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Track team has two invitationals under their belt

The Trojans track team has gone to two invitationals in Las Vegas, the Heitkotter on March 11 and the Liberty Invitational on March 18. In both events, the team competed with schools much larger than Pahrump.

Trojans track coach McKenzie Dean has high expectations for this year’s team and said running in these events helps the team to improve.

Pahrump competed against mostly Class 4A schools in their last two invitationals, which is one class higher than Pahrump’s Class 3A. Dean feels the better schools make the team better in league competition.

“Several of the 3A schools did not compete last weekend, but it has forced us to work on a different level that helps our personal records improve,” Dean said. “Our team is very young, with several incoming freshmen, but we are seeing new personal records from several of our athletes.”

She added, “We are excited to see where the season takes us through hard work and respecting the process of building this program,” Dean said. “Our biggest message as a coaching staff right now is to ‘leave no doubt’ in practice, competition and life, which essentially is promoting doing our best in everything we do.”

At the Heitkotter, the Trojans boys finished 15th out of 17 schools, scoring 12 points and the girls finished 15th out 17 schools with three points. The Liberty Invitational saw similar results for both teams with the Trojans boys finished in 13th place out of 14 teams with 9 points and the girls finished 12th out of 15 schools, scoring 12 points.

This year the Trojans have some changes in the coaching staff.

Jennifer Lopez, physical education teacher at J.G. Johnson Elementary school and former coach for West Wendover High School, will be the new jumps coach. Nick Sterns, a former graduate of Pahrump Valley and former Eastern Washington track athlete, will be the new pole vault coach and Mike Colucci, a high school PE teacher, football and wrestling coach will be the new sprints coach.

The returning coaches are as follows: Fred Schmidt took a break and is the throwing coach. Jill Harris is the hurdles coach and Craig Rieger is the distance coach.

Dean says one freshman athlete who should make a difference this year is Jazmyne Turner.

“Turner leads our women sprinters in the 100-meter dash and the 200 as well as anchoring our 4×100 relay and 4×200,” Dean said. “With more race experience and continuing to train hard, she could be one of Southern Nevada’s higher ranked women sprinters.”

In her first two times out in the 100-meter dash, Turner was consistent, running 13.78 seconds at Heitkotter and 13.77 at the Liberty Invitational, which was right about in the middle out of 45 runners for both invites.

As for returning athletes, Dean said the throwers have some athletes that are returning that will have a strong showing this year.

“Our throwers core is one of strong numbers, mixed with new athletes and great veteran leadership,” Dean said. “Junior Jeremy Albertson leads Southern Nevada Class 3A right now in the discus. He will play a key role in our team’s success.”

Albertson set a school record by throwing 140 feet, 5 inches at the Liberty Invitational last Saturday.

Caeli Havel is the lead thrower for the girls and had a personal best in the discus to finish second at the Liberty Invitational, throwing 108-10.

Another returning athlete is junior distance runner Bryce Odegard.

“Bryce is coming off of a nagging injury that he developed during cross-country, so his early-season training has been one of careful progression,” Dean said. “We look at him as being one of our top team scorers on the men’s side and training for him to claim more state championship titles, just as he did in cross-country.”

At the Liberty, Odegard finished 15th out of 47 runners in the 1,600-meter run and number one out of all the Class 3A schools at that meet.

The Trojans will be traveling to the Ron Resler Invitational at Boulder City on April 1 , and Dean said the team is excited to finally be racing against primarily schools that it will face at regional and state.

“I think it will be a great opportunity for our athletes to see success and keep the momentum rolling,” Dean said.

Pahrump’s first home meet was on Tuesday, which was past deadline.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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