Bear River sophomore breaks school record, takes first in four events
Keeping the Bruins out front on the dirt track this season is the speed and hops of sophomore Kendal Nielsen and the strong-closing kick of junior distance runner Breanne Mitchell.
Nielsen won the 100-meter dash, the 200, the long jump and set a new school record in the triple jump of 37 feet, shattering her old mark of 36 feet, 1 inch set earlier this season in the first Pioneer Valley League meet at El Dorado.
Nielsen has blistered opponents right out of the blocks this season, taking first in all four of her events in all but one meet.
“She may be the best athlete in the section,” said Bear River coach Chris Davis. “Her triple (jump) distance is the best (in the Sac-Joaquin Section).”
While she was at the freshman/sophomore meet at Calaveras High School on March 19, she competed in the 100, 200, long and triple jumps, setting new meet record in all four events.
“I’ve made a lot of progress in the triple and my sprints are improving,” said Nielsen, who carries a 4.0 grade point average and also plays volleyball. “I train six days per week, sometimes on jump technique, sometimes long sprints and other days on blocks and starts.”
Mitchell did not run a personal best in the mile Wednesday afternoon, but her time of 5 minutes and 24 seconds was good for first place.
“I was not wearing my spikes,” said Mitchell, whose personal best is 5:31. “I want the school record in the mile as well as the two mile.”
Mitchell followed the one-mile win up with a time of 12:11 in her two-mile victory.
Bear River senior Shelby Junger said she set aside swimming and gymnastics to join the track team in her junior season, and it has turned out to be a win-win for both her and the team.
“I wanted to try something new,” Junger said. “It was amazing (the decision to join the track team), I get nice and tan out here.”
She won the pole vault with a jump of 7-feet, 4-inches, before also winning the 300-meter hurdles. Junger finished second in the high jump and the triple jump.
“She brings a great attitude and high standards,” Davis said. “She loves to pole vault, but if you ask her to do something, she will do it.”
Bear River’s boys are led by a three-sport athlete in sophomore C.J. Olsen, who finished second in the 400 with a time of 55.91, one second off his personal best. He also took second in the 300 hurdles.
“The 400 is my best event,” said Olsen, who also played basketball and soccer for the Bruins. “I’m hoping to break the school record of 51.4.”
Olsen also competes in the 1,60-meter relay and cleared 5 feet in the high jump against Lincoln. He said he would have done better had he not just finished the 400 prior to his jump.
“He is a talented athlete who trains hard and is a good high jumper,” Davis said. “I wish I had him for cross country.”
Bear River won the girls 400-meter relay, as the baton went from Jessica Marso to Carly Corippo to Breanne Gatto and then to anchor Willa Davis, who crossed the finish line in 54.34 seconds, good for the team’s first points and the lead.
Final results were not available at press time.
Bear River is idle in PVL action until an April 14 meet against Colfax.
Next up for Nielsen is the Stanford Invitational on Saturday, as the only Bruin to qualify for the meet.
“Kendal is on the next level,” Davis said. “It’s hard to qualify.”
Scott P. Hopper is a sports writer for The Union. Contact him via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 477-4231.
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