Central Oregon prep track and field preview
Summit looks to dominate yet again

Dave Turnbull has guided the Summit track and field program to 11 state team titles since the west Bend high school opened its doors in 2001.

But the longtime coach seems downright giddy about this coming season, as the Storm boys and girls strive for their fourth consecutive sweep of the Class 5A team state championships.

“We’re probably as excited as we’ve ever been,” Turnbull said last week. “It’s hard to overstate what we’ve done in the past, but honestly this is probably the best first week we’ve ever had. We’re seeing better improvement from the kids and it feels like we’ve already finished a month of training — they’re looking THAT good right now.”

The Summit girls, led by a group that has been training as heptathletes, appear headed for their eighth straight state team title. With added depth in more events, the Summit girls squad is “by far the best girls team we’ve ever assembled,” Turnbull said.

Based on the program’s history, the coach’s assessment speaks volumes.

“This girls team is already marked for breaking the state record on most points ever scored (at a state championship meet),” Turnbull added.

Junior Miranda Brown is a heptathlete-in-training who will compete this season in hurdles, triple jump, long jump, relays, and possibly javelin. Brown finished second in the triple jump at the state meet last season.

Other Summit girls who have been training as heptathletes include sophomores Claire Christensen and Hannah Cochran. (The seven-event heptathlon consists of the 100-meter dash, high jump, shot put, 200, long jump, javelin and 800.)

Sophomore Hannah Gindlesperger won the state title in cross-country this past fall and was a track state champion in the 3,000 meters last spring.

Junior Megan Buzzas returns as a top sprinter for the Storm, and Kaely Gordon, also a junior, is a standout in the middle distances.

A talented crop of freshmen, Turnbull noted, only adds further to the astonishing depth of the Summit girls squad.

While the girls team is relatively young, the Summit boys are led by a core of seniors and juniors. Junior Matthew Maton is the defending state champion in both the 1,500 and 3,000 meters on the track and also claimed the cross-country state title last fall. He won the 5,000-meter cross-country race in a staggering 14 minutes, 59 seconds — just four seconds off the state record.

Turnbull said Maton is being recruited by a number of NCAA Division I schools across the country.

“He is a hard, hard worker,” Turnbull said. “We want to challenge him, but we’ll be working speed, speed, speed with him. Keep him healthy, keep him fast, and good things will happen with Matthew. But it’s not just Matthew — I think we’ll get a lot of boys to the state meet.”

Senior Michael Menefee is the returning state champion in the high jump. Other Summit seniors to watch include Calvin Aylward in the javelin and Marc Hasenoehrl in the 400.

“We’ve got more boys that have potential,” Turnbull said. “It’s a matter of coaches getting the most out of their athletes. If we do, we may get a couple trophies again.”

So, just how does Summit continue its unprecedented success year after year? Turnbull described a combination of ingredients:

• Many athletes train year-round to stay strong. Even distance runners hit the weight room and focus on speed work on the track, while logging the mileage to build endurance on their own.

• Summit boasts 18 coaches on its staff, making for about eight or nine athletes per coach for more individualized attention.

• The Storm make practices fun, warming up as a group with Zumba (a popular dance-fitness program) at the start of each practice.

• Turnbull and other coaches encourage athletes involved in fall and winter sports to turn out for track and field in the spring.

The result is a huge, healthy program that gets better nearly every season.

“They’ve now created an energy, enthusiasm, and expectation amongst themselves that they have to top the previous year,” Turnbull said.

While the Storm have a pile of state trophies, they do not have the market cornered on track talent in Central Oregon.

At Bend High, coach Kyle Will said he is “very excited” about his team this season. The Lava Bears lost a few talented athletes to graduation, but many return.

Senior Joel Johnson is a returning state qualifier in the pole vault who also plans to compete in the javelin. Senior Camden Stoddard is another returning pole vaulter who qualified for state; he will also compete in the high jump. Sprinter Braden Bell, yet another senior, will lead the Bears in the 100, 200 and 4x100.

Sophomore Caleb Hoffmann finished fifth in the 800 last year at state, and he hopes to add the 1,500 this season, according to Will.

For the Bend girls, Macey Burgess is the top returning sprinter, a senior who will take part in the 100, 200, and both relays.

Sophomore Sophia Cunningham has shown promise in the 400, said Will, and junior Alexa Evert is a two-time state qualifier in the 100 hurdles.

The Mountain View boys this season are looking to build on the strength of their middle-distance runners, hurdlers, jumpers and throwers, according to coach Andy Young.

Junior Dantly Wilcox placed fifth at state last year in the 110-meter hurdles, and senior Blake Knirk qualified for state in the discus. Junior Gabe Wyllie and senior Sam King will lead a strong contingent of 400- and 800-meter runners for the Cougars, and they are hoping to return with a state-qualifying 4x400 team.

The Mountain View girls team is led by distance runners, sprinters and jumpers and includes a talented freshman class with much potential, according to Young.

Junior 400-meter runner Briana Bolster is the Cougars’ lone returning state competitor. Kristen Place, also a junior, is a heptathlete in the making and will contribute to the team in numerous events, Young noted. Senior Jill Roshak narrowly missed qualifying for state last year in the high jump.

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected. In the original story, Caleb Hoffmann’s place in the state finals was incorrect. The Bulletin regrets the error.

—Reporter: 541-383-0318 or mmorical@bendbulletin.com

Click to continue...
This image is copyrighted.