. Mary's International, 11 minutes, 4.1 seconds; 2, Alex Hudak, St. Mary's, 11:06.5; 3, Joey Langley, St. Mary's, 11:11.8; 4, Matthew Duncan, Nile C. Kinnick, 11:21.0; 5, Chris Chism, Zion Christian Academy, 11:41.1; 6, Tom Whitson, St. Mary's, 11:48.4.

Shot put: 1, James Gardner, Morrison Christian Academy, 45-0¾ (meet record); 2, James Grandi, Morrison, 43-4; 3, Joel Pettigrew, Nile C. Kinnick, 40-7½; 4, Pavel Kachailov, St. Mary's, 39-2¾; 5, Marquis Newton, Kadena, 38-6½; 6, Jun Dambara, St. Mary's, 38-0½.

Long jump: 1, Sebastian Krutkowski, St. Mary's, 19-6½ (meet record); 2, Trygve Kittelson, Morrison, 19-4; 3, Chris Chism, Zion, 19-3; 4, Brian Davis, Kubasaki, 18-9¾; 5, Jacob Love, Kadena, 18-8½; 6, David Wilkins, Kadena, 18-4½.

Discus: 1, Eric Robinson, Kadena, 125-11 (meet record); 2, Jun Dambara, St. Mary's, 120-6½; 3, J. Scrivens, Kadena, 108-10; 4, James Grandi, Morrison, 106-11; 5, Marquis Newton, Kadena, 106-3½; 6, Joel Pettigrew, Kinnick, 103-11.

Friday's girls individual results

3,200: 1, Beth Nielsen, Kubasaki, 12 minutes, 50.7 seconds; 2, Lisa Nielsen, Kubasaki, 13:11.2; 3, Katie Trent, Kubasaki, 13:13.2; 4, Nako Nakatsuka, International School of the Sacred Heart, 13:25.0; 5, Mika Yokoyama, Seisen International, 13:57.1; 6, Carl'Meisha Wourman, Nile C. Kinnick, 14:00.4.

Shot put: 1, Pinkey McBride, Kubasaki, 30 feet, 6 inches; 2, Vicky Chang, Morrison Christian Academy, 27-11½; 3, Keisha Bowie, Zion Christian Academy, 27-11¼; 4, Tigra Bowie, Zion Christian Academy, 27-11; 5, Leyna Arbour, Sacred Heart, 26-5½; 6, Ashley Muller, Morrison Christian Academy, 25-11.

Long jump: 1, Sylvia Janska, Seisen International, 15 feet, 3½ inches; 2, Alana McKinlay, Morrison Christian Academy, 15-2; 3, Teresa Molina, Seisen Internationa, 14-11; 4, Sherlissa Dukes, Kadena, 14-7½; 5, Keesha Wilson, Zion Christian Academy, 14-3½; 6, Yuri Koshibe, Seisen International, 14-1.

Discus: 1, Ashley Muller, Morrison Christian Academy, 95 feet; 2, Brandy Gickman, Morrison Christian Academy, 92-6; 3, C. Carlson, Kadena, 91-8; 4, Anna Kullberg, Christian Academy In Japan, 85-6½; 5, Alecia Wallingford, Sacred Heart, 83-9½; 6, Chelsea Jenkins, Kadena, 75-3.

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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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