TRACK & FIELD: Sierra Gold athletes impress at championship meets |

TRACK & FIELD: Sierra Gold athletes impress at championship meets

Sierra Gold’s recipe for success is a relatively simple one. Take a group of motivated athletes, give them dedicated coaches, develop a supportive environment and enjoy the experience.

“There’s no other team quite like ours,” said Sierra Gold President Drue Mathies. “I don’t see the coaching like we have, which is so supportive. You just want to do well for them.”

The local Masters track and field team recently wrapped up a busy month of competition in which its athletes shined across multiple events and divisions at both the USATF Outdoor National Championships and the North, Central America and Caribbean Region of World Masters Championships.

At the USATF Outdoor Championships July 11-14 in Ames, Iowa, Sierra Gold had 15 athletes combine for 13 national championships, 46 medals and a fifth place finish in the overall team standings.

Sierra Gold athletes who earned national championships in Iowa include Betts Stroh (women’s 85-89 age group) in the 200-meter race and javelin, Lynne Hurrell (women’s 80-84) in the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m, Roger Parnell (men’s 70-74) in the 100m, 80m hurdles and long jump, Makie Ohler (women’s 55-59) in the 5,000m and 10,000m, Steven Adelman (men’s 50-54) in the hammer throw and weight throw, and Durrelle Schimek (women’s 50-54) in the javelin.

“I was a little nervous the night before, but as soon as I started running I settled down, and the coaches told me to take it easy and just enjoy myself,” said Hurrell, who won three national titles and also took third in the javelin at the meet. “I have a competitive spirit and I just enjoy doing it, and doing it with all the teammates. They’re like my family … They take really good care of me and see that I do the right things. I have the two coaches, I have Clyde (Lehman) and Dick Hotchkiss and they expect a lot of me, and I try to do the best I can for the them and the team.”

Sierra Gold athletes Bob Thurman, Bob King, Patti Baker, Hank Konen, Inka Mims, Rene Sprattling, Hotchkiss and Mathies all earned medals in their respective events and divisions as well.

At last weekend’s North, Central America and Caribbean Region of World Masters Championships in Toronto, Sierra Gold athletes claimed 11 golds, two silvers and three bronzes, marking the team’s best showing at a world event.

Leading the way for Sierra Gold was Irene Obera, who earned seven gold medals in the women’s 85-89 division. Obera won gold in the 100m, 200m, 400m, long jump, shot put, high jump and 4x100m relay. She set meet and national records in the 200m (44.27 seconds), long jump (2.28 meters) and 4×100 relay (1:29.04).

Also winning gold at the World Championships was Ohler, Baker and Thurman.

Ohler took first in 5,000m and 10,000m races. She also earned a bronze medal in the 1,500m.

Baker impressed in the hammer throw, claiming gold in the women’s 65-69 division.

Thurman took flight in the men’s 60-64 long jump and landed gold with a distance of 4.74m.

Sierra Gold athletes Hank Kohen, Kathy Slouber, John McNamee and Bryan Mayberry also earned medals at the World Championships.

Mathies said Sierra Gold’s coaches (Lehman, Hotchkiss and Steven Conrad) deserve a lot of credit for the team’s success.

“We have really good coaching here. They motivate us,” said Mathies. “As we get older it gets a little bit easier to say ‘oh, I’ll stay in bed today,’ but then you think, ‘I have the coach waiting for me so I’m going to get up and be there.’ They support us and inspire us.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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