Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times Junior Kelbie Middleton, left, practicing for the 4x100-meter relay at the high school on Monday. Middleton is quickly becoming a premier sprinter for the Trojans.
Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times Nolan Toomer and Nick Nelson running side by side on Monday. They will both be trying to revive the boys long distance program this year.
Once in while a coach will look at his talent and just nod his head and say, “It’s going to be OK.” Trojans Coach Ed Kirkwood was that coach and was pleased with what his team accomplished for the first meet of the season, despite some setbacks.
The Trojans were at the Heitkotter Invitational over the weekend, which involved 16 track teams. There were 10 Division I teams and 6 Division I-A teams.
“I am satisfied with the meet. I always like to highlight the personal best after the meet, so I am looking at the paper here and there were just PRs (personal best) all over the place on my sheet on the girls’ side and the guys’ side. I was pretty happy with it,” the coach said.
Kirkwood said his team scored well against the I-A teams which were there and it was a good opportunity to see how his competition looked.
If one were to look just at how Pahrump scored, one would miss the big picture. Pahrump ran against bigger schools and finished in seventh place out of 16 schools for the girls and 9th place out of 15 teams for the boys. When you look how Pahrump did against Division I-A schools, they finished in third place on the girls’ side and 4th place for the boys.
“There were only a few 1-A schools there. It was pretty much Faith and us that did pretty well. They really don’t have a team title at the Heitkotter. The teams that were ahead of us were Faith and all the big schools,” Kirkwood said.
For the past couple of years Pahrump has been rebuilding its long distance program in track and cross country. When people talk about the Trojans long distance they talk about Stefanie Thelaner. She has been the backbone of the distance side for the past two years. As a senior, she is expected to lead the team in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs. At the Heitkotter, she was also asked to run the 800-meter and possibly be the fourth person on the 4x800-meter relay.
On Saturday, she ran a 2:50.72 and finished in ninth. For Kirkwood it was not the best time, but it was a start.
“I knew she was not happy with the results of her 3,200 meter. I ran her in the 800 meter because I am looking for the fourth girl in the 4x800-meter relay. She only had about an hour’s rest, which should be enough, but the 800 is a tough race. I told her and Fenny (Descuatan) to run it for time because I told the two they were both vying for that spot on the 800-meter team. Stef ran that race pretty hard, so I am not sure how much she had for that 3,200. She was mad about her time. She was not happy,” he said.
This 800 team is led by senior Sydney Sladek, who wants the team to take state. Sladek runs the anchor and has a time of 2:13 from last year.
The Lady Trojans should also compete in the sprints. Kaitlin Klem is gone and now the Trojans will depend on junior Kelbie Middleton to lead the team. She ran second to Klem last year with a 12.74 and this year she has already improved to a 12.59. Middleton finished in the top 10 at the Heitkotter.
Kirkwood said Middleton had PRs in the 100 meter and the 200 meter. In the 200 meter, she ran a 26.11.
The Trojans now know what they have to do to be back on top in the women’s hurdles after losing two top hurdlers last year, Naomi Argabright and Sarah Dennis.
Meghan McDermott hopes to fill those shoes along with Gabby Vasquez. McDermott finished in the top 10 in the 100-meter hurdles at 18.31 and Vasquez finished at 20.19. Both girls are sophomores.
For McDermott, she had a PR in both the 100 and the 300-meter hurdles. She ran a 56.00 in the 300.
In the high jump, Mikayla Davis was a little bit distracted because she ran two relays. Kirkwood knows she can do better than 4-feet 6-inches in the high jump. He is confident she will do better than 5 feet this year.
As far as the pole vault, Andi Bishop did well. “I feel she will break the record. She should have a shot at 10 feet this year,” Kirkwood said.
The boy’s team suffered a big loss when Keenan Harris pulled a hamstring in the 100-meter dash on Saturday. Kirkwood will have to rely on his younger sprinters, Nico Cipollini, John Clark, Dylan Montgomery and Jose Nunez to fill the large hole.
For the boys, they dominated in the hurdles with returning state champion in the 110-meter hurdles Devon Montgomery. Montgomery showed everyone that he hadn’t lost a step by getting PRs in both the 110-meter hurdles (14.66) and the 400 meter (51.22.). Montgomery was the fastest 110-meter hurdler of all the divisions. He also had a personal best in the discus throwing 120.08 feet.
Senior Michael Carlson was also close to his personal best in the 300-meter hurdles (41.81) taking fifth overall.
In distance, Nick Nelson is in prime condition. He had a great day and was only a couple of seconds off his personal best and finished the 1,600-meter run with a 4:53.02 and finished 8th overall.
In field events, Pahrump missed Adam Brand, but according to Kirkwood all his throwers had personal best, both male and female.
“For the boys, shot put was throwing against the Liberty kid who throws a 51. So all my kids thought they didn’t do well but all three shot puters threw personal best and all three discus throwers threw a personal best,” Kirkwood explained.
The coach said he wanted his kids to compare themselves to the kids in their division and not to the Liberty kid, Jarvis Polu, who is a world-class thrower.
Kirkwood knows his relay teams for both boys and girls need a lot of work.
“The hand-offs were not that great for the boys and the girls. I had to scratch the 4x100 for the boys because we had one kid who didn’t come because of the military ball and then Keenan got hurt,” he said.
Kirkwood said he will have to work with the 4x100-meter relay without Keenan for a month and he will just have to try different people.
In the pole vault, Kirkwood has confidence in all of them that they will do well. For the boys, the vaulters are led by senior Jacob Stearns who finished fifth overall (10-06). He is followed by sophomore Nico Cipolini(10-00).
“All three vaulters are doing well with new vault coach (referring to Andi Bishop, a female). He is working on their form. They are jumping in Las Vegas for a club and getting away with bad form so this guy is helping them with that,” concluded Kirkwood.