By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

A record day at Jim Barks Open

McMinnville senior Kane Kennedy was able to do that Thursday at the Jim Barks/Grizzly Bear Open. Kennedy, last year’s surprise second-place finisher in the 6A state championships in 2012, burst onto the scene this year with posting two early top times in the state in the 100- and 400-meter sprints.

“Kane has a big foundation,” McMinnville coach Vic Downs said. “He’s worked all winter long with a focus of being the best track athlete he can be. State championship is what he’s shooting for. Sky is the limit for Kane right now.”

Kennedy ran 11 seconds in the 100, which is the third-fastest time in school history. The time would have been good enough for second place at last year’s 6A state championships. Kennedy then followed that up with a time of 49.60 in the 400, lowering his personal best by 0.19 and moving into second in the school’s record books. The time was 0.01 off the time Nate Halverson from Grant ran in the 6A state championships to win the state title.

“He was running into a strong headwind coming around the final bend,” Downs said. “He was amazing in that. The 400 was even more impressive. Cold day in March, you just don’t break 50 (seconds) very easily, and he crushed it.”

While the track season is still in its infancy, Kennedy’s times are a great starting block, Downs said, to build on. Kennedy and a group of athletes who didn’t compete in a winter sport worked out all winter.

“There’s a sense of urgency with him and a bunch of our seniors,” Downs said. “This is it for them. They’ve always been close. They’re training just like that. They don’t have a second chance.”

McMinnville won eight events Thursday on the boys side and two on the girls side. Kennedy anchored the boys 4x100-meter relay team that finished first in 43.51 — the fifth fastest time in school history.

On the field, junior Tim Tatton won the javelin and the discus, throwing personal bests in both. Tatton won the javelin with a throw of 166 feet, 6 inches, and he won the discus with a toss of 148-5. Tatton also finished third in the shot put with a mark of 40-7. The javelin mark was the third best in school history, and the discus mark was the sixth best.

“The discus was the most impressive,” Downs said. “That 148 would have put him on the podium last year at state, and he’s just getting started.

“Tim is becoming more of a well-rounded thrower.

The Grizzly Bear Open — newly renamed the Jim Barks Open in honor of the former Mac track head coach from 1983 to 2009 who is now the Grizzlies’ pole vault coach — was a massive meet with more than 1,000 athletes competing. The 6A teams were Mac, Lakeridge and St. Mary’s, and there were four 4A teams, two 2A teams and two 1A teams. The 6A teams featured three of the top five teams from last year’s state meet (St. Mary’s, first; Mac, third; Lakeridge, fifth), and the best long-distance runner in the state in Paige Rice from St. Mary’s.

“It was a very competitive meet because of the girls,” Downs said. “There was some great stuff.”

Junior Dakota Buhler won the girls triple jump with a mark of 32-7. Lucy Bellville won the girls high jump with a clearance of five feet. Downs said some of the concern with the girls team would be who would step in to fill the void left by state champions Ashante Horsley and Ariel Oliver. What he saw Thursday held some promise, he said.

“We have some good young athletes who will fill in.”

Still, the track season is still in the early going, and a lot of Thursday’s meet was about getting the 150-plus athletes on the Grizzlies track team some exposure at a big meet. There are a lot of new faces suiting up for Mac, and figuring out what events they will be good at takes time.

“The Jim Barks Open is the only meet like it in the state where you can bring your entire team and it’s an open meet,” Downs said. “Everyone else has gone away from it because it’s hard to do. … It’s a great thing, especially for the junior varsity kid who is never going to be varsity. They’re never going to be in a big invitational that’s big time. We do it for the kids, no doubt about it.

“Jim Barks has kept this meet under the same philosophy, and we’re trying to hold onto that. We think it’s important to make it available to all the kids.”

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