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Lakeridge boys track team holds promise

No longer can an opponent expect to knock off the Lakeridge boys track team. In fact, this year's squad might be good enough, and deep enough, to win next month's district meet.

It's probably unfair to put that kind of pressure on a team that hasn't experienced much success in the recent past. But this year's team simply has too much talent to ignore.

To be fair, Lakeridge had a good team last year - good enough to finish ninth at the state meet. But it was a top-heavy team that qualified just three athletes for the final meet of the year. This year, the Pacers could send two or three times that many, including a short relay team that is ranked third in the state.

'In the six years that I've been here (as a coach), I think this is the most well-rounded team we've had,' Lakeridge coach Cam Reynolds said earlier this week.

The Pacers are very strong in the sprints with sophomore Billy Mitchell and juniors Zach Young and Robbie Kool. Coming into the week, Mitchell was ranked second in the Three Rivers League in the 100-meter dash and third in the 200. Young was ranked eighth in both events and Kool was ninth in the 100.

Then there's junior speedster Travis Dunn, who's ranked No. 2 in the 300 hurdles. In addition to running the hurdles, Dunn joined forces with Mitchell, Young and Kool to form an almost unbeatable 4-by-100 relay team.

That foursome combined for a blistering 43.01 time in the East County Classic last Friday at Mt. Hood Community College. That's easily within reach of the school-record mark of 42.84, which was set in 1981.

'They've got a good shot at breaking that mark,' Reynolds said.

Maybe even more impressive is the fact that the Lakeridge relay squad is nearly 1.5 seconds faster than the league's No. 2 team, Putnam, which features the state's top sprinter - Joevonte Mayes.

The Pacers also will be very strong in the distance races, where junior Dave Marks is the team's star. He qualified for state in the 3,000 meters at last year's district meet and wound up with a fifth-place finish.

'Now he knows what it takes (to finish high) at state,' Reynolds said of Marks.

The Pacers' one Achilles heel might be in the field events. But they'll be solid in the shot put, where senior Taylor Young has the league's third-best mark, and in the discus, where senior Zach Karr also is ranked No. 3.

In addition, Taylor Young is threatening to become a force in the long jump even though it's a relatively new event for him. Plus, Dunn is on the verge of eclipsing 40 feet in the triple jump.

The biggest question will be whether Lakeridge will have enough depth to knock off the likes of Clackamas, Oregon City and Putnam at the district meet.

'It's tough drawing the numbers (for track),' Reynolds said, 'because we're so good in other sports … but this is going to be a fun team to watch.

'And it's nice some of the guys are (realizing) the rewards from their hard work … It's been a long time coming.'