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Track: Bright new ‘blue’ day for Jewell Blue Jays

By Gary Henley

The Daily Astorian

Published on April 22, 2018 1:09PM

Last changed on April 23, 2018 9:13AM

Aiden Bixel gets a running start at the pole vault for Jewell.

Colin Murphey/The Daily Astorian

Aiden Bixel gets a running start at the pole vault for Jewell.

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Sophie Olvera clears the bar during the pole vault.

Colin Murphey/The Daily Astorian

Sophie Olvera clears the bar during the pole vault.

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Aspen Searls lands in the pit during the long jump.

Colin Murphey/The Daily Astorian

Aspen Searls lands in the pit during the long jump.

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JEWELL — Everything was coming up Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Jewell High School. In addition to a blue sky and a new blue track, the Jewell Blue Jays had themselves a day to remember.

In the school’s first home meet in at least 25 years, the Blue Jays made it a first-class affair for the grand re-opening of their home track, as the Jays hosted the 12-team Jewell Invitational.

And the message for the day was, “we’re not little ol’ Jewell anymore,” which was one of the messages that former Blue Jay Mollie Lee (2006 state champion in the javelin) gave to this year’s squad before the meet. If you put the work into it, you can accomplish great things.

Which the school has certainly done. Jewell’s new, first-class track would be the envy of any high school in Clatsop County. The Blue Jays took the opportunity and made it a special day all around.

Halfway through the meet, they held a special ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new track, which was followed by the introduction of some Jewell track alumni, and capped off with a Senior Day presentation for current Jewell track athletes.

In addition to the Blue Jays winning a few events in the meet, it was indeed a Blue Jay-kind of day for Clatsop County’s smallest school.

A class 1A high school, Jewell has 18 athletes on the track team (the school’s enrollment was 39 students last year).

“I’ve been running track meets for 50 years,” said David Fix, a longtime college coach, a current assistant at Jewell and meet director for Saturday’s event. “And I haven’t done a perfect one yet. But I could not be more pleased with our first effort here.

“It looks like a three-ring circus out here, but we have good people who keep track of every little thing,” he said. “Most of the people who are running the events were longtime officials for me at Lewis & Clark College, or one of my former athletes. They’ve put on a lot of meets, so they know the routine.”

The new track will lead to more home meets, less travel for the team, and possible postseason meets.

“In the future, we’d like to hold this meet every year,” said Jewell coach Joe Kaczenski. “And there are talks of having a Casco League meet, just for the Casco schools.

“The feedback I’ve heard today from coaches, they really like the track,” he said. “It’s brand new and good for the athletes. Before it was like concrete, now it’s a fast track.”

Fix has only been at Jewell since 2015, but knew the history.

“Jewell had a track of unknown origins, somewhere in the 1980s, and it was worn out,” he said. “So it’s a credit to the school, and to the teams.”

With no varsity baseball or softball teams, “We had half the school out for high school track,” he said. “So the school board accepted the rationale to get a new track, and spent a lot of money on it ($750,000). It’s a beautiful track in a beautiful setting, and for a 1A school, we’re really fortunate.”

Replacement of the track began July 10, 2017, and was finished by Oct. 27.

And for the record, they never found a boxcar underneath the old track.

“That’s a local legend, that there’s a boxcar buried out here as a drywell,” Fix said. “But we didn’t find it.”

As for the meet itself, Jewell athletes won three events — two of them by senior Gabi Morales.

She ran the 100-meter hurdles in 17.57 seconds to finish first in that event, then later won the 300-meter hurdles in a personal best time 49.04.

Morales also cleared 4 feet, 9 inches for second in the high jump.

“My ultimate goal is to place first in both hurdles at districts, and top three in state,” she said.

The new track “is amazing,” she added. “It’s so much better. I love it. It’s a good way to end the year.”

Elsewhere, senior Emma Guillen took third out of 29 competitors in the shot put with a personal record toss of 28-5. Sophomore Aspen Searls was third in the 100 meters (13.89).

On the boys’ side, senior Thomas Meehan won the 3,000 meters in 10:28.20, and was second in the 1,500 meters (4:45.80), while Daniel Kuhnly had the second-best time in the 800 meters (2:27.70).


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