Marin county track and field sets high expectations with first meet


Not a ray of sunshine broke through the overcast sky at Drake’s annual William (Bill) Taylor track and field festival this Saturday, March 7. The gloomy weather, however, inaccurately set the tone for the friendly competition between Marin schools. 

William (Bill) Taylor, the well loved Drake coach, now retired, started the meet as an initiation into the Marin County track and field season close to 20 years ago. Terra Linda, San Marin, Tam, Redwood, Marin Catholic, Branson, San Rafael, and Novato congregate at Drake’s home turf each year to gain a feeling of the exciting season to come. This year, however, Branson and San Rafael did not show. 

Traditionally, the meet kicks off with the Greek derived tradition of releasing birds into the air, but this year they presented olive branches to two choice players from each school.

Seniors Jeanette West and Amir Barkan were chosen as Drake’s reciprocates. 

“They were two seniors that we felt really represented the team,” said assistant coach Russ Knudsen.

Following the ceremony, the athletes dispersed to their various field events, and the first track event, the 4×100 meters, began their warm-up. 

As a result of three injured team members, the girls 4×100 did not compete. However, a strong boys team presented themselves: sophomore Max Henzl, junior Jackson Grehan, junior Miles Crock, and sophomore Neil Karlinski. 

“We’ve been practicing our handoffs all week. This is our first time racing together. I’m excited,” said Henzl.

Karlinsky had an impressive start with a great handoff to Henzl, but with losing some ground in the second and third handoffs, they still earned 3rd place with a time of 45.93 seconds, a little more than second behind Marin Catholic’s first place.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Bill Taylor meet is that most of the events are unusual distances. For instance, the 100-meter hurdles become the 65-meter hurdles, and the 800-meter run becomes the 600-meter run. 

Following the 4×100 was the longest race of the meet, the 3000-meter, pushing the endurance runners to their limits. Junior Kyla Seeley and first-time competitors, seniors Isa Ferris and Kate Harges, competed among the only heat of girls. 

“This is our first time ever racing. We’re like freshman seniors,” joked Ferris. 

In a competitive race between the top pack of four girls Helena Janku (Redwood), Shyla Lensing (Redwood), Kyla Seeley, and Summer Soloman (Tamalpais), Seeley placed third with an 11:32.14. Ferris was right behind the front pack for all seven and a half laps. She finished fifth with a time of 11:49.76 minutes, and Harges placed tenth with 12:41.41 minutes.

One of the most exciting races of the day was the boys 600-meter run. Crowded with some of the county’s best runners, the first heat saw some impressive times from Drake’s self-proclaimed “Yeastie-boys.” 

With the loud BANG! of the gun, the boys set a high pace in the first hundred meters or so. Redwood junior Jackson Moseley set himself a few strides in front of the pack. The audience could not take their eyes off Moseley as his pace seemed eager for two and a half laps. He remained in front until the last 200 meters when Barkan and senior Owen Wolford began to pull ahead. The crowd knew from the start, though, that Barkan would win this race, acknowledging his speedy track record. Wolford triumphantly fell into the finish line with second place, one tenth of second ahead of third. 

The Yeastie-boys did well for themselves in the 600-meter run with places first, second, fifth, sixth, and 12th. 

Other Drake wins of the day included a 10.03 second 65-meter hurdles from senior Petra Boyd as well as taking the 210 meter hurdles. Crock won his event with a 37.03-second 300-meter dash. 

With a personal record of 11.78, Henzl took third place in the 100-meter dash. 

Placing second in the girls’ shot put was West with 26-03.00. She also placed second in discus with 94-04. 

On the boys’ side of the throws, senior Milo Braun threw a second-place shot put of 38 feet and 2 inches. Additionally, his high jump of 5-08.00 tied him for first place. 

Recently, Drake’s high jump team has seen a spike in female participants. The girls are now working to spread out their talents due to a small team. Between five Drake girls, they tied for places nine, twelve, and fifteen. 

As it is just the beginning of the season, “the girls look forward to improving their heights,” said high jump coach Mike Kelemen. 

This strive for improvement fits the overall attitude of Drake girls’ track this year. Their main goal is to win as many events as possible at each meet, hopefully propelling them to place at least third at MCAL’s. Although tough, this goal is realistic as Drake girls’ track has the top track and field members in the county, from hurdler Melissa Auchard to long-jumper Sophia Calegari. 

The boys’ team is looking particularly strong this 2020 season. This Saturday’s times prove that Marin County will witness a spectacular year from Drake boys’ track and field.