Track and field focuses on “team”
Last updated 3/15/2022 at Noon
After last year’s shortened season, the athletes and coaches of the Outlaws track and field team look forward to a full campaign, with a complete slate of meets and more than double the time to train.
A core group of veterans mixed with a healthy crop of newcomers means that new head coach Cailen McNair and his staff will spend the first portion of the season determining the events in which individual athletes will partake.
After two weeks of training, some of those questions are being answered, and the two meets this month will help coaches gather more insight, according to McNair.
McNair is focused on the concept of “team” this season, which includes encouraging all members of the squad to commit to doing three or four events each meet.
“I want each team member to be willing to try new things and find a passion that will help them discover their personal potential while also being supportive to their teammates,” he said.
McNair has 17 years of coaching experience in eight different sports, including track and field where he will be coaching the sprinters, relay teams, and the long and triple jumps.
Among the girls team, four State qualifiers return, including Hollie Lewis, Ila Reid, Gracie Vohs, and Lillie Sundstrom.
Lewis, a senior, specializes in the high jump, in which she holds a share of the school record with Anya Shockley, at 5-feet-3-inches. Lewis placed fourth at the state meet last year in the long jump and joined current sophomores Reid, Vohs, and Sundstrom in both the 4x100 relay and the 4x400 relay, in which the quartet placed fourth.
Vohs also made the podium at State in the pole vault, where she placed fifth with a clearance of eight feet.
Though the boys team has just one returning state qualifier, McNair is pleased that the number of boys on the team has increased and believes they can be competitive throughout the 17 events.
Junior Taine Martin competed at State in the high jump last season after clearing 5-feet-10 inches at Districts, and narrowly missed qualifying in the pole vault, where he placed third at Districts with a best of 10 feet.
Sophomore Ted Stolasz also returns in the pole vault with a best of nine feet, which earned fifth place at Districts last year.
Most of the varsity cross-country team that placed second in the state, including seniors Kaleb Briggs and Erik Ryan, juniors Hayden Roth and Cole Jervis, as well as freshmen George Roberts, Spencer Tisdel, and Colton Middlestetter, are out for track, with some branching out to other events.
Senior Carson Brown is also back and is expected to add some running events to his repertoire this season after focusing solely on the throwing events last season.
McNair is in his first year as the head coach, returning to work at Sisters Middle School after a long stint in teaching and coaching overseas, most recently in Shanghai, China. He took over from Jeff Larson, who moved to Texas.
Dennis Dempsey, Jim Anderson, and Sarah Thorsett return as assistant coaches and collectively provide a tremendous depth of knowledge and experience, according to McNair.
Dempsey opened Sisters High School as the principal in 1992 and has been involved in the program ever since. He is overseeing the high jump and hurdles and, as he put it, “helping out wherever needed.”
Dempsey said, “The kids who are showing up are working hard and it looks like the girls team is shaping up to be competitive and the boys team, though pretty young, but we have some good senior leadership that I think will help carry those younger ones through.”
Anderson arrived on the scene in 1995 after a 30-year career at Clackamas High School. His primary focus this season is the pole vault, although he also contributes to coaching long jump and triple jump.
Thorsett, who is also an assistant for the cross-country team, is in charge of the distance runners for the sixth year.
“So far the kids are showing a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of the distance crew did a winter sport so these first two weeks of practice have been about checking fitness, building back up, and preventing injuries,” she said. “But the kids who did run over the winter look to be in great shape.”
Regarding working under a new head coach, Thorsett said, “Cailen has a lot of energy as the head coach and he really knows his stuff and has high expectations for the kids, so the team is in a good place.”
Katie Wardsworth is the newest member of the track and field coaching staff and comes with strong credentials and enthusiasm. A collegiate hammer thrower at both Washington and Washington State, Wardsworth is thrilled to be on the coaching staff.
“This season the Outlaws are establishing themselves as a competitive throws program. As the throws coach, I want our throwers to build on the foundation Coach McNair and the other assistants have established,” she said. “Track truly relies on each member of the team bringing their greatest effort and performances to support the overall success of the program. As a former PAC-12 thrower myself, I am thankful to share my passion and knowledge with such a strong and well-established coaching staff.”
Wardsworth continued, “Each day our athletes become stronger mentally, emotionally, and physically. I can’t wait to see how we perform this season and help contribute to our team’s success. To succeed in track and field, athletes truly need to show dedication and discipline and how to push through comfort zones. I am happy with what I am seeing so far.”
In track and field the top two finishers in each event at the district meet qualify for state. A conference/district team championship is based on overall scoring at the district meet. Sisters is typically among the top teams, with both the boys and girls finishing third last year among the seven teams in the Oregon West Conference. Philomath, Cascade, and Newport also have strong traditions in track and field.
The Outlaws open competition Wednesday, March 16 with a three-way meet hosted by Bend High, which also includes the La Pine Hawks.
Sisters will host 10 other teams in its one and only home meet, after spring break on March 30.