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Weather toughened – JFK, Silverton track getting in gear

James Day

The Silverton and Kennedy track and field programs have battled through weather adversity this spring and seem primed to make strong runs in the second half of the season.

“We are pleased with our very young team,” said Erik Cross, who is in his 26th year leading the Foxes, including a state Class 5A boys team title a year ago. “Over a third are 9th graders and with 45 seniors graduating last year, we were concerned about leadership, but some juniors and seniors have stepped into that role nicely. We’re ready to have some drier, warmer weather after last year’s very wet, cold season and more than a few days of miserable conditions in March and the first part of April.” 

Key boys include Steeley Mucken, whose 10.97 100 leads Class 5A. Just the second Foxes sprinter to break 11 seconds, he also is No. 4 in the 200 and No. 3 in the javelin. Joel Rush, second in the state in the pole vault in 2022, has worked through his current pole and is hoping to go to another level with a larger one. 

Among the girls Kirsten Kuenzi leads with her 100 and 200 times, 13.03 and 27.16, respectively. She also anchors a league-leading 4×100 relay team and has a long jump mark of 16-0.25. Madison Stackpole continues to improve and hone her skills in the shot put and discus and Lauren Ortega has made a huge improvement already from last year, setting personal bests in the 1,500 and 800. 

Kennedy coach Steve Ritchie is in his 26th season and told Our Town “this year has been a little tough on all of us – the rain, the cold and especially the cold wind we have nearly every day at the track. We have a pretty young team and it has hampered our practices. Tough to pole vault or high jump or throw the discus in this weather.”

Ritchie sees a lot of room for growth on this year’s squad. Sophomore discus thrower Tia Allen has been throwing 100 to 120 consistently in practice. The boys 4×4 relay was 6th at state last year and they are hoping for better this year. Their time will drop, Ritchie says, when the weather warms up. Junior distance runner Johnathan Kintz who has never done track before “is still figuring out a lot of stuff.” His 800 time of 2:14.27 ranks 13th in Class 2A. 

Softball: Veteran Foxes coach Ralph Cortez keeps building contenders, but the squad keeps running up against Mid-Willamette Conference power Dallas. The Foxes went to Dallas on Monday, April 24 and fell 3-0 to the Dragons, with Clara Woolsey’s two-run homer the key blow. The loss, the first of the league season for the Foxes, dropped No. 3 Silverton to 5-1 in league play. Dallas, which also includes players from Perrydale, is 7-0.

Dallas has won its past 12 against Silverton, including a Class 5A quarterfinal last year and a semifinal in 2017. The Foxes last beat the Dragons on May 13, 2016. The two squads play again on the final day of the league season on May 15.

Kennedy, meanwhile, is 6-2 overall and 5-0 in Special District 2 of Class 2A-1A. The Trojans and No. 2 Blanchet are the lone league unbeatens. The Trojans and Cavaliers don’t tangle until May 13 and May 16.

Baseball: Defending Class 2A-1A state champion Kennedy is 16-0 overall, 7-0 in Special District 2 and has outscored opponents 152-17. St. Paul is the lone other unbeaten in the league. The Trojans and the No. 3 Buckaroos play a 3-game series May 8, 10 and 12.

Silverton, meanwhile, is 6-11 overall and 4-5 in the Mid-Willamette. The Foxes are tied with Central for 6th and need to get into the top 4 to guarantee a Class 5A playoff berth.

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