Grant could put on a show

Prep Watch

Grant is starting to show its usual depth in track and field, especially on the boys team.

The Generals go into today's Cotton Invitational with the fastest 4x400-meter relay time in the state and a host of jumpers, runners and vaulters who should pile up points at the PIL 6A district meet May 8 and May 10 at Lincoln.

Grant will host Beaverton, Reynolds, Lake Oswego, Tigard and Hillsboro at 4 p.m. today. The meet is named after former Grant coach Mark Cotton, whose son, Greg, has followed in his footsteps.

Top performers this season for Grant (with their best individual events in parentheses) include sophomore and top scholar-athlete Karl Acker (sprints), junior Branden Shimada (hurdles), senior Will Goodling (800, 1,500), junior Nathan Knutson (1,500, 3,000), junior Paul McCoy (triple jump, long jump), senior Vernell Warren (high jump) and senior McCullough Crawford (javelin, discus).

The unsung Shimada is 'a hidden gem,' coach Greg Cotton says, with the versatility to compete in everything from the 100 to 800. The 300 intermediate hurdles and 4x400 relay are where he has shined the most, though.

The 6-2, 220-pound Crawford, who never played football for Grant, is a 'good student and good technician in the throws,' Cotton says.

Goodling was second team all-state as a soccer midfielder. Warren is a standout shortstop and pitcher on the Grant baseball team.

In the pole vault, Grant has the top four vaulters in the league this season. Junior Greg Zadniproskiy has cleared 13-9, senior Cal Rosenberg has gone over 13-7, senior Wilson Bailey has made 13-0 and sophomore Charlie Childress and two others in PIL 6A have cleared 11-6. Bailey went 13-5 last year.

'They all work together,' Cotton says.

Zadniproskiy was the first to bring down Cotton's Grant High record of 13-6. Then Rosenberg bettered his coach's personal best from his prep days. 'Now Wilson's trying to knock me down farther on the list,' Cotton says.

Shimada, senior Ben MacCormack-Gellese, Goodling and Acker have run the 4x400 in 3 minutes, 25.50 seconds. Seniors Kasseem Osheroff and Isaiah Buchanan, McCoy and Acker are in the 4x100. The lineups could change, and the competition should be fierce, because Benson and Lincoln also are strong in both relays.

Grant's depth shows up in the jumps, too. Seniors Scott Russell and Ryan Hall could place high in the district meet in the long and triple, backing up McCoy, who soared 43-8 last week in his first triple jump of the season, even without having done any event drills. McCoy and Lincoln senior Elvis Akpla should have a great district-meet duel in both jumps (Akpla already has gone 22-7 and 47-0 1/5), and Benson senior Jamarian Malley is at 21-11 in early-season long jumping.

• The Grant girls are strongest on the track, although they easily could send some field-event specialists to state. Senior pole vaulter Diana Martin, freshman long jumper Kayla Greer and junior triple jumper Monique Shellmire head the list.

The most accomplished girls track athlete is senior Sara Wild, who stars in the 800, 1,500 and 4x400 relay. She has a state-best 2:15.97 in the 800 this year. An all-state soccer player, she plans to attend Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., and possibly compete in both sports.

Juniors Christene Jones and Anaiah Rhodes are looking to score points at district in the short races, with Jones maybe contending in the 400.