La Center High School’s track and field team is gearing up for the upcoming district tournament after having a strong showing this season.
Coach Jill Cole said the team has performed well this year.
“We’ve had some really great performances by some athletes, and we have a very young team and a lot of athletes who are new to track and field, so it’s been really fun to see how they’re progressing and how to help them find which events they’re gravitating toward and watching the improvement there,” Cole said.
One performance she highlighted is from junior Joe Blanshan, who she said competed in the Nike elite meet at Jesuit High School in Portland on Friday, April 29.
“He’s doing very well. He ran the 1600 and 3200. Joe made 4:30 in the 1600 and we’re looking to drop that time,” she said.
Cole said Blanshan is a “hard worker” who has his goals set and knows what he wants to accomplish.
She also mentioned sophomore Shaela Bradley, who has competed in the 100, 200, and 400-meter dash, along with the long jump. Bradley competed in the Nike elite meet as well.
“(Bradley) holds the school record in the 100-meter dash at La Center, so she broke that last year. Since both Blanshan and she are competing in the Nike elite meet, many of the invitationals we’ve gone to, they earned athlete of the meet. They’re putting in some pretty outstanding performances,” Cole said.
As for Makayla Hubler, who runs the 800-meter dash, Cole said “we’re looking forward to good things for her. She’s making a lot of progress.”
Then there’s newcomer Francisco Cuervo-Sanchez, who she said is scoring close to 40 feet in the shot put. As for freshman Billie Ross, who competes in discus and also competed in the Nike elite meet, Cole highlighted Ross’ enthusiasm and positive attitude, which she said has been “really fun to watch.”
Although they were able to compete last year, Cole said this is the first full season the team has had since the pandemic started in 2020.
“It was just a handful of league meets (last year) which we’re really grateful for, but now we’re back to a very normal track season,” she said. “I only have two members on my team that were freshmen who are now seniors that have the experience of what a full track season looks like. Last year, we were just excited to get out and be with the team again. This year, it’s been a pretty big learning curve for the kids, but everybody’s handled it really well.”
Cole said the return of a full season has been great, especially for the upperclassmen who are involved in the postseason process.
“Our kids are eager to learn, they’re willing to work hard, and it’s been really nice,” Cole said.
The postseason process entails going to the subdistrict meet on May 13 at Seton Catholic College Preparatory, which precedes the district tournament and determines who qualifies to go. Then whoever succeeds in districts will move onto the state tournament.
At the Nike elite meet, Cole said Blanshan finished 26th in the 1500-meter dash in a time of 4:08.1, and Ross finished 40th in the discus with a distance of 85 feet, 8 inches.
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