TRACK & FIELD: Sierra Gold shines at indoor championships | TheUnion.com

TRACK & FIELD: Sierra Gold shines at indoor championships

Far from home and faced with unforseen obstacles, the local Sierra Gold Masters Track & Field team rose above the adversity and put forth an impressive showing at the USATF Indoor National Championships in Maryland last weekend.

"As a coach all these years, I've had athletes get injured at a meet, I've had athletes get very ill and be unable to perform at a meet, and I've had athletes disqualified for something rather trivial. I've had all of that, but never in one meet." Sierra Gold coach Clyde Lehman said. "All of these things heaped on us all at once."

Despite all the adversity Sierra Gold placed 14th out of 113 teams, had four athletes win National Championships and several others earn podium finishes.

"I'm really happy and proud of this team for finishing 14th, even with all our mishaps," Lehman said. "I'm really, really proud of all these folks."

Sierra Gold members who earned National Championships include Makie Ohler, Steve Conrad, Steve Adelman and Bobby Kleman.

Ohler claimed two national titles after winning the women's (55-59 year old) 3,000-meter run as well as the 1,500m.

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The talented distance runner blew the competition away in the 3,000, notching a time of 11 minutes, 35 seconds and beating the second place competitor by more than a minute.

In the 1,500, Ohler trailed the lead runner by a slight margin for much of the race but charged past her down the stretch to claim victory by a fraction of a second. Ohler clocked a time of 5:31.10, edging second place finisher Susan Cook by .06 seconds.

"The entire stadium got behind that race," said Lehman. "It was incredible."

Ohler was also planning to run the 800m at the meet, but was scratched from the race after a declaration issue, said Lehman.

Conrad, a Sierra Gold competitor and coach, earned the National Championship in the men's (30-34) long jump. Conrad took first place with a leap of 22-feet, ¼ inch.

"Great warm up, everything was feeling good, feeling fast and explosive off the board," Conrad said of the lead up to the event. "A couple of my warm up jumps were matching distances I hit in college, so I was feeling great and my first jump was actually the one that won the event."

Each competitor is allotted six jumps in the final, Conrad would only complete three jumps though.

"On my third jump I had a misplant on my approach and fractured one of the bones in my foot. So, I broke my foot in the event I actually won and wasn't able to compete the next day. So, it was a bitter sweet victory."

Before the injury, Conrad placed fourth in the men's (30-34) 60m dash and was fifth in the 400m.

"It was a lot of fun and this year it really felt like a team," Conrad said. "We weren't just out there competing as individuals, we were really there working together as a group and cheering for each other as a group, which I think elevated our performances. The energy was great."

Adelman grabbed his National Championship in the men's (50-54) weight throw event. Like Conrad, it was Adelman's first attempt that set the standard. He threw for a distance of 17.97 meters in his first attempt and no other competitor came close.

Adelman became only the second Sierra Gold athlete to win both an Indoor and Outdoor National Championship.

Kleman, Sierra Gold's newest member, became a National Champion in the men's (70-74) long jump event with a leap of 14-feet, ¼ inch. Kleman also placed second in the triple jump, and seventh in the 60m.

Other Sierra Gold team members that earned top-five finishes include Patti Baker, Lynne Hurrell, Richard Hotchkiss, Kathy Slouber and Bob Thurman.

Baker competed in the women's 65-69 category and earned second place in the triple jump, fourth place in the long jump and fifth place in the weight throw.

Hurrell earned second place in the women's 80-84 400m event. Hurell was just 3.4 seconds behind the first place finisher.

Hotchkiss, a Sierra Gold competitor and coach, took second place in the men's 75-79 super weight throw and third in the weight throw.

Slouber tallied three top-five finishes, earning third place in the women's 65-69 weight throw, and placing fifth in both the super weight and shot put events.

Thurman also had three top-five finishes, placing second in the men's 60-64 long jump, third in the 200m and fourth in the 400m.

"I was so very proud of our entire Sierra Gold Team," Lehman said. "Nevada County can be very proud of these amazing older athletes."

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

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