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TRACK AND FIELD PREVIEW: Federal Way boys hope to continue dominance
The Federal Way High School boys track and field program has dominated the South Puget Sound League in recent memory. The Eagles haven't lost a league dual meet since the 2007 season.
Since then, Federal Way has won five league championships in a row and won 30-straight SPSL dual meets. The Eagles ended up third at the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships and should be even better this season.
"We will be a good team," said head coach Sam Beesley, who is entering his 44th year in track, in a classic understatement.
Federal Way returns all but one athlete who scored points at last year's state meet, including three from the state title-winning 4x400-meter relay team.
Back are ultra-talented seniors Zeke McNeal (sprints), Mike Tate (sprints, jumps), Tremaine Rambo (distance), Albert Havili (throws), Aaron Persinger (hurdles), Caleb Dawson (hurdles) and Mathias Forward (pole vault), juniors Khalil Howse (sprints), Mitch Stewart (distance), Mussie Simon (distance), JayTee Tuli (throws) and Keenan Curran (jumps); and sophomores Malik Montoya (sprints), Jared Pulu (throws) and Chico McClatcher (jumps).
McNeal finished fourth in both the 100 and 200 meters at state. McNeal ran a blazing 10.79 in the 100 finals and finished in 22.31 in the 200.
Havili ended up third in the discus with a throw of 164-6 and set the school record in winning the West Central District title at 178-7.
Tate helped the Federal Way 4x100 relay team finish second and individually won a bronze medal in the long jump with a leap of 22-3 at state. He also finished fifth in the 200 meters in a time of 22.54.
Persinger, who will compete at the University of Memphis next year, qualified for both final heats in the hurdles. He finished fifth in the 110 hurdles (14.95) and was sixth in the 300 hurdles (38.87) and was also a part of both relay teams for Federal Way.
Curran was ninth in the triple jump (42-1) and McClatcher was 12th in the long jump (20-5 1/2) for the Eagles.
"Experience, depth and quality are our strengths," Beesley said.
The Eagle girls will be led by the return of state champion Mariyah Vongsaveng, who won the 300-meter hurdles as a freshman. Vongsaveng was also a part of Federal Way's second-place 4x100 relay team and the third-place 4x200 team.
Also back for the talented Eagles will be T'amara Richey and Karis Cameron, who were also on both relay teams, Luaipou Lologo, a state qualifier in the throws, and senior sprinter Majerae Gates. Gates missed most of last year due to health issues.
"She has recorded one of the state's fastest 100-meter times," said head coach Marcus Yzaguirre. "She is recovering well."
But the Eagles will also welcome one of the fastest sprinters in the nation in junior Hannah Cunliffe. Last month, Cunliffe ran the second-best high school 60-meter dash in the nation in 7.38. She also competed at meets all around the world and has run a personal-best 11.7 in the 100 meters. Curtis junior Kennadi Bouyer won the 4A state title last year at 12.10. Cunliffe has also ran a 23.74 in the 200, which was also won by Bouyer last year in 24.95.
"She is one of the state's top athletes, if not the fastest girl track athlete in Washington," Yzaguirre said.
The Raider girls have developed into the gold standard in the SPSL Central Division. Jefferson has won the last three league championships and finished 5-0 a year ago.
But the Raiders will be counting on a lot of new girls this season.
"We will have a challenging road ahead in defending, as our competitors are very tough," said co-head coach Lori Matthews.
Junior Kaya Warrior is the only TJ returner with state experience from last year. Warrior finished 10th in the shot. Also returning are senior pole vaulter Montana Pellegrini, who finished fourth at the 2011 state meet, Alison Arthur (pole vault, jumps), Cheryl Hong (sprints), Lindsey Jackson (distance) and Kelin Doner (distance).
"We will be strong in the pole vault, throws and distance again this year," Matthews said.
On the boys' side, last year was a fresh start for the Raiders, who graduated some talented seniors in 2011. Jefferson went winless during the SPSL Central season.
"We are in the process of reloading with some fantastic young men in our freshman and sophomore classes," said head coach Tommy Decker. "We will be a much improved squad over last year. Our goal is to be in the hunt for a top-three finish."
Decker got some good news on the first day of tryouts when 106 boys turned out, which will add to the competition in practice for the limited varsity slots in each event.
Returners include senior Yohan Gebrehiwet, who was a state qualifier in cross country, Johnny Myles (sprints, jumps), Lionel Estrada (800), Michael Burt (discus), Josh Madden (javelin) and Ryan Austria (pole vault).
"It's still too early to tell what surprises are in store," Decker said. "We are excited to see what the season brings."
The Titans boys finished right behind Federal Way a season ago in the SPSL Central and return plenty of talent under head coach Jay Cardwell. Beamer's only league loss came to the Eagles.
"Our success will be measured by our improvement through out the season," said Cardwell. "Our team philosophy and excitement for the sport will make the season a positive one."
Adrian Shocks is back after finishing 10th in the state triple jump. Also returning are state-caliber distance runners Austin Jex and Keplar House.
"Overall sprints are solid with an improved distance core," said Cardwell. "Some newcomers can make (our throwers) a solid team."
On the girls' side, the Titans should be improved from last year, when they finished 2-2-1 in the SPSL Central.
"We have a large team of athletic and enthusiastic girls which will help us be flexible and competitive throughout the season," head coach Jennifer Allen.
Beamer should be led again by Alanna Vann and Chante Spotser. Both made the final heats in their respective races at last year's state meet, Vann in the 100 meters and Spotser in the 400. Nicole Seabolt also ran at state with Vann and Spotser on the Titans' 4x100 relay team.
The Titans also have several talented freshmen and sophomore newcomers, led by Ta'lea Culp, Angela Lamaveve, Nana Lemaveve and Jordan Willingham.
The Decatur girls seem primed to make a run at the SPSL 3A Division championship. The Gators return, pretty much, their whole team from a season ago that finished 3-2.
Decatur returns several talented all-around athletes, led by junior pole vaulter Anna Paradee, who finished 14th at the state meet. Also back are sprinters Leah Johnson, Clover Yates, Olivia Sullivan and Sierra Shugarts, throwers Ciara Williams and Michelle Johnson, pole vaulter Tori Braun and hurdler Laura Keenan.
"We are strong in everything except our weaknesses," said head coach Sam Hunt.
On the boys' side, the Gators graduated several talented athletes from a season ago and will be a very young team, according to Hunt.
Leading the list of returners should be thrower Kenny Kim, jumper Tracy Wilson and hurdler Karim Coulibaly.
"We really need to get our athletes to try new events so we can increase our depth in every event," said Hunt.
Federal Way Eagles
Head coach: Boys, Sam Beesley. Girls, Marcus Yzaguirre
Last year's records: Boys, 5-0 (first in SPSL Central); Girls, 4-1 (second in SPSL Central)
Strong returners: Boys, Sr. Zeke McNeal (sprints), Sr. Mike Tate (sprints), Jr. Khalil Howse (sprints), Soph. Malik Montoya (sprints), Sr. Tremaine Rambo (distance), Jr. Mitch Stewart (distance), Jr. Mussie Simon (distance), Sr. Albert Havili (throws), Jr. JayTee Tuili (throws), Soph. Jared Pulu (throws), Sr. Aaron Persinger (hurdles), Sr. Caleb Dawson (hurdles), Jr. Keenan Curran (jumps), Soph. Chico McClatcher (jumps), Sr. Mathias Forward (pole vault). Girls, Soph. Mariyah Vongsaveng (hurdles, sprints), Jr. T'amara Richey (jumps, sprints), Soph. Karis Cameron (sprints), Sr. Luaipou Lologo (throws), Sr. Majerae Gates (sprints).
Top newcomers: Boys, Jr. Korey Miller (hurdles), Fr. Tyson Penn (high jump), Fr. Jason Palmer (sprints).Girls, Hannah Cunliffe (sprints)
Head coach: Boys, Tommy Decker (seventh season); Girls, Paul Ruston and Lori Matthews (13th years).
Last year's record: Boys, 0-5 (sixth in the SPSL Central). Girls, 5-0 (SPSL Central champs).
Strong returners: Boys, Sr. Johnny Myles (sprints, jumps), Sr. Lionel Estrada (distance), Sr. Yohan Gebrehiwet (distance), Sr. Michael Burt (discus), Jr. Josh Madden (javelin), Jr. Ryan Austria (pole vault).Girls, Sr. Montana Pellegrini (pole vault), Sr. Allison Arthur (pole vault, jumps), Sr. Cheryl Hong (sprints, relays), Sr. Lindsey Jackson (distance), Jr. Kaya Warrior (shot put, high jump), Jr. Kelin Doner (distance).
Top newcomers: None listed
Boys coach: Jay Cardwell (10th season)
Girls coach: Jennifer Allen (third year)
Last year's record: Boys, 4-1 (second in SPSL Central); Girls, 2-2-1 (fourth in the SPSL Central).
Strong returners: Boys, Soph. Austin Jex (distance), Jr. Hafton Tafare (distance), Jr. Keplar House (jumps), Jr. Adrian Shocks (jumps), Jr. Justin Evans (jumps), Jr. Terry McCray (sprints), Soph. Taylor Fogle (sprints), Soph. Kaos James (sprints), Soph. Ammon Auna (sprints), Jr. Colton Thrasher (throws), Sr. Milo Loving (throws). Girls, Jr. Alanna Vann (sprints), Sr. Keturah Saddler (sprints, jumps), Soph. Ashley Mason (distance), Jr. Tana O'Connell (sprints, jumps), Soph. Nicole Seabolt (sprints), Soph. Chante Spotser (sprints), Sr. Makayla Sullivan (sprints), Jr. Janelle Razor (hurdles), Jr. Kiernan Reitz (hurdles, pole vault), Sr. Miranda Vaara (high jump), Jr. Asia Rogers (throws).
Top newcomers: Boys, Sr. Forrest Grant (sprints), Soph. Brody Martinez (sprints), Sr. Jamarie Davis (middle distance). Girls, Fr. Ta'Lea Culp (sprints, jumps), Soph. Angela Lemaveve (throws), Fr. Nana Lemaveve (throws), Fr. Jordan Willingham (sprints, jumps).
Head coach: Sam Hunt (7th season)
Last year's record: Not available
Strong returners: Boys, Sr. Kenny Kim (throws), Sr. Tracy Wilson (jumps), Soph. Karim Coulibaly (hurdles).Girls, Sr. Ciara Williams (throws), Sr. Leah Johnson (sprints), Sr. Tori Braun (pole vault), Sr. Michelle Johnson (throws), Sr. Clover Yates (sprints), Jr. Olivia Sullivan (sprints), Jr. Sierra Shugarts (sprints), Jr. Anna Paradee (pole vault), Jr. Laura Keenan (hurdles).
Top newcomer: Girls, Fr. Parris Watson (throws).