Central’s Jimenez streaks to trio of titles in Conference 35 meet

STRASBURG – Central High School’s Coy Jimenez felt good – really good – prior to the start of Tuesday’s Conference 35 Track and Field Championships at Strasburg High School. And once the meet started, he looked really good too.

The sophomore speedster streaked to a trio of individual conference championships by sweeping all three sprinting events, as he won titles in the boys 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes during the five-team meet.

“It feels pretty good. Just knowing that I’m on top, it really makes me focused on being even better than just this county,” Jimenez said. “Even though I am, at the moment, the best sprinter in the county, I wanna be the best sprinter in the next county and the next county. I wanna work up to maybe even go to college or something.”

Jimenez totaled 26 points for Central’s boys, who continued their strong 2016 season with the Conference 35 team championship on Tuesday. The Falcons, who also got individual championship performances from senior Wyatt Robinson (1,600-meter, 4:41.61), junior Sawyer Lucy-Speidel (3,200-meter, state-qualifying 10:28.14) and freshman Kyle Clanton (long jump, 19-08), finished with 112 points, easily pulling away from second-place Clarke County (78) and Strasburg (52).

Central’s girls placed third with 54 points, just ahead of Strasburg (48) and behind runaway winner George Mason (141) and Clarke County (58).

“It was a good day,” Falcons coach Rick Lytton said. “We had talked about the postseason meets, how important they were, and I told them, you don’t wanna be seventh or eighth, you wanna be sixth because then you get to go to the regional meet. And a lot of them stepped up, some kids that we needed to step up.”

Jimenez, who added a fourth-place effort in the boys discus, seized his first title in the 100-meter dash with a winning time of 11.40 seconds. He followed that by matching his best time in the 400 (51.23) before setting a new personal record in the 200 (22.96) to end his day.

“I think the 200 pushed me, because I wanted to break 23 and I was really, really tired coming off that 400,” Jimenez said. “Just pushed to the end and I got it by a little bit.”

The Central sophomore wasn’t the only local athlete to win multiple conference championships on Tuesday – Strasburg juniors Ryan Day and Elijah Waters each won a pair of titles by sweeping the boys throws and hurdle events, respectively.

Day – who has been putting in extra work over the weekends with Rams assistant Michael Mellish, said head coach Emily Brandon – started his day by winning the shot put with a throw of 43 feet, 2 inches. Riding that momentum, he also won the discus with a championship heave of 129-07, a personal best.

Day, the top seed in the shot entering the meet, said he wasn’t expecting to take home championship medals in both throwing events on Tuesday.

“With the rain and the conditions and stuff like that, I wasn’t sure. But a good day in shot gave more motivation for disc,” Day said.

“The thing that I’ve been working on in practice like the last week, my release has been bad. Coach has me tweaking the disc a little bit, keeping the outside edge down. I worked on that and it helped me a lot.”

Waters broke both of his conference meet records that he set last season, as he won the 110 high hurdles in 15.41 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 41.75. He said both races – during which he was pushed by a friendly rivalry with Central’s Donovan Armstrong, Phillip Dysart and Daniel George, who finished second, third and fourth in both hurdle events, respectively – offered a chance to work on some tweaks in his technique.

“I’ve been working on my arms because if you look at the pictures I kind of flail a little bit, so we’ve just been trying to work on my arms a lot,” Waters said.

“It’s nice to beat your own record, because it’s like obviously you’ve improved. … Knowing that my (personal record) is a lot better than it was last year, it’s just a huge confidence booster going into the postseason.”

Strasburg’s girls got a championship performance from senior Rachel Funkhouser in the discus (110-02) – she added a second-place finish in the shot put – while sophomore Grace Davis continued to shine for the Rams.

Davis won the girls 200 (27.93), was second in both the long jump and triple jump, third in the 100 and made a determined push during the final leg of Strasburg’s 4×100 relay to vault the Rams into a third-place finish and a regional qualification.

“Grace really stepped up today in all her events,” Brandon said.

“We got a lot of kids qualified (for the regional meet) today and we’re excited to see where our new PR’s for today will put us in the rankings. I think we can do some big things next week.”

Central freshman Tycara Scott – filling in for her older sister, Tamra – won the girls shot put with a toss of 33-03.00, highlighting a strong showing for the Falcons in the girls field events. Kila Watson was second in the discus and third in the shot; Casey Rubenstein was fourth in both throwing events; Cianne Fields was third in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump; and Brooke Ryman was third in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump.

“Those girls, they just work so hard and they’re good friends and everything, and they cheer one another on,” Lytton said. “The whole track team is enjoying what is going on now.”

Central’s boys 4×400 relay team, which featured seniors A.J. Crider and Tru Bowen filling in alongside usual members Robinson and Carston Shockey, won with a time of 3:40.07.

Clanton also finished second in the boys 100 for the Falcons, while Saxon Franklin was second in the long jump. Shockey was fourth in the 200, Mason Lucy-Speidel was fourth in the 1,600 and Jacob Kimble was fourth in the 3,200. The Falcons’ 4×800 and 4×100 relays placed second and third, respectively. Monica Martinez was third in the girls 3,200, Mikayla Helsley was third in the 300 hurdles and Carly Boyce was fourth in the 200.

Strasburg’s Josh Runion was third in both boys throwing events, while Rams senior Miley Hupp was third in the girls discus. Jacob Rodriguez was third in the boys 3,200, while the Rams’ boys 4×800 relay team also placed third.

The top six individuals and top three relay teams automatically qualified for the Region 2A East Championships, which will be held next Wednesday at East Rockingham High School.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com