Trojans low on numbers, not on talent

Olympic’s Larry Dixon finished first in the 200-meter dash in his heat in the event Bremerton’s Alex Griffin won at the Kitsap County Classic on March 15.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
Olympic’s Larry Dixon finished first in the 200-meter dash in his heat in the event Bremerton’s Alex Griffin won at the Kitsap County Classic on March 15.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals


Sports editor

The Olympic Trojans have talented track athletes this year. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough of them.

After 75 students showed interest in the fall, just 55-60 showed up for tryouts. Now that number has dwindled down to 42 (just 12 for the girls).

“Our girls, we’ve always had a tough time with the girls,” Olympic coach Greg Chapman said. “But this is worse than we’ve ever had it I think.”

So while Chapman is encouraged about a number of individuals, he knows realistically the Trojans will be unlikely to compete at the team level as they did last year in taking second place in the Olympic League for boys competitors.

“We have some great talent, but we’re just so thin,” Chapman said. “We’re not going to score a lot of team points. But we’re certainly gonna have some fun.”

With the track season just a handful of meets underway, Chapman is optimistic about what the team does have. And with numbers on their side, the boys team will again have the most to watch this spring, starting with newcomer Larry Dixon, who fired the shot put 49 feet in his first high school competition, the Kitsap County Classic two weeks ago.

“He’s a fast 100- and 200-meter runner also,” Chapman said.

Junior Nollan Quinn joins the team as a sprinter, as does Rodel Abrigo, who is working on the javelin in addition to running.

“He’s a small kid,” Chapman said. “And he’s already throwing 114 feet. The kid’s pole is three times longer than he is.”

Darrious Walker is among the top sophomore sprinters, while fellow sophomore John Wojtech deepens an already strong core of distance runners.

That core of distance runners will be the strength on the boys side, led by returners Johnathan Bergman, Brent Groulik, Travis Ottelle and Brenden Schruhl.

“We have a crew of distance guys,” Chapman said of his cross-country holdovers. “We did really well at distance last year. We have a lot of guys to choose from.”

Tao Smith returns as one of the team’s sprinters, while Travis Quinn is back as the team’s primary hurdler. Derek Orn also returns as the top boys thrower.

On the girls side, Pepper Fanua, a senior newcomer, bolsters the team in sprints and throwing, while Brooke Jordan, a sophomore, will step into the 300-meter hurdles.

“She ran really well this last Saturday,” Chapman said of her mark at the Bremerton Relays. “I think if I can convince her to do more training, she can push that 50-second mark.”

After qualifying for state last season in the long jump, Samantha Brewer returns to lead the Oly girls. While she’ll also compete in some sprint events, the team will likely not field a relay team this season due to lack of numbers.

“She’s disappointed because she likes to do the sprints too on the relay,” Chapman said. “It’ll have a good effect on her long jump. She’s a great team-oriented individual also.”

Jillian Lorena and Brianna Wells also return.

With so few girls turning out, Chapman said those who are competing will get the opportunity to try a number of events this year.

“It’s pretty easy. It’s wide open,” Chapman said. “Because of that, they may be the only person in an event. That helps them figure out what they want to do.”

While being shorthanded does impact the team — “When we miss a few players, it’s obvious,” Chapman said — most of the impact falls directly on the coaching staff.

“It’s a little disappointing on the coaching side when you don’t have enough kids,” Chapman said. “But we’re gonna do OK.”

The Trojans haven’t lingered on the losses this season. Rather, Chapman said they’re making out the best they can.

“We can’t worry about the ones that aren’t out,” he said. “We have to do the best with what we’ve got.”

So far, that plan’s been working for the Trojans.

“We have a lot of new kids doing quite well,” Chapman said. “We just don’t have a big base. The big thing is to have fun. But we’re on the serious side too.”

The Trojans host North Mason at 3:15 p.m. Friday before traveling to the Kent Meridian Invitational Saturday.

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