Brian Burt out of Eastmont High School in East Wenatchee Washington recently signed with the Lane Titans. Brian won the Washington State 4A Long Jump Title this past season with a 23’06” jump. He also boasts a 10.88 100m personal best.
EUGENE, Ore.— Lane Community College is proud to be the official practice facility for the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships. The level of activity so far has been intense, says Division Dean Chris Hawken, with several hundred athletes visiting Lane each day.
Lane’s track and field also served as the official practice site for the summer 2012 Olympic Trials. State high schools use Lane facilities annually for statewide track and field championships.
During the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships from July 19-27, Lane’s track is closed to usual use by Lane students and staff.
Titans sign USA Junior National Athlete Ben Kelly. Ben is a sprinter from Hanford High School in Richland Washington. He has run personal bests of 10.69 and 21.50 for the 100m and 200m respectively.
Lane’s Hightower is Ninth at USA Nationals
Lane Freshman Dakarai Hightower placed 9th in the men’s high jump on Saturday at the USATF National Championships in Sacramento. Dakarai cleared his opening height of 7’00.5 on his first jump, and went on to clear 7’-02.5” on his second attempt. While he was unable to make the next bar of 7’04.5”, coach Grady O’Connor was very pleased with his performance, “Dakarai competed beyond his years (19 yrs.) in his first experience on the national stage, he showed great composure throughout.” The eventual winner was 2012 Olympic silver medalist, Erik Kynard.
By Howie Stalwick
For The Register-Guard
The Lane Titans high jumper, an NCAA Division-I star disguised in a junior college uniform, soared 7 feet, 3 1/4 inches — a height that put him among the top-10 collegians at any level this year — to help the Titans sweep the team titles at the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Championships.
The Titans dominated the final day of the meet Tuesday, beating out longtime nemesis Spokane to win both team titles for the second straight year. It was Hightower’s performance, however, that left everyone buzzing at Spokane Falls Community College Stadium.
Hightower jumped 9 inches higher than his nearest rival in setting conference, meet, stadium, school and personal records. He’s tied for eighth in the nation this year and just a 1/2-inch away from reaching the top 5.
“I just try not to screw him up,” joked Grady O’Connor, the Lane men’s and women’s head coach and high jumps coach. “He came to us very sound technically. We’ve worked on his strength.”
A beaming Hightower said, “Once I missed my first one (attempt at 7-3 1/4) — I was right there — I said, ‘Today is the day.’ I hadn’t PR’d in two years.”
Hightower missed on three attempts at 7-5; the national JC record is 7-8. Oregon is one of several schools that have shown preliminary interest in Hightower, who hopes to be invited to the Prefontaine Classic on May 30-31 at Oregon’s Hayward Field.
Hightower, who cleared 7-3 to win the 2012 Junior Olympics, was the lone champion Tuesday for the freshmen-laden Lane men’s team. Sean McGetrick failed to repeat as the 110-meter hurdles champ, but he set a school record of 14.37 seconds while coming in second.
The Titans women, loaded with sophomores, won nine of 13 finals Tuesday. Lane won all seven events on the track from 800 meters down, plus the 4x400 relay.
“That’s just unheard of,” O’Connor gushed.
Jahzelle Ambus won the 100 and 200 and ran on both relay teams. The 400 relay time of 3:53.81 is a school record.
Ambus said she was confident she could win the 200, but she was wary of 100 rival Jordan Searle from Clackamas.
“(She) had the fastest time this season (12.06) … there was definitely doubt in my mind,” Ambus said.
Lane’s Kara Hallock won the 100 hurdles after finishing second in all five of her individual events last year, then repeating as the heptathlon runner-up last month.
“One of the best female athletes at Lane ever,” O’Connor declared.
Lane’s other Tuesday winners were Sheldon alum Kristin Clark in the triple jump, Macaulay Wilson in the 800 and Jalen Tims in the 400 hurdles. An estimated 300 spectators turned out Tuesday.
Hightower was named the meet’s outstanding male field events athlete.
The women’s award went to McKenzie Warren, who won three throwing events for Mount Hood.
Spokane sophomore Jessica Mildes landed the outstanding female track performer award. Within 27 1/2 hours, the Gonzaga-bound distance runner won all four of her events: the 10,000, 3,000 steeplechase, 1,500 and 5,000. Mildes set the national JC 10,000 record of 34:29.36 earlier this year.
Mildes won the high scorer award for women. Sharing that award for the men were sprinter-hurdler Aric Walden of Spokane and Anteneh Woticha, who won three running events for Clark.
O’Connor repeated as men’s coach of the year. Spokane’s Jason Cash was tabbed the top women’s coach.
The Titans, who display volumes of team spirit during meets, must replace volumes of spirit and talent next year on the women’s side in particular.
O’Connor said six women are headed to Division I schools: Hallock and Wilson to Oregon State; thrower Madison Seaman to Wyoming; thrower Leah Wilson to Boise State; pole vaulter Janelle Noga to South Dakota State; and pole vaulter Anna Jensen to Sacramento State.
“It’s unheard of to have that many D-1 athletes,” O’Connor said.
Clark and Tims have yet to pick schools. Ambus will run for Division II Seattle Pacific. South Dakota State landed male pole vaulter Erik Jorgensen.
“Once I missed my first one (attempt at 7-3 1/4) — I was right there — I said, ‘Today is the day.’ I hadn’t PR’d in two years.”
Lane High jumper
SPOKANE — The Lane track and field team came up with two event winners on day one of the NWAACC championships Monday at Spokane Community College.
Zach Olivera cleared 15 feet, 11 3/4 inches in the pole vault to win an individual conference title, and Janelle Noga won the women’s pole vault with a clearance of 11-9 1/2.
Lane had eight placers in the two pole vault events (five women, three men), and the Titans also grabbed big points in a few other event finals. Diego Gonzalez finished second in the long jump, and Colton Thurman (third), Jesse Goodier (sixth) and Kaelen Byrum (seventh) also earned points for Lane.
Tanner Eastlick and Trever Walker finished sixth-seventh in the discus as well for Lane.
On the women’s side, the Titans had three placers in the shot put, led by Madison Seaman in third place. Krsitin Clark was second in the long jump and Kara Hallock was third, and the Titans also went 4-5 in the high jump with Kara Hallock and Mackenzie Folkerts.
Spokane scored 107 team points and leads Lane 107-79 for first place in the women’s team race. Spokane also holds a narrow 63-61 advantage over Clackamas and Lane on the men’s side.
Day two of the conference championships begins at 10 a.m.
GRESHAM — Trever Walker won the shot put, finished second in the hammer throw and was fourth in the discus to lead Lane Community College to its 11th straight NWAACC Southern Region men’s track title on Saturday.
Lane won the meet with 225 1/2 points.
Walker won the shot put with a toss of 47 feet, 10 1/2 inches and went 150-10 in the hammer to finish behind Wyatt Meyring. He tossed the discus 137-3 and was the top scorer of the meet.
Lane’s Dakarai Hightower won the high jump in a meet-record 7-1/4, and Jonathan Cornish beat out his brother David to win the 1,500 meters in 4:02.58. Sean McGetrick won the 110 hurdles in 15.30 seconds.
In the women’s half of the meet, Kara Hallock won the 100- and 400-meter hurdles ( and the long jump to lead Lane to its fifth straight regional crown with 250 1/2 points.
Hallock won the 100 hurdles in 14.43 and the 400 hurdles in 1:03.58. She won the long jump with a leap of 18-8 and was second in the high jump at 5-3 3/4.
The Titans’ 4x100 relay team broke the meet record, winning in 47.49. Jahzelle Ambus won the 100 in 12.34 and the 200 in 25.44, Jalen Tims won the 400 in 56.52, Macauley Wilson won the 800 in 2:16.61 and Nicole Maurmann won the 1,500 in 4:48.69.
Dakarai Hightower has grown into a high-jumping phenom
LCC high jumper Dakarai Hightower recently broke the Lane Community College high jump record and was the 2012 USATF Junior Olympic champion when he cleared 7-3. (Brian Davies/The Register-Guard)
By Chris Hansen
Two years after first leaping onto the national stage, a high jumper with Division I skills and a fitting last name is trying to find his way back into the spotlight.
Dakarai Hightower, the 2012 U.S. Junior Olympic champion from Tacoma, has resurfaced at Lane Community College this spring, and the 19-year-old freshman hasn’t missed a beat.
The 6-foot-3 Hightower broke the 38-year-old Lane record when he cleared 7 feet, ¼ inch during the Oregon Relays on April 19 at Hayward Field, then reset his own record just five days later when he went over 7-1 ½ during the Titan Twilight meet at LCC.
And neither mark comes close to his personal best of 7-3, a height he cleared to win the Junior Olympic meet in Baltimore the summer after his senior year of high school.
“It feels good to get back up there and be at the high heights again,” said Hightower, who will be competing today in the OSU High Performance meet at the Whyte Track & Field Center in Corvallis. “I’m just out here having fun.”
Hightower was the top high jump prospect in the nation as senior at Curtis High School in 2012, but it was no secret his grades wouldn’t get him into a top school, so recruiters quickly backed off.
Not wanting to start his NCAA eligibility clock, High-tower took the 2012-13 year off from school “to get my mind right,” he said. “I needed a growth year, so to speak.”
However, he didn’t take the year off from competing.
Hightower crushed the field at the Junior Olympics meet that year. His winning bar was 5 ¼ inches higher than second-place finisher Johnathan Addison, who now competes for North Carolina State, and was close to the Junior Olympic meet record of 7-3 ¾.
“Without a doubt, there are very few 18- or 19-year-olds doing that,” said Grady O’Connor, the director of track and field at Lane. “We’re talking just a handful. It was pretty impressive.”
Under the direction of coach Nate Wilford from the Flying AJ’s track club in Tacoma, Hightower spent 2013 competing unattached. He won the high jump at the Oregon Relays with a mark of 6-10 ¾ and then cleared 7-1 to win the Oregon Twilight meet.
“I just dedicated myself to training,” Hightower said.
Now he’s trying to improve his profile.
Because of his grades, Hightower knew if he wanted to land at a Division I school eventually, he would first have to find a two-year college where he could get his associate’s degree.
Through a former high school teammate, Hightower was put in touch with O’Connor, who has built Lane into a regional power in his 17 years at the school.
“I looked at some of the athletes that Lane’s produced and it was a good fit for me,” Hightower said. “It had a nice team feeling, team atmosphere. I was always kind of the lone wolf in high school. Lane just has a really good team aspect.”
That will certainly come into play in the weeks ahead as the Titans get ready for the NWAACC South Region meet on May 10 in Gresham, and then the NWAACC championship meet in Spokane May 19-20, where the Titans will be going for their second straight title.
But even bigger things could be ahead for Hightower, who is the conference’s high jump leader by almost seven inches.
O’Connor, who is personally coaching Hightower, is gearing up his protégé for a run at 7-4 ½ — the qualifying standard for the 2014 U.S. Track & Field Outdoor Championships — starting today in Corvallis.
“OSU is his one last meet where the adrenaline should be flowing, because there will be other guys there that can beat him,” O’Connor said. “And that’s pretty unusual for him. Regionals, NWAACCs, he’s in a class by himself. Second place could be 6-6 and he’s opening at 6-9. That’s a whole different climate when you’re competing.”
It’s a climate O’Connor wants Hightower to take more seriously. Both O’Connor and Hightower point to the Oregon Relays two weeks ago when Hightower went off script and chose not to open until the bar reached 7-0 ¼. Though he set the school record, he also finished third and cleared only the one height.
“Coach wasn’t too happy about that one,” Hightower said with a laugh.
“Dakarai came to us with his résumé, he came to us with really sound technique, but what we’re trying to get going is the mental aspect and I think he needs some growth there,” O’Connor said. “He’s just got to get more focused on winning. We’re trying to get him mentally tough and focused.”
Both agree that, at the very least, Hightower is nearing a PR. He came close to clearing 7-3 ¼ at the Titan Twilight, barely brushing the bar on his final attempt. That gives O’Connor hope that the U.S. qualifying mark might also be near.
“He could stumble into it the next three or four weeks,” O’Connor said. “That’s the kind of freakish talent that he has.
“At the Titan Twilight, a low-key meet, by himself, just feeling loose and light, he almost jumps 7-3 ¼. He has the physical gift to do that on any given day.”
And for at least one more season, he’ll be doing it at Lane.
“He has the physical gift to do that on any given day.”
— Grady O’connor, Lane track & Field coach, on his prize freshman just missing at 7-31/4
Clackamas and Lane sophomores Elizabeth Venzon and Dylan Hamming repeated their 2013 outcomes to claim the 2014 Heptathlon and Decathlon Championships at Lane Community College in Eugene Tuesday.
Lane's Dylan Hamming and Clackamas' Elizabeth Venzon repeated their 2013 title winning performances to capture the 2014 Decathlon and Heptathlon championship.
Hamming and Venzon once again had to fend off last year's runner-ups Seth Buck of Clackamas and Lane's Kara Hallock in defense of their titles.
Hamming entered day two a point behind Olympic's Jayson Brocklesby (3544-3543) and 42 points ahead of Buck. Hamming then took the points lead over Brocklesby after placing second in the opening event, the100m Hurdles, while Buck grabbed 2nd place.
Hamming then went on to place ahead of Buck and Brocklesby in four of the five remaining events (Discus, Pole Vault, and Javelin). Buck also held leads over Brocklesby in those four events. Brocklesby capped the championship with a first place finish in the 1500 meters, but was too far behind to pull ahead of Buck for 2nd.
Hallock entered the day with a 69 point lead on Venzon and padded her lead to 160 with a first place finish in the Long Jump over second place Venzon.
But as was the case in 2013, Hallock lost significant points to Venzon in the Javelin (639pts to 371pts) allowing Venzon to take her first lead over Hallock 4179-4071.
Venzon then held on to her lead topping Hallock in the final event (800m). Her 4905 point total broke CCC's school record by 300 points and her two day total was only 83 points short of the NWAACC record.
Team points were also awarded that will be added to scores of the 2014 NWAACC Track and Field Championships in May. On the men's side, both Lane (2 participants placed) and Clackamas (3) earned 15 points while Olympic received 6.
Spokane wasn't in the mix for top two billing in the Heptathlon, but had four participants place in the top 8 to earn 16 team points. Lane earned 11 while Clackamas received 10 and Mt. Hood 2.
The NWAACC Track and Field Championships will resume at Spokane Falls Community College on May 19-20 [website].
The Lane Community College women’s 4x400 relay team broke a 17-year-old school record during the Oregon Relays at Hayward Field on Saturday.
The foursome of Jalen Tims, Macaulay Wilson, Jahzelle Ambus and Kristine Dunn finished in 3 minutes. 49.49 seconds to break the previous mark by more than three seconds that was set by Mariah Williams, Katie Rowlett, Danielle Fleming and Sarah Wasylnka in 1997.
Another LCC record fell on Friday when freshman high jumper Dakarai Hightower cleared 7 feet, 1/4 inch, bettering the mark of 7-0 set by Kelly Graham in 1976.
Lane Sophomore Kara Hallock signs her National Letter of Intent with Oregon State University. She is planning on majoring in Exercise Science. She hails from Lebanon, Oregon. Kara was the high point performer at the 2013 NWAACC Championships (42.5 points). She is also Lane's School Record holder in the 100m Hurdles, 14.16.
Go Titans! Go Beavs!
Lane Sophomore Maddy Rae Seaman signed her National Letter of Intent today with the University of Wyoming. She is planning on majoring in Psychology. She hails from Couer D'Alene, Idaho. This spring Maddy will be trying to defend her NWAACC title in the women's discus and chasing the school record.
Go Titans! Go Cowboys!