Two records shattered in Petty track meet
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — LaKesa McClain had set a goal of throwing the discus 100 feet. The Kubasaki freshman could hardly believe what she was seeing when one of her preliminary tries broke a Japan record.
On Friday in the 5th Alva W. “Mike” Petty Memorial Track and Field meet, McClain’s throw of 115 feet, 7 inches demolished the Petty record of 99-5 set by Ashley Muller of Taiwan’s Morrison Christian Academy in 2005.
In meters, McClain’s throw was 35.03, better than the previous Japan-area record of 34.41 set by Yokota’s Debbie Dunham in 1995 (results in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools are registered in meters).
“Ecstatic!” McClain, a transfer from San Diego, shouted after learning of her distance. “That’s really cool. That’s like, wow. To know that I’ve beaten the best from schools from all over, that’s pretty cool.”
Her throw traveled so far that meet officials had to get a longer tape to accurately measure it.
“She threw it well, perfect form,” meet official Al Schulz said. “It just kept going and going and going, and when it finally went over my head, I knew that thing was gone. When we measured it, we kept walking and walking, and next thing I knew, it (tape) popped out of my hand.”
McClain and her brother, Lawrence, a junior, transferred to Okinawa last summer from San Diego, where they competed for Alexander’s Lightning Express, a track and field club.
“In the States, track and field is a big deal,” said Lawrence, who won the boys shot put with a toss of 38 feet, 11 inches. “We carried that attitude over here, to show the folks on Okinawa how we do it in the States.”
“She’s only a freshman, and she just got here,” Kubasaki coach Charles Burns said. “She’ll be around for a very long time.”
LaKesa McClain wasn’t the only athlete to destroy a Petty record on Friday. Manuel Duran of Kadena went 21 feet, 13/4 inches in the long jump, bettering his mark of 20-2 set last year.
“I was nervous” going into Friday’s competition, Duran, a senior, said. “Nothing comes easily. All I knew was I had to make my first jump good. I feel decent.”
Two other records were threatened in the six finals contested on Friday.
“[There are] medals on the line, and you’re seeing competition that you haven’t seen before,” Burns said. “It brings out the best in you.”
Coming within a whisker of Petty records were Kubasaki senior high-jumper Kyera Tennyson and sophomore 3,200-meter runner Matt Coon, the reigning Far East cross-country individual champion.
Tennyson edged Tashia Hardeman of Faith Academy of the Philippines for the long-jump title, leaping 5 feet. Hardeman cleared 4-11 but missed three tries at 5 feet. Tennyson, who holds the Petty record at 5-0½, failed on three attempts at 5-1.
“It was much colder” than last year, Tennyson said. “Your muscles tighten and you’re shaking the whole time, especially against such a good competitor” as Hardeman.
In the boys 3,200, Coon battled the first five laps with Anthony Tillman of Kadena, Christopher Magtoto of John F. Kennedy of Guam and John Lohr, a Seoul American student running for a Korea combined team.
Lohr, recovering from mononucleosis, charged in front on the sixth lap and appeared in command of the race until Coon kicked on the final lap, passing Lohr with about 200 meters left.
Coon’s time of 10 minutes, 21.47 seconds edged Lohr (10:23.84) and Tillman (10:25.49) and was 1.47 seconds shy of the meet mark of 10:20 set by St. Mary’s International’s Eric Shimoda in 2004.
Coon had “no doubt,” he said, about catching Lohr in the stretch. “Our coaches (teach us to) just do our best to go home, just ride it home.”
“I looked back and didn’t see anybody, and all of a sudden, he (Coon) was there,” Lohr said.
Also closing late to win the girls 3,200 was Izumi Kershaw of Seisen International, clocking in at 12:20.04, less than a second in front of Nako Nakatsuka of International School of the Sacred Heart, who led all but the final few hundred meters. Julie Monti of Kubasaki, unbeaten until Petty, finished fourth.