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2012 Foothill League Boys Track and Field Preview: Catch them if you can

Canyon’s recent dominance will be tested by a strong Foothill field

Posted: March 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Canyon’s boys track and field team, from left, seniors Robert Hooper, Robert Wolfe and Lyndan Coleman, junior Brenden Stach, junior Drew Wolitarsky, junior Joel Estrada and junior Zach Wims, is going for a third Foothill League title in a row this year.

 

Through talent and depth, the Canyon boys have reasserted themselves as the program to beat over the past two seasons of Foothill League track and field.

Graduation losses, however, have brought the Cowboys back to the pack a little bit. Or maybe, it’s the pack that’s risen.

Canyon still has a strong stable of athletes, but there are potential landmines all over the league. Hart’s distance and field teams are formidable. Golden Valley’s distance team and jumpers are strong. The Saugus boys return some standouts, while West Ranch and Valencia are building as well.

Everybody has a strength. Therefore, the league itself is strong.

At this point, that league still belongs to Canyon.

Canyon

The stars at the top of their events aren’t as plentiful this season for the Cowboys.

“I think we’re a little younger than we were last year,” said head coach Paul Broneer. “Those seniors that we lost, they were good all four years. To lose them all at once, it’s hard to replace.”

Fortunately for the Cowboys, they’re more equipped than other programs to handle the losses.

The sprint group should be strong once again, with junior Drew Wolitarsky returning to the lead the group. Senior Max Archuleta and sophomore Dominic Pennucci are both back after helping the 4x100-meter relay team finish sixth in the state last year, although both are still recovering from knee injuries.

In the hurdles, junior Brenden Stach and senior Andre Beets will be on the of top tandems in the league, and senior Robert Wolfe will be among the league’s top pole vaulters.

Senior Lyndan Coleman will run the 200 and 400, and junior Zach Wims will lead the distance team.

Canyon won six straight league titles from 2002-2007 before being knocked off its perch in 2008 and 2009. There are five other teams looking to do the same thing this spring.

So the Cowboys have held tryouts and cut 65 kids – more than Broneer said he’s ever cut — to put together the best team possible to battle the opposition.

“We’ve got the cream of the crop,” Broneer said.

Hart

This year could be the culmination of four years’ worth of growth and development for the Hart boys.

“I had that conversation with a lot of the team at the beginning of the year,” said head coach Gio Guzman. “I said, ‘You juniors and seniors, your class brought a frosh/soph championship to this school. You have a chance to make waves in the Foothill League.’”

Guzman, a former star at Hart, takes over for longtime head coach Larry David, who is remaining with the program as an assistant coach.

This year’s team boasts talent and depth, especially in two areas. The distance team will be led by seniors Sam Peckham and Austin O’Neil, who finished third in the state in the mile during indoor track season. Both used a strong cross country season as a springboard into track.

Senior Riley Stauffer will be competitive in the sprints, and Tim White is the team’s best all-around athlete. White is the defending league champion in both the high jump and long jump, and he reached last season’s CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet in the high jump.

“It’s great to have multi-event guys like that,” Guzman said. “They can definitely score a lot of points, pick up points here and there.”

Guzman said the transition has been smooth, and he’s more than aware of the expectations surrounding the Hart boys this year.

“I really enjoy all the kids and everything, and it’s really good getting to know everyone,” he said.

Golden Valley


A big theme among Golden Valley track and field and cross country is building off successes.

Well, the state champion boys team sure gave the program a high target to shoot for.

“It makes them hungry for that success,” said co-head coach Chris Evans. “It gives them that confidence. We really do believe we can compete with anybody in the league.”

It’s hard to argue that point considering the talent the Grizzlies have coming back, especially in the distances and the jumps.
Seniors Kristian Martinez and Juan David Garcia, the top two runners on Golden Valley’s cross country team last fall, will anchor the distance team. As for the jumpers, senior Josef Lucien and junior Jonathan Tolentino will score points consistently.

Their strength is the triple jump, the event in which Lucien won a league title last season.

“They are very keyed into the event,” Evans said. “They’re ready to go. They want to go out there and compete against everybody in league.”

Seniors Patrick Giles and Aquil Yorke headline what should be a solid sprint squad, which will also benefit from the addition of freshman Aaron Kinard.

Golden Valley won’t benefit, however, from catching anyone by surprise. Those days are long gone.

“After the first year, everybody’s been ready for us,” Evans said. “The kids feel respected. People don’t take us lightly. They know that and they embrace that challenge.”

Saugus

While not as powerful as their female counterparts, the Saugus boys have turned the program into a consistent winner over the past few seasons.

This year should be no different, with several top talents returning.

“If it works right, it’ll be a very consistent, point-scoring team, and it should be in almost all areas,” said first-year head coach John McKenzie, who takes over for Christian Standley.

Seniors Jeremy Gatewood and Jon Lowe are back to pace the sprinters, with senior Quentin Hendrix providing depth in his first season in track and field.

Following an excellent cross country season, junior A.J. Yarnall will lead the distance group, which has benefitted from the record number of participants in the cross country program last season.

After missing last season due to injury, junior Denley Rodriguez will anchor the throws squad, which has produced some recent standouts.

Beyond that, McKenzie said he has a group of youngsters who can compete in several different events if need be.

“We have versatile talent,” he said. “It’s just how well we can compete at the top with the top studs in the league.”

Valencia

After having gone winless in league dual meets from 2008-2010, the rallying cry of last year’s Valencia squad was
“one win.”

The Vikings got that win by beating West Ranch. So what’s this year’s cry?

“When we had a team meeting, I made a comment about team goals for the season,” said head coach Jeff Gilkey.

“Somebody yelled out, ‘One win!’ And I said, ‘No, no, no. We really want to take it somewhere else this year.’”

Gilkey said that one of this year’s goals is to have a winning record during league competition. Senior Clint Gingrich will be important in that regard, as he returns to take part in the long jump and run the 400 and 800 races.

Senior James Deckers is the team’s top shot putter, while senior David Mori is the top distance runner.

On the whole, Gilkey said the program has benefitted from more football players coming out for track this year than the last three years combined. It’s indicative of the growing numbers in the program, which has led to competition for spots.

“It hard in some events to be No. 1 if there’s nobody even close to you pushing you,” Gilkey said.

West Ranch

With his athletes having gained a year of experience last season, West Ranch head coach Dave Saville said he has a well-rounded squad.

And the talent level starts with senior thrower Nick Bultman.

“He’s got natural talent,” Saville said. “He’s a great, studious athlete. He’s not one of those athletes who says, ‘I won league. I know it all.’ He constantly strives to better himself.”

Bultman won league titles in both the shot put and discus last season, and he broke the school record in both events at the CIF-Southern Section Division I prelims despite not advancing. He also had a strong indoor season that ended with a trip to the state meet this past January.

There are other key returners for the Wildcats, including junior sprinter Zahr Lyttle, senior hurdler Kevin Sweeney, junior distance runners Jeffrey Black and Pierce Miller, and junior hurdler Harrison White.

Saville added that his team’s depth has improved, which will be critical to winning a league dual meet after going 0-5 last season.

“We had a good amount of individual success last year, but we didn’t have a lot of depth,” he said.

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