Sports

Cougars, Walker looking to hurdle competition

Central Kitsap sophomore Shannon Moskowitz, already known for her distance running through CK’s cross country team, will throw primarily for the Cougars track and field squad. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Central Kitsap sophomore Shannon Moskowitz, already known for her distance running through CK’s cross country team, will throw primarily for the Cougars track and field squad.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

By AARON MANAGHAN

Sports editor

Entering his 16th year as track coach at Central Kitsap, Mark Ward is always excited for the start of the season. But that excitement’s been dampened a little this year.

“I think we’ll be more excited when it’s not snowing,” Ward joked.

But weather aside, Ward said his Cougars are looking forward to the 2008 season. Even after being on the track for 16 years, the joys of coaching never get old.

“Weekly improvement,” Ward said when asked what he enjoys most about the season’s start. “Seeing the time changes, seeing the faces of kids when they set personal records.”

And that’s something he hopes to see a lot more of this year.

With 80 athletes out, about 50 on the boys side and 30 on the girls, Ward said CK will have a nice mix of depth and experience, bringing back a large core of sophomores from last season while adding another large group this year.

“It’s always a good thing,” he said. “It always gives you a foundation to build on.”

Returning for the boys team this year is sprinter and hurdler Sean Walker, who hopes to build on last season’s seventh-place finish at the 4A WIAA State Track & Field Championships.

“He’s doing pretty well,” Ward said. “He’s got a slight hamstring injury right now.”

But that hasn’t slowed him down too much, especially with spring break to rest up.

“He’s run faster already than he ran until well after spring break last year,” Ward said. “He’s worked really hard in the offseason.”

Rustin Winger and Cascade Herriott return to anchor the distance core. Robbin Harris is back as the team’s top jumper and Brandon Salley will again be a top thrower. Harris is slowly building back up, Ward said, after an offseason bout with mono left him with a substantial amount of weight loss. Salley has already set a new personal record for himself at the Kitsap County Classic.

Now the Cougars add to that already talented mix.

One newcomer who figures to make an impact is distance runner Shane Moskowitz who’s already ran the fastest league time this season in the 3,200-meter race and is second in the 1,600.

Sprinter Scott MacLennan, a senior competing for the first time, also will factor in, Ward said.

“That’s a little tough,” MacLennan said. “But he’s stepping in and doing a nice job for us.”

Thrower Connor Chesser is another key newbie.

“It’s a nice blend of really all areas,” Ward said of the boys team. “The new kids are adding well to it.”

But that’s just the start, as CK’s girls might be more well-rounded even if they lack the “star power” of the boys.

“In terms of an actual team, our girls are actually a much stronger team than our boys,” Ward said.

Sam Sudy and Allie Rue are the top sprinters.

“They both went to districts last year as individuals and in relays,” Ward said. “Allie, she’s been battling some minor injuries as well. But we’re being smart with her.”

With Rue trying out the long jump this year as well as focusing on the 200 and possibly 400, Ward said he’s most excited to see how his 1,600 relay does. Right now a combination of four runners figures to emerge from Sudy, Rue, Shannon Moskowitz, Kate Berni, Danae Jergenson and Tina Woldberg.

“I think we have a chance of breaking a school record there,” Ward said of the relay. “It’s exciting. And the nice thing is, all the girls on that team have also been (800 relay) runners as well. You can really see their focus shifting to the (1,600). Not just to get to state but possibly to bring back some hardware.”

Maggie Crow and Brittany Siegrist are back as distance runners. Ward said he’s particulary hopeful Crow can put together a strong season after injuries plagued her most of 2007.

“They’ve put in a lot of good hard work in the offseason,” he said.

Lindsey Hart is the team’s top returning jumper, while Emily Bennett returns throwing.

“She was just starting to hit her stride at league last year,” Ward said of Bennett. “I really think she would have uncurled a great personal record in the javelin. Going into her last throw, I asked her to try one small adjustment. She uncurled one 10 or 15 feet longer. She was so excited, she started walking after it and fouled.”

They’ll be joined by a host of newcomers this season, beginning with sprinter and long jumper Rebekah Daniel. Brianna Haskill comes on as a high jumper, and Shannon Moskowitz also will have a big impact throwing. Ward said Moskowitz, a top cross country runner, is enjoying mixing things up.

“I would hope so,” he said. “And she’s not doing any distance stuff this spring. It’s kind of giving her body a break. And hopefully her mind as well. She’s enjoying something else.”

With the Narrows League again one of the toughest in the state, as evidenced by Gig Harbor’s sweep of the 4A state titles last year, Ward said his squad should be competitive.

“Team-wise, I think we’ll probably be middle-of-the-road on both sides,” he said. “The Narrows League has always been so strong. You know that when you get to state, the kids that get out of our league and district that make it to state, it’s really rare to not score a point in something. They’re the best of the best if you will.”

But for now, the goal remains the same.

“We’ll just see how we match up,” Ward said. “Our focus remains on getting personal records every week and let winning and losing sort itself out.”

The Cougars return from break Wednesday, April 9 with a trip to Lincoln in Tacoma.

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