NASELLE — The Comets boys track team has added some proven athletes this year, including some poached from baseball, but the girls team has thinned out a bit as softball has gained in popularity. Top returning athletes include Lilli Zimmerman and Faaoso Tutu’u.

Zimmerman won the state 1B shot put championship in 2017 and took third last year. Zimmerman also advanced to State with a 4’6” in the high jump mark at Districts and opened this year with the second 4’8” mark of her career, a total that would have placed in the top five at State last year. Jackie Steenerson, who also high-jumped at State last year, has jumped several 4’8”s and had her first 4’10” at this year’s home meet, meaning Naselle could have two of the top 1B high jumpers this year.

Tutu’u gained speed and jumping distance late last year and has sustained those results early this year. Tutu’u took fourth in the long jump at State, and should be a top contender in the 100-meter hurdles this year. He is adding the high jump to his menu this year and won Thursday’s home meet at 5’8”, which would have tied for ninth at State last season; a 6’3 jump won State.

Though Naselle’s girls had a small turnout, one key addition is Echo Cenci, a top eighth-grade sprinter who was called up to the high school team late last May and competed with the relay team at State.

“It will be good to have her training with us the whole year,” coach Rob Baker said.

Grace Hunt, another freshman runner, has experience in middle distances. Steenerson is solid in short distances and ran a bit behind Cenci at the home meet. But the Comets haven’t had enough runners to field girls’ relay teams so far.

Sophie Scrabeck’s versatility can help make up for the team’s lack of depth. She reached State last year in three very different events, the 100-meter hurdles, the pole vault and the javelin throw.

The boys field a deeper group of runners than do the girls. Kolby Glenn, a tireless guard in basketball, is off to a fantastic start as a distance runner, coming in under 5:20 in the 1600 in both his events. Corey Gregory, making the switch from baseball, has gotten solid results in shorter distances. Returners include Antonio Nolan, a solid mid-distance runner, and Monte Schell, who took second at District in the 800 and went to State. Chase Haataia also made the switch from baseball and is trying out mid-distance races and the high jump. Chase’s twin brother, Caleb, reached State last year in the pole vault and also competes in the javelin throw and long jump.

Yet another standout athlete joining track is Jacob Eaton, an All-League receiver and league MVP basketball player whose attempt at a high school baseball career was derailed by an elbow injury in his freshman year.

“I like baseball, but my elbow never recovered, and I could never really throw (a baseball) again,” said Eaton, who traveled with the baseball team in past years. “I want to enjoy my senior year and be active. I’m going to try the high jump, maybe some relays, and try the triple jump.”

The throwing events (shot put, javelin and discuss) have been the strength of the Naselle boys team in recent years, with Erik Lund and Shon McEneny leading the way. They both graduated, but Cody Condon has a strong track record and Vince Fauver, another former baseball player, is off to a very solid start. The two were first and second at the home meet in the javelin throw, both going over 120 feet; with slight improvement, either could make State in the event. Condon already reached state last year in the pole vault, an event in which he set a personal best Thursday.

For the girls’ team, Ellie Miller became a major contender in the discuss throw late last year, crushing her personal best with a 100’6” mark at districts and doing nearly as well at state with a 97’ throw for eighth-place. Early this year Miller has shown she can keep it up, taking second at South Bend and first with a 92’6” at the home meet.

Naselle’s season continues Thursday, March 27, at 3:30 p.m. at Ilwaco.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or aaroncmead@gmail.com.

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