Spartans on track for state

" An experienced core of state meet veterans forms the nucleus of one of the largest-ever turnouts for track, giving rise to optimism that this year's team will win many of its dual meets.New head coach Andy Grimm replaces Richard Christopher.Grimm is quick to emphasize the contributions of his two paid assistants, Jim West and Dean Tarbill, plus four volunteers: Pat Logan, Sarah Dunstan, Steph Miller and Charlie Hamilton.The staff is working with more than 80 athletes.Team-wise, the girls are very strong, says Grimm. We'll score in every event.Because the unaccustomed depth is primarily comprised of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, prospects for future years are appealing as well.The top returnee is junior Rebecca Ivey, fourth in the 800 at Star Track last year. She's already run a 61-second 400 this spring, giving rise to speculation that she may become just the second state champion in school history (triple jumper Gregg Bleakney won the triple jump in 1993). Senior Melissa Borgen holds the school record in both hurdles and advanced to State last year in the 100-meter highs. Those two are joined by juniors Keri Jensen and Sarah Grue in the 4x400 meter relay, which has gone to State the last two years and has also established a school standard.Versatile junior Crisma Biggs is a quality athlete who can sprint, hurdle, long jump, and run relay legs. Sophomore Kelley Case will join Borgen and Biggs in the hurdles.Dunstan, a former Spartan runner, works with the girls' distance corps and is impressed with what she's seen.Rebecca (Ivey) has the discipline to make it (a state title) happen, and Veronica Ivey has as much promise as her sister, she says.Dunstan also likes Grue's chances. She began her Spartan career in the 400 and after a fine cross country season is moving up to the 1600 this year, with Julia Buckwalter, Christy Lubovich and Colleen Burke joining her in that event and the 3200.State meet veteran Laura Bartunek heads the field event competitors. A sophomore, she will high jump and triple jump. Junior Erin Ebert and freshman Alice Russell are the top throwers and should score substantial points in the shot, discus and javelin. Senior Charli Hamilton will pole vault.On the boys' side, senior Luke Preble was one place short at District from advancing to State last year, but he's trained hard for months and will be a force at 100, 200, and 400 meters as well as running legs on both relays.Right behind him is sophomore Tim Freeman, who'll also hurdle. He's a great athlete, Grimm says of Freeman. I can put him anywhere and he can compete. Freshman Zach Ainsley and junior Kenny Walker lead the other sprinters.The relays, especially the 4x400, are likely to be team strengths.Sophomores Michael Wauters and Joey Tarbill will run the 800, and seniors Evan Galloway and Andy Reese (who ran 4:38 and 4:39 in a practice meet last week in the 1600) head a solid distance group that includes fellow seniors Colin Kuester, Steve Gardiner, Paul Lang and Max Gordon.Senior Joey Mankes went to state last year, and will high jump and triple jump.Grimm welcomes a group of raw, big strong guys in the throws, most of them football players: freshman Matt Wauters and sophomores Andy Aversano, Jarred Hinton, Chris Pierce and Nick McCallum. Senior Aaron Blumenthal will pole vault.Though Port Angeles, with a turnout exceeding 100, remains the team to beat, many Spartan coaches feel that the girls in particular have an excellent chance of dethroning the Roughriders as league champions this year.The team has three home meets this year, double duals on April 12 (Olympic and Port Townsend) and April 20 (Central Kitsap and Port Angeles), and the sub-district meet on May 11. Essentially a dual meet against fellow 3A Sequim, sub-district sends the top three athletes in each event to the District meet the following week.The top two finishers in each event at distance advance to Star Track, May 25-26. "

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