Most of the Long Creek Mountaineer track and field team may be new to the sport, but they are making strides and learning as they go.
All of the team members also took part in playing basketball, the girls participated in volleyball and all the boys were members of Long Creek/Ukiah’s soccer team, which went undefeated this school year.
The team of six boys and five girls are picking up the techniques of their events quickly, said head coach Linda Studtmann. She said participating in other sports has been a benefit for the team.
“It helps keep you in shape and keeps your mind and body disciplined and in tune,” she said.
“We saw improvement in several of the athletes, and most had personal records in at least one of their events,” Studtmann said of their second competition of the season, Friday’s Prairie City Invitational.
Long Creek School’s grass and dirt track has just enough room for one and a half lanes, and until recently, one end of the track was muddy. Attending the Diana Thurmond Invitational on March 16 in Harper gave them their first opportunity to test their events on a paved track.
“We don’t always have a meet before spring break,” Studtmann said. “I wanted to try it because once they go to their first track meet, things start clicking, and what they’re practicing starts making sense.”
She said they are focused on the track experience more than results right now, but the athletes say they are working to hone their skills.
Sophomore James Kreamier is the only returning varsity team member, and freshman Lucchese Douglas has middle school experience at her previous school. Kreamier’s events include the high jump, long jump and 4x100-meter relay.
“I’m enjoying being with my friends, and I think we’re doing better this year than last,” he said. “Overall, we have more athletic kids, and they started off naturally running faster and jumping higher.”
He said his favorite events are the high jump and long jump. He improved his mark in both events, and the 4x100, in Prairie City.
Raphael Gumerato is the only senior for Long Creek this year.
“I’m starting off never doing it before, and every time I learn more and improve,” he said. “I’m enjoying being with my friends and seeing improvement.”
He said he hopes to better his mark in the high jump, and that their 4x100 team improves their time.
Freshman Dorotha Johnson competes in the long jump, high jump and 4x100 with Ximena Millan, Jenny Kim and Douglas. She said her teammates are fun to be around, especially her relay team which placed fourth in Harper. She said competing on a paved track helps.
“It was really nice,” she said. “Out here, it’s just dirt.”
Millan said she’s enjoyed learning to throw javelin. She also likes jogging and enjoys her relay team.
“We are really close to each other, and we have fun,” she said. “We help each other know what to do, and we are a good team.”
Studtmann oversees discus, shot put and long jump. She has help from two volunteer assistants, including Peter Case, who went to state in the 800-meter run and coaches javelin, and Patch Freeman, who teaches drills and starts the athletes out in high jump.
Studtmann said she’s pleased with the positive mindset she sees in the team members.
“They are teachable, and they get along well together so there is that camaraderie,” she said. “They laugh, they enjoy being together and it makes it easier for me as a coach to have those good attitudes.”
The coach added, “When you see them improve and you see their pleasure at what they’ve done, that makes you feel good as a coach — that their accomplishments are meaning something to them too.”
Long Creek track and field schedule
April 13: @ Rancher’s Invitational in Crane at 11 a.m.
April 17: @ Grant Union Small Schools Meet in John Day at 3:30 p.m.
April 20: @ Condon/Wheeler Invitational in Condon at 11 a.m.
April 27: @ Don Walker Invitational in Nyssa at 1 p.m.
May 3: @ High Desert League Meet in Prairie City at 4 p.m.
May 4: @ Grant Union Invitational at 11 a.m.
May 17-19: OSAA 1A Track and Field State Championships in Eugene