Central boys defend Conference 35 track title

STRASBURG – Members of Central High School’s boys track and field team have felt all season long that they have something to prove this spring after losing a lot of manpower from last year’s group. The Falcons showed they’re still the team to beat in their conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Central piled up 104 points at the Conference 35 Track and Field Championships at Strasburg High School, besting runner-up Clarke County by 14 points to pick up its second straight conference championship.

Five different Falcons teamed up to accumulate championship medals in five events in the winning performance, including Kyle Clanton (100-meter dash, 4×400 relay), Saxon Franklin (300 hurdles, 4×400 relay), Coy Jimenez (400-meter dash, 4×400 relay), Sawyer Lucy-Speidel (3,200) and Carston Shockey (4×400 relay).

“As a group we always make it a point to show that just because we don’t have the same numbers that we had last year, we can still represent, we can still do what we did last year,” said Franklin, a senior who also placed second in the triple jump and third in the long jump. “We just do a lot more events individually. It just shows our team’s just resilient. We want it, and because we want it we’re gonna get it. I think that’s something that’s really respectable for going into the postseason, especially deep in the postseason, is all of us have busted our tails the entire year and we’re seeing the dividends. It’s satisfying.”

Strasburg (42 points), which placed fourth in the five-team meet, had the only dual champion between the two Shenandoah County schools in senior Ryan Day. He swept both throwing events for the Rams and added a gold medal in the high jump from sophomore Stephen Kloosterman (5-10, a meet record).

Clanton, a sophomore, gave Central its first individual title of the afternoon when he streaked to a winning time of 11.06 seconds in the 100-meter dash, setting a new meet record and edging out Jimenez, who placed second, by 0.11 seconds in the process.

Jimenez, who has gone back and forth against Clanton all season long, got even with his teammate in the 400 when he dashed to a time of 50.33 seconds to beat Clanton by 0.13 seconds. Jimenez broke his own conference record, which he set last season, with his winning time on Tuesday.

“This is my second time running the 400 this year,” Jimenez said, “and to go from a (personal record) last year of 51.23 to running, the second time I’ve run it this year, a 50.33, it’s great.”

Franklin avoided having to race against Strasburg’s Elijah Waters. Waters has already qualified for next week’s regional meet and sat out Tuesday as a precaution after working his way back from offseason knee surgery. Franklin won the 300 hurdles in a time of 43.10 seconds.

Lucy-Speidel ran a 10:42.59 in the 3,200-meter run to win his second straight conference title, and Carston Shockey, Franklin, Clanton and Jimenez teamed up to put the stamp on Central’s team title by setting a new meet record (3:30.52) in the 4×400 relay.

For Strasburg’s Day, Tuesday’s performance made good on his top seed in both of the boys’ throwing events. The senior won the shot put with a heave of 44 feet, 4 inches and followed with a winning throw in the discus of 145-06. Day set a new meet record in both events.

“I didn’t expect to perform that well in the shot put because my arm’s been really screwed up, but I threw pretty good. I haven’t thrown a shot in about a week,” said Day, who swept both events last season in the same meet.

“It was nice because when I broke my shot record, I broke my own record. It was pretty cool. And the disc, I did really good in the disc today. I was happy about that. The heat helped a lot, like staying loose and warm the whole time.”

Jimenez added a second-place effort in the discus for Central, and Clanton was the runner-up in the long jump. Also for the Falcons, William Ball placed second in the 110 hurdles, Declan Franklin was third in the discus, Shockey was third in the 400 and Mason Lucy-Speidel was third in the 1,600. Central’s 4×800 relay team (Shockey, Colin Bradley-Connolly, Sawyer Lucy-Speidel and Mason Lucy-Speidel) placed third.

“Going from a 50-60 person track team to like a 20-person track team is hard, but with the numbers that we have, even though they’re small we’re competitive and we’re really good,” Jimenez said. “All of us place and we’re just able to pull everything together.”

For Strasburg, Nathan Hershey was third in the 110 hurdles, and the Rams’ 4×100 relay team of Brandon Monse, Sam Shelton, Caden Williams and Patrick Curry placed third as well.

The top six individuals and the top three relays from each event automatically qualified for the Region 2A East meet at East Rockingham High School on May 25.

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