Matchups can be the key to team titles
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Hours of online study by coaches can be just as important as hard work by athletes on the track to a team’s Far East meet title hopes.
Jon Fick and his assistant, Paul Campbell, of defending Far East Division I Kubasaki have done plenty of that. Times and distances of all Pacific teams are no secret, thanks to coaches reporting meets to sites such as Stripes.com and Athletic.net.
Coaches gauge which teams have athletes who rival theirs. Position runners, throwers and jumpers in events that stand to maximize a team’s points. Add up the projected number of points.
“And the magic number seems to be about 200,” Campbell said of the projected figure needed to win the combined school banner.
Kubasaki won it and the boys team title last year and will attempt to repeat that feat starting Monday at Yokota High School’s Bonk Field.
The 200 is predicated on “everybody running exactly how they’re supposed to,” Campbell said. “We know who our competitors are, and we’ve been training accordingly to get us ready.”
This year’s Dragons are swimming in sprinters: Rahman Farnell, Jarrett Mitchell, Kaelyn Francis and Kourtney Mitchell.
Kadena is strong in distance runners - Ana Hernandez, Andrew Kilkenny and rookies Wren Renquist and Javier Major - and features a strong thrower in Jazmyn Sharper.
Nile C. Kinnick’s girls lineup is poised to shoot for a sweep of the sprints, distance and hurdles events, finishing 1-2 in some events, said Bruce Carrick, the Far East meet manager. Only Francis and Zion Christian Academy International’s Amora Wood stand in the way of Kinnick, he added in those events.
Kinnick’s Jabari Johnson “has a chance for a triple” in the 100, 200 and 400 “unless (Farnell) pulls it off,” said Carrick, who has a weekly front-row seat as Kanto Plain meets manager. Johnson was hand-timed in the 200 in 21.0 at last week’s Kanto finals. That would have been a Pacific record if not for an illegal wind.
Another speedster is DaiQuan Wilson of first-time entrant Humphreys, DODDS Korea meets manager and Blackhawks coach Mitch Moellendick said; he was hand-timed in the 100 in 10.88 and the 200 in 22.1 in the DODDS Korea finals last Saturday.
Two Kanto distance runners stand to challenge the Kadena distance contingent in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200: Yokota sophomore record-holder Daniel Galvin, who set Pacific records in the first two, and Kinnick senior Carydaliz Fontanez. A sweep by each is possible, Carrick said.
Field events seem to be “evenly distributed” among many teams, Carrick said, though Sharper is a potential discus and shot put standout, American School In Japan’s David Hernandez in the jumps and Yokota freshman Christian Sonnenberg in the discus. Seoul American’s David Davidson and Cameron Harris will figure into it, Moellendick said.
Moellendick feels Kubasaki and Kadena will be “a step ahead” of the rest of the Division I field, though he notes Yokota’s boys and Kinnick’s girls strengths and ASIJ’s overall balance. “It will be close,” he said.
Defending Division II champion ZCAI has Wood in hurdles and sprints, middle-distance runner Jair Cummings and fleet long-distance specialist Rejay Maruo.
Thrower Niyah Lewis and distance man Jarell Hibler headline potential winner Zama. Robert D. Edgren’s lone qualifier, Shawn Robinson, is a proven hurdler. Okinawa Christian International relies on sprinter Tai Calvin and distance men Shawn Monroe and Kento Nambara.
And the D-II teams may figure into how the D-I schools finish. While team points are segregated by division, all athletes are shooting for the same gold medals, unlike any other Far East sport, Campbell said.
“They’re going to take points away not just from us, but from everyone else,” Campbell said. “That puts us all in the same mix.”
Then there are the factors not known until race day – last-minute injuries or illnesses, athletes not bringing their A game or not being used to the weather.
“That may change their performance,” Campbell said. “A lot of interesting circumstances can crop up.”