Bruins looking to rewrite school record book
Attention all former Bear River track athletes: you better get a good look at the school records you worked so hard to set, because if this season is anything like last spring – no mark or time is safe, as the Bruins return the majority of their 2004 recording-setting squad.
Last season, the boys and girls track teams set 10 new school records. In addition to rewriting the Bruin history books, the girls team went undefeated during the league schedule and tied with Oakmont to win the Pioneer Valley League Meet Championship.
First-year head coach Barbara Frank expects to see her girls squad do some serious damage again this year, while the boys will duke it out with Colfax and Oakmont for the PVL’s top spot.
The girls team is led by senior field event guru Jessica Benzler, who competes in the high jump and pole vault in addition to throwing the shot put and the discus.
Benzler is one of only two athletes returning to the team who qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section meet, along with sophomore Rachel Welz. Welz is another four-event athlete who broke the school high jumping record while also competing in the long jump, sprints and hurdles.
The team did lose a SJS meet qualifier in Chelsea Haverty who broke the school long jump record and was also part of the record-breaking 400 meter relay team.
Frank is confident, however, that the team’s sprinters will be just as potent this year as they were last year with sophomore sprinters Nicole Jackson and Katie Thompson returning, as well as senior sprinter/middle distance runner Cori Eden. Last season, Jackson set new records in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, as well as running in the 400 meter relay.
The most difficult task with this team’s team may be deciding which four events the team’s top athletes will be able to compete in as four is the maximum number of events each athlete is allowed to enter.
“I think they would all do six events if they could,” Frank said. “This is the best team I have seen in the whole time (five years) I have been here. Our sprinting and our hurdles especially look really good this year.”
Leading the way for the boys team is senior high/long jumper and sprinter Anthony Logan.
“He is a really hard worker and has a lot of natural ability,” Frank said. “And he has good speed in sprints.”
Like the girls, Frank expects to see impressive sprinting from the boys team with Kyle Reid, Jared Murnan, Kevin Grimes and Robbie Frank looking to showcase their wheels. Junior Landon Savoie is fighting through shin splits thus far this season, but upon his return looks to be on of the team’s most talented throwers.
“We don’t have a large number of male athletes, but the ones we do have are really good athletes,” Frank said.
The Bruins have 60 athletes out for track this season with five assistant coaches: Shane Williams (relay/sprinters), Scott Savoie (throwers/jumpers), Michelle Grebe (hurdlers), Michelle Wheeler (distance) and Jack McCrory (throwers).
More than 90 Nevada Union High School athletes are out for the track team this spring, making the early portion of the season a critical time to place athletes into their best events and areas of strength.
Overseeing the massive operation is first-year head coach Gene Meyers, who is joined by hurdles coach Nordis Ostrom, Sig Ostrom (sprinters/jumpers), Dick Hotchkiss (throwers/pole vaulters) and Jake Clinton (high jump/other jumpers). Meyers will work primarily with the team’s distance runners.
Last season, the Miners sent six athletes to the Sac-Joaquin Section Meet; four of those athletes will return.
Perhaps the biggest loss to the team was Steven Conrad, who is now running at The University of California, Berkeley and went to state meet in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, the 110 meter high hurdles and the long jump. On the girl’s side, the Miners lost pole vaulter Shannon Brown.
Leading the way for returning athletes is Nathan Jones, a senior who competes in the 110 meter high hurdles and the 300 meter intermediate hurdles. Junior James Brindley, who also plays football and basketball for the Miners, is back to compete in the pole vault and looks to be one of the team’s strongest sprinters.
Senior distance runner Shannon Lingo is back to run the 1600 while Sara Heidelberger returns to compete in the 300 meter low hurdles.
Meyers is confident that his boys varsity team is looking good thus far this season and hopes to see a big meets from senior pole vaulter Chad McCammon as well as sprinter Nate Basso, a junior.
The first-year coach is also excited about the talent he is seeing from his freshman and sophomore boys – talent that is sure to bloom on the varsity level in the not too distant future. Freshman distance runner Phillip Jackson, a miler, has earned early-season praise from Meyer.
Strength for the Miners’ girls team lies in the field events. Nevada Union will count on Emma Heck, Nancy Gutierrez, Sandy Gutierrez, Lauren Nelson, Kassi Dennis and Jill Eymann to earn points for the team.
Meyers is also excited to see how freshman sprinter Kristen Dahle’s running matures this season.
The Miners will host their own Nevada Union Invitational May 6th with the league meet taking place May 11th. Track and Field will wrap up with the State Meet, held at Hughes Stadium, June 3-4.
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