The 2019 track & field season, like 2018 and many seasons before, was nothing short of spectacular. School records, state meet podium appearances, multiple section (NCS) champions, dozens of league champions, and both league and section team championship banners were all part of the 2019 season. So, what can the 2020 team possibly do for an encore? In previewing the upcoming season, sprint coach Jay Lawson, jumps coach Jeff Rogers, distance coach Denis Mohun, and throws coach Jonathan Heuer talked about the possibilities for the 2020 teams.
Jay Lawson: Sprints/Relays
2019 was a big year for both the boys and girls teams: both teams won TCAL championships, the boys were the runner-up at Bayshore, and the girls won another Bayshore & MOC team championship. What can we expect from the teams in 2020?
Yeah, both teams had a lot of success in 2019… especially the girls. It feels like the success we’ve had over the years has made it so that the bar is now set pretty high for all subsequent teams. As a coaching staff, we like having a tradition of excellence that the athletes know about and try and continue. Each year is different and which reminds us to keep the bar realistically high depending on who we have on the team. Sophia Alexander graduated as in now at UCLA, Malcolm Clemons transferred to a school in Florida, Sophia Bailey is no longer at Saint Mary’s and Maddie Dwyer is out for the season with a foot injury. So, while we expect a lot from this group, we have suffered some big losses from last year.
Still, I feel like we can still compete for league and Bayshore championships with the athletes we have. We have a good blend of dedicated, talented upperclassmen and some really talented newcomers that should compliment each other enough to make us competitive. Look for our jumpers and hurdlers to carry a lot of the load.. with our sprinters and distance runners not far behind.
Who are some of the athletes in your group to keep an eye on this year?
As I said, we have a talented group of juniors and seniors that I’m pretty confident will go well this year. Look for junior Ka’Lib (KJ) Copes to be amongst the top 200-400 runners in the section. He had a really nice sophomore season last year, finishing 5th at MOC in the 400. Then, he ran even faster in the summer time. He’ll be the key to both of our relay teams and he’s also a strong 300m hurdler. He’s a real talent for sure. D’Niko Bates is another guy who has looked really strong in the pre-season. His speed and strength training has been going well and I expect he’ll make a really strong bid to grab a state meet spot in the 110 hurdles this year.
Senior Amelia Tremain went to the state meet last year and returns as one of the top 100m hurdlers in the section. Look for her to be among the top hurdlers in the area. Lastly, I expect junior Jordan Cornet to have a break out season in the 800 and 400 as well. She narrowly missed going to state in the 800 last year as a sophomore. This year might be her year to get a spot.
Despite official team practice having just started, are there any pre-season surprises or fresh faces we should look for?
Yes. We have a strong group of freshmen and sophomore that are my two favorite things: talented and hard-working. For the girls, we return Najah Williams (sprints), Julia Alexander (jumps), and Hailey Vines (hurdles) from last year… plus we add freshmen Sofia Jackson (400-800), Taryn Fettig (100-200), Georgia Rogers (Jumps-Hurdles) along with a few others that will make our depth and future on the girls side solid.
For the boys, freshman Anthony Jones is one of the most talented freshmen we’ve had in awhile. He has many of the prerequisites for greatness: efficient sprint mechanics, dynamic, competitive… As long as he’s willing to work hard and dedicate himself, I could see him having a lot of success. I also think we have some young jumpers and distance runners that have the ability to make a splash this year.
Finally, are there any meets in particular that are notable or Saint Mary’s track supporters should make sure to calendar?
As I’ve said before, we try and set up a schedule that allows our top end athletes to get the competition and exposure they need and at the same time select meets that allow our younger up and coming athletes the competition that matches their development. So, we’ve decided to skip the Stanford Invitational this year and instead take the team to Clovis and compete on the state meet track at the West Coast Relays. We also have meets out of town in Davis, Mountain View and Sacramento as well as local meets at Skyline, Amador Valley and Foothill high schools.
Jeff Rogers: Jumps
Coach Lawson talked about the jumpers as one of the strengths of the team this year. Do you agree?
Yeah, I do. We have some of the top returners in the entire NCS in all 3 girls jumping events and we have a top returning boy high jumper. Simone Rogers is the top returner in the girls high jump, Lydia Howard is one of the top 3 returners in the girls long jump, and Julia Alexander returns after making the state finals in the triple jump as a freshman. All three of those girls have been working hard in the preseason and all three should enjoy a lot of success and be big point scorers this season. Add in sophomore Anela Thomas and freshman high jumper Georgia Rogers and I think we’ve got a very strong girls group.
For the boys, the loss of Malcolm and Antoine cannot be made up… but watch out for senior Zach Deering-Haddix in the high jump. The benefits of off-season weight training are apparent and I expect him to follow up his state meet appearance of last year with an even better season this year. Freshman Anthony Jones is going to long jump and I expect that his talent will show itself, like it does on the track, on the runway and in the sand.
Has there been anyone so far this winter that has stood out to you?
Besides the athletes I mentioned before, I’m hoping sophomores Amir Cross and Sonny Buckner continue to develop and improve. Both of them could really help us. Amir high jumped 6’0” as a freshman and Sonny almost got to 40’0” in the triple. Neither of them had ever competed in track before and both showed promise. Also, junior Kames Matheson is in the midst of becoming a jumper. I think he could help us if he commits himself. For the girls, freshman Taryn Fettig and junior transfer Trinity Anderson are both pretty good long jumpers so keep an eye on them.
Denis Mohun: Distances
You have a talented group of runners this season. What about them has you excited and who has stood out to you?
I’m most excited about how dedicated and hard-working this group has been. The boys have been running a lot this off season and it shows. Junior Riley Hartney has been the catalyst and has sparked the whole group. He ran 4:49 in the mile last year and I expect him to run faster than that pretty early in the season. Along with Riley, freshman Mateo Malko-Allen is another one to watch. He finished the cross country season as our fastest runner and I expect to see similar results in track. He’s as talented a freshman as we’ve had in 15 years. Junior Zax Lieske gives us even more depth and experience on the boys side.
For the girls, we have some returning talent that will combine with some new, freshman talent that should be enough to make our girls formidable. We already know about Jordan Cornet in the 800, but along with her take a look at freshman Sofia Jackson. She’ll run some 400’s as well as some 800’s. I wouldn’t be surprised, based on how she ran in cross country and how she’s looked so far this winter, to see her have a breakout season. Also, junior Olivia Lawson has been training really hard over the winter. I’m hoping she’ll have a break through that will get her into the mid 5:30 range.
If you had to pick out a few newcomers and fresh faces, who would you go with?
Well, as I’ve said, look for Sofia Jackson to run well. Also, Leiah Goode and Summer Graham ran with her in cross country and each of those girls have the talent to run fast. They’ll have to embrace the track-middle distance training but if they do…. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me if freshman Adrian Licea and sophomore Jeffrey Norris and Ryan Painter all broke 5:00 in the mile this year.
Jonathan Heuer – Throws
Who should we look for to lead this 2020 throws group?
Well, we have two distinctive groups this year. I think we’ll be pretty solid on the girl’s side. Both Jasmine Farmer and Erika Marbley return and each had their share of success last year. Jasmine’s athleticism seems like it’s been enhanced from another year of high level basketball and Erika’s strength in the weight room is improving. I think they’ll both throw pretty far this season.
On the boy’s side, we’ll have to wait and see. We’ve lost a few key guys from last year to injury and graduation. It’s looking more and more like a re-building year for the guys so hopefully we’ll get some young talent who are motivated to work hard and who want to throw far someday.