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TRACK PREVIEW '10: Golden opportunity at Kent-Meridian
He’s trying to keep things in perspective.
But it’s hard to fault Kent-Meridian track and field coach Ernie Ammons if he comes off as sounding just a bit giddy these days. The fact is, Ammons is excited. And understandably so as Kent-Meridian is fielding possibly its finest boys track and field team of the decade. A team that is as deep as it is talented.
“I am trying to keep it all in and be humble, but I also want to be optimistic,” a subdued Ammons explained. “We have to get through grade checks and injuries ... but if we keep maintaining how we are we’ll be really tough come postseason.”
Which might be the understatement of the track season thus far.
The Royals don’t only have a chance to be “tough” come postseason, they have a chance to do something no other Kent-Meridian boys track team has ever done — win a state team title. The Royals finished a program-best last year, tying with Central Kitsap and Beamer High of Federal Way for second place at state.
Federal Way is again loaded and expected to challenge for the state team title, but so are the Royals. The only athlete Kent-Meridian graduated from last year’s team who scored points at the state meet is thrower Marlowe Brim, who took fourth in the shot put.
Winning a state team title?
It could happen.
“That team is so loaded,” said Kentwood coach Steve Roche of the Royals. “In my mind, it’s going to be Kent-Meridian or Federal Way (for the state title).”
A South Puget Sound League North Division title is first on the agenda. At 7-1, the Royals finished second to Federal Way last spring. It was their second consecutive one-loss season and third second-place finish of the decade.
The time is now for the Royals.
“This is definitely the hands-down best team I’ve ever had,” said Ammons, who now is in his seventh season with the program.
A glance down the current state leader board on the track and field Web site www.athletic.net reveals plenty about this season’s Kent-Meridian team. Entering the week, K-M burner B.J. Arceneaux ranked fourth in the state overall in the 100-meter (11.08) and was sixth in the 200-meter (11.16). Teammate David Jones isn’t far behind in the 100-meter dash, ranking ninth (11.16) while junior Derrick Daigre, who won the state title in the 800-meter last spring, currently ranks third in the event (1:57.06).
But that’s not all. In fact, with this year’s K-M team, it’s just the tip of the iceberg as Brandon Harris (ninth in the long jump), Louis Garman (sixth in the triple jump) and Keenan Komoto (pole vault) also have cracked the top 10.
Meanwhile, K-M also returns two of the fastest relay teams in the state (4 x 100 and 4 x 400). The two teams include a combination of Arceneaux, Jones, Harris, Daigre and Prescott Jackson.
“We want to talk about state titles, but we want to get through league, district first and get as many bodies to state as we can,” Ammons said. “It’s tough. We like to keep things in perspective. It’s a challenge because we’re sitting on a gold mine. It really has to be one of those things where we have to take baby steps. Last year, we were just trying to shoot for that league title. We just really came alive and woke up at the state meet.”
But the Royals aren’t all about who’s returning. As the Royals’ luck has gone this season, a couple of new faces also showed up during the first day of tryouts who already have made an impact — senior Jordan Thompson-Walker and freshman phenom Abu Kamara. Kamara, a long and lean hurdler already has enjoyed his share of success on the track this spring and could make an impact at state, Ammons said.
“He’s amazing,” Ammons said. “He just gets better and better every day. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll be at state. He’s already top 10 as a freshman in the hurdles.”
Then there’s Thompson-Walker, a standout on the K-M basketball floor who flashes all the athletic tools to excel on the track.
“(Thompson-Walker) is a talent,” Ammons said.
A talent that fits right in with a fast and deep K-M team ready to surge past last year’s performance.
For now, however, Ammons wants to keep things in perspective.
“It’s all a numbers game right now. Who can stay healthy? And who can show up when it counts?” he said.