MASTERS TRACK & FIELD: After a stellar 2017, Sierra Gold looks to continue success in new year | TheUnion.com

MASTERS TRACK & FIELD: After a stellar 2017, Sierra Gold looks to continue success in new year

Sierra Gold shined bright in 2017.

Members of the local masters track and field team ran, lept and threw their way to the top of the podium all year long and for their efforts earned first place as a team in the USATF Pacific Association 2017 Grand Prix.

The team also claimed first place at the USATF Pacific Association Masters Track and Field Championships, had eight athletes earn individual Grand Prix awards and currently has six members ranked No. 1 in the country in their respective events and age/gender groups.

Earning Grand Prix awards, which are based on an accumulation of points earned at different meets throughout the year, were: Inka Mims (first in middle/long distance runs), Bob Thurman (second in sprints and hurdles, second in jumps, fourth in middle/long distance), Lynne Hurrell (second in middle/long distance, fifth in sprints), Arnold Utterback (third in middle/long distance, fifth in jumps), Stephen Adelman (second in throws), Kathy Slouber (third in throws), Bob Lange (fourth in sprints and hurdles) and Makie Ohler (fifth in middle/long distance)

Sierra Gold athletes currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in their respective events include: Ohler in the women's (55-59) 5,000-meter run, Mims in the women's (55-59) 10,000-meter run, Adelman in the men's (50-54) hammer throw as well as the weight throw, Durelle Schimek in the women's (45-49) javelin, Utterback in the men's (70-74) 2,000-meter steeplechase, and Roger Parnell in the men's (65-69) long jump.

As for the key to their success: "Our coaching," Sierra Gold President Drue Mathies said. "Everybody envies us because we have coaches that are really dedicated and want us to do well."

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Sierra Gold is coached by Clyde Lehman (distance running), Dick Hotchkiss (throws) and Steve Conrad (sprints and jumps).

"When you coach wonderful people it's a joy. You're enthusiastic about every practice," said Lehman, who credited the team's success to Mathies' leadership and the dedication of the Sierra Gold athletes. "We have an incredible president in Drue. People kind of throw around the term irreplaceable, but it's true, Drue would be irreplaceable. What he does for this team, no one could duplicate. So, it's him and it's athletes that are dedicated and enthusiastic. And, enthusiasm is contagious."

With all that success and a growing team boasting more than 50 members, Lehman said Sierra Gold is, "just getting started."

Sierra Gold has several major meets on their schedule for 2018, including the Masters Indoor Championships in Landover, Maryland in March, its own Sierra Gold Meet at Nevada Union High School in June, the Masters Outdoor Championships in Spokane, Washington in July and the Masters World Championships in Spain in September.

Mathies said he's confident the team will continue to have success in competitions throughout the season and hopes more members choose to represent the team at "away" meets.

"I'd like to see the folks that haven't yet gone with us on these away trips to do so and become part of that, because it is a really good bonding thing," he said. "I would like to see the rest of the team become thrilled about going to these other events and experiencing not only the competition but different places in the world."

The ever expanding Sierra Gold team is accepting new members. For those who would like more information or to join the team contact Lehman at coachclyde1@gmail.com or by phone at 530-470-8697.

"We have All-Americans, we have nine national champions on the team, and we have world champions, but we also want beginners," Lehman said. "Everyone has to start some place and you are welcome to be part of this at any level."

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.