Pole vaulterAlthough it was labeled as a “mini” invite, 11 schools participated in the indoor track and field meet held at Fork Union Military Academy’s (FUMA) indoor facility Dec. 13. The infield was a mob scene of athletes from all the schools lounging, stretching and preparing for their events.

Fluco athletes turned in some excellent performances and in the three meets the Flucos have participated in so far, a number of male and female athletes have already met standard times, distances and heights to qualify to participate in year-end District, Region and even State competitions.

The mini meet included 30 events: 15 for boys and 15 for girls. The Flucos had some good performances in the early events, but did not win until event number 20: the boys’ 1,600-meter run, or metric mile. Senior Jack Rice finished first in a time of 4:55.31, winning by approximately two seconds.

In the very next event, the girls’ 500-meter run, the Flucos gained their second first place, as senior Kristen Cabrera came in first with a time of 1:54.53, winning by just over four seconds. Then in event 23, the girls’ 1,000-meter run, another Fluco won. Freshman cross-country standout Emily Smeds was victorious with a time of 3:16.69, which was more than nine seconds better than the second place finisher. Nine seconds is an impressive margin in race of this length.

The Flucos finished off their strong running performances by capturing first place in the penultimate event of the meet, the girls’ 4X400-meter relay. The team of Cabrera, Smeds, sophomore Kieri Hart and senior Alexis Kesterson finished in 4:31.41 for a four-second win.

Good results for the Flucos at the meet in the field events were turned in by Brooke Nazar, who came in fifth in girls’ shotput, Cameron Holland, who was fourth in the boys’ triple jump, and Ashlee Pieno and Amina Wilson, who were third and fourth in the girls’ pole vault.

The Flucos also had good performances in three relay events. In the girls’ 4X800-meter relay the Flucos came in second. The relay team consisted of freshman Summer Craig, sophomores Hart and Maryann Chittenden, and senior Saige Haney. In the girls’ 4X200-meter relay the Flucos came in third. The team consisted of freshmen Madison Brown and Hannah Feith, sophomore pole vaulter Wilson and senior Melanie Stone.

In the boys’ 2X2000-meter relay the Flucos finished fourth. The team consisted of three juniors and a sophomore. The juniors were Dante Eddings, Prophett Harris and Christian Holland. The sophomore was Cameron Holland. Other good finishes for the Flucos in running events included freshman Kaitlin Bower, who earned fifth in the 55-meter event, and sophomore Eli Hartzog, who placed sixth in the 300-meter dash.

Tom Casto, coach of the boys’ team, said that his team has been doing well in the first three meets. He has one State qualifier to date: Harris in the long jump. His District qualifiers so far are: Kevin Alvarenga in the pole vault, Kevin Burruss in the 55-meter hurdles, Alden Custer, Joey VanDyke and Eli Hartzog in the shotput, Eddings in the 55-meter and the triple jump, Christian Holland in the triple jump, the long jump and the high jump, Griffin Klauder and Colby Martin in the 55-meter hurdles, and Rice in the 1,000-meter and the 1,600-meter. Region qualifying standards are not out yet, but the coaches are confident that they have quite a few qualifiers, including all-State qualifiers.

Rose Brogan, coach of the girls’ team, said that she has a number of State qualifiers so far, including the 4X800 relay team of Hart, Cabrera, Smeds and Haney. Individual qualifiers include: Smeds at 1,600 and 3,200 meters, Cabrera at 500 meters, Wilson and Pieno in pole vault and Jules Shephard in high jump. All of these are, of course, District qualifiers as well. Other District qualifiers to date include: Anja Vernatter at 3,200 meters, Haney at 1,600 meters, Hart at 500 meters, and Smeds and Cabrera at 100 meters.

* Editor's note: We misidentified the photo of the pole vaulter as Ashlee Pieno, the picture is of Madison Brown. We apologize for the error.