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Future of sports in the SCV: Promise runs deep

Highlighted by a sprinter, the future of the SCV’s running sports appears to be in safe hands

Posted: August 5, 2010 9:42 p.m.
Updated: August 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Some of the Santa Clarita Storm Track Club’s top youth runners are, front row, from left: Daniel Rush, Kaylee Schmidt, Adrianna Hill and Lauren Schenuk; back row: Jonathan Bay, Jonathan Summer and Cody Roelofson.

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The Santa Clarita Valley has a tradition of producing talented runners.

There appears to be more on the way – and one of them will be visible right away.

Freshman-to-be Asia Watts will attend Canyon High this fall, and her times in the 100-meter dash and the 200 are already comparable to the top varsity sprinters in the Foothill League, according to SCV Running Warriors Director John Molster.

Between the Warriors and the Santa Clarita Storm Club, plenty of athletes have already separated themselves with their abilities and work ethic.

Watts is one of those athletes. She won titles in the 100 and 4x100 relay at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics at the midget level (11- and 12-year-olds).

“I felt like I accomplished my dreams, and I’m looking forward to high school and accomplishing and improving those dreams as well,” she said.

Watts added that her goal is to become a 400 runners and reach the Junior Olympics again.

The secrets to her success, she noted, are simple.

“My parents have helped me a lot, and so has training,” Watts said. “My diet is really important.”

The Warriors have other strong runners on the way, too.

James Pledger and Kevin Stone are a pair of speedsters at the Bantam level (9- and 10-year-olds), and Pledger was the Ventura County Youth Track Conference champion in the 100 and 200 this year. Stone is the younger brother of current Canyon High standouts Kenny and Tiffini Stone.

“They’re just elite athletes,” Molster said. “At this age level, they’re hard workers and they’re coachable.”

Both Pledger and Stone were also members of the conference-champion 4x100 relay team, and Pledger competed at the National Junior Olympics this past weekend as a member of a 4x100 team.

Stone isn’t the only younger sibling of a prominent Foothill League track and field athlete coming up.

Abigail Frankian, who will join her older Karis at Saugus, competes in the youth girls division (13- and 14-year-olds) and is one of the top 1,500 and 3,000 runners in the conference, according to Molster.

Canyon High, meanwhile, will be getting a pair of standouts in Dominic Pennucci and Adam Driedger.

Pennucci, 14, will bolster the Cowboys already-strong sprint corps after winning the conference championship in the 100 this year. Driedger, who is also 14, will be joining his older brother Steven on the Canyon cross country team this fall, and he was also the conference champion in the 1,500 this past season.

The Storm have plenty of strong runners of their own.

One of them is 12-year-old Jonathan Bay, a member of Storm who participates in the 800-meter run, the 1,500 and the 3,000.

Bay consistently records some of the top times for Storm, including marks in the low 10-minute range in the 3,000. His performances are all the more remarkable considering he’s only in his second year of running.

“He’s another one of those kids that if you put someone in front of him, he’s going to give his best effort to be with them,” said Storm head coach Elaine Bingham.

Another one of the Storm’s top runners is 13-year-old Amelia Pear, who will attend Valencia High School and run track with her older sister Olivia.

Bingham said that Amelia was the top 800 and 1,500 runner this past season in the Valley Youth Conference, the organization in which Storm competes.

Amelia’s low times included a mark of 2 minutes, 30 seconds in the 800 and 5:07 in the 1,500.

“Her work ethic is something a coach always desires,” Bingham said.

The same could be said of 13-year-old Jonathan Summer and 12-year-old Cody Roelofson.

Summer will attend either Santa Clarita Christian or Valencia, while Roelofson will attend Valencia.

Both are specialists in the distance races, especially the 1,500.

“I like (the 1,500) just because I like running long distances, and not everyone can have a good time on it,” Roelofson said.

Ekaterina Hupalo has been posting plenty of good times for Storm in the 100, and the 10-year-old is also an elite long jumper for her age group.

Hupalo competed at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics this past weekend in Sacramento as a member of a 4x100 relay team.

Another versatile athlete for Storm is Dakota Lindsey, an 11-year-old who is excellent in the 1,500 and has demonstrated prowess in the long jump and sprints.

“Wherever you put her, she’s going to do her best,” Bingham said.

Bingham added that the top athletes in the gremlin level (7- and 8-year-olds) are Adrianna Hill and Lauren Schenuk, while Daniel Rush and Kaylee Schmidt are among the top athletes heading into bantam.

For Warriors, Molster said that Jacqueline Morrison and Emma Allen are the gremlin standouts, and both compete in long jump.

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