Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Managing Editor 

Blackhawk boys aren't looking to tie for state title again

Cheney edged for first by 4A Ferris at Dolphin Invitational

 

March 22, 2018



For their first meet of the season, the Cheney boys track and field team’s second-place finish at Saturday’s Dolphin Invitational at West Valley in Millwood was pretty darn good. Third-year head coach Derek Slaughter goes one better than “good.”

“Three points away from (beating Ferris High School) is doing pretty darn great,” he said. “Those three points are there, they just didn’t show up in the (score) sheet.”

The Blackhawks were just shy of besting the 4A classification Saxons of the Greater Spokane League, finishing second by a 99.7 – 96.75 score. Cheney was well ahead of third-place Central Valley, as well as fellow Great Northern League opponents West Valley (fifth) and East Valley (eighth).

It’s a promising start for the team that tied for a 2A state title last season with Ridgefield High School. That team fielded 60 athletes.

Afterwards, Slaughter told his athletes if they wanted to do better, they needed to work hard in the off-season and go out and recruit some of their friends to the squad. They did both as Cheney’s team has ballooned to a record 94 boys.

“I had to hand out jersey’s from 1997,” Slaughter said of the number easily eclipsing his wardrobe supply.

The Blackhawks are the size of a small army, and it’s a talented and experienced army. Many competitors have been working with Slaughter since he began, and that starts with senior Charles Johnson in the sprints.

Johnson set school records with second-place finishes in the 100 and 200-meter dashes at state, and ran anchor on the champion 4x400 relay team. At the Dolphin he won both races and again helped lead the 4x400 team to victory.

The sprints are where Cheney is the strongest. Besides Johnson, senior Carson Brown grabbed a pair of seconds in the 200 and 400, with junior Jacob McGourin fourth, senior Peyton Putney sixth and junior Zach Jongeward ninth in the 100.

Senior Isaiah Dunn won the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 42.94 seconds, with senior Danny Boyd sixth. Boyd was third in the 110 hurdles.

Johnson, Dunn, Brown and senior Kevin Houndonougbo all return from the championship 4x400 team, winning at the Dolphin in what Slaughter called a “ridiculous” 3:29.94 — already just over four seconds from their state time. And they’ve got a challenge in Cheney’s “B” team of freshmen Dustin Butikofer, Kolton Shaw, Sawyer Swain and sophomore Charles Cindric, not quite 20 seconds back in 10th.

Cheney should also be strong in the field events this year. While Slaughter said the shot put is a work in progress, McGourin showed he can throw as well as run by taking second in the discus with a personal record toss of 150 feet, eight inches, with junior Andrew Rushing placing 10th at 119 feet.

Junior Ryan Reimer-Golden set a new PR of 144-08 for second in the javelin, with freshman Ryan Riekmann’s PR throw of 123-10.50 just outside the top-10 at 11th. Freshman Cole Omlin’s PR of 6-02 was good for second in the high jump, with junior Dawson West eighth and sophomore Parker Rogers’ 37-8.50 good for 10th in the triple jump.

And while Omlin did not score in the triple jump, Slaughter said he could have won the event as he scratched on a jump that was courtesy marked at 45 feet. Ferris senior Shamrock Campbell won with a leap of 45-08.

Slaughter said the distance events are where Cheney needs some work, having graduated a pair of scoring seniors in Drake Johnson and Matt Christianson. But he sees promise in junior Julian Torres in the 800 and 1,600, along with Tucker Cunningham in the 1,600 and 3,200.

Besides talent and experience, Slaughter sees other positive qualities he is fostering in his athletes taking shape, such as humility and team leadership. Track and field is about producing good athletes, but also “good men,” and Slaughter thinks he has those.

And while that translated into a team that made some noise at last year’s state meet, it also is a team looking for more.

“This year, we don’t want to tie,” Slaughter said.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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