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Chs 2002 Track &Amp; Field Preview

Columbia High teams feature depth in jumps, sprints

The 2001 season arguably was the best-ever in the history of Columbia High School's track and field program.

Both the boys and girls teams captured S.W. Washington District 4 championships, then capped their seasons with impressive performances at the state 2A meet in Cheney.

The CHS girls team finished second at state for the second year in a row while the boys team placed fifth, one place removed from a trophy.

This year it could be the boys team's turn to step onto the podium at state.

The Bruins come back loaded with talent, led by two-time defending state boys high jump champion Teddy Davis, the school record holder in the high jump and the triple jump.

The senior, who also long jumps and plans to add the 110-meter high hurdles to his repertoire this year, is among six returning lettermen with state-meet experience.

The others are seniors Mike Wild (shot put), Keith McMillen (100, 400, 4x100 relay), Conner Williams (4x400 relay), junior Adam Neff (200, 400, 4x100 relay) and Brett Schutt (4x400 relay).

Bruins Coach Doug Miller said he's also excited about promising freshmen Matthew Lovrin, who could be a factor in the 400- and 800-meter runs, the mile and in the running for a relay team spot, and Wes Blankenship, who'll join Wild in the throws.

"We've got some real standouts and some freshmen I'm real curious about," Miller noted. "I know a lot of people are looking forward to seeing White Salmon compete, and so am I."

The chance to watch Davis high jump is worth the price of admission at any high school track meet. Last year he cleared 6 feet, 11 inches at state and narrowly missed surpassing 7 feet.

"Teddy should challenge the high jump and triple jump records he established last year," Miller said.

School standards in the 4x400 and 4x100 relays also could fall this season, provided CHS's stable of runners can stay healthy.

In the throws, Wild will renew his assault on the school's discus record. His best effort last season came within four feet of that mark.

Columbia also should be strong in the sprints, thanks to speed demons McMillen, Neff and Williams.

"We're in a good position to defend our district championship, and we have a better chance to come back with a state trophy than ever before," Miller said of the boys team.

CHS's girls team, however, will be hard-pressed to continue its run of three-straight state trophy finishes.

"It's kind of a building year for the girls," Miller observed. "We lost a lot of strength in a lot of events."

Namely, CHS lost four-event standout MaryAnn Graves to graduation. She was a big reason the Bruins finished second at state the last two years.

But Graves had help, in the person of Kristin Janney, the school record-holder in the triple jump, an event in which she placed third at state last year.

Miller said he plans to experiment with the junior this year by having her concentrate on as many as six events.

"She's probably the leading candidate in the triple jump, and it's an event she likes," her coach noted. "But she'll also compete in the long jump, high jump and the sprints to help her find her strengths."

The team's strengths, according to Miller, are in the jumps and the sprints.

CHS should be particularly good in the triple jump, in which Katie Mansfield is back after a solid freshman season. She is primed for a breakout season after just missing in qualifying for state.

Joining her and Janney will be newcomer Alexa Williams, a sophomore who also could make her mark in the high jump, long jump and possibly the hurdles.

Junior Jennifer Clark returns in the pole vault, as do sophomores Sylvia Kreiter and Jennifer Stembridge.

Among the incoming freshmen, Whitney Shelley and Justine Rawding, in the 800 and the mile, could be the biggest surprises.

"We're thinner than we've been in several years, but the girls team should strong. Just not as strong as last year," Miller said.

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