By Jeremy McDonald
DALLAS, Ore.– Justin Parnell’s junior season was a good learning experience when it comes to the State Track Meet. Granted it was at a smaller scale than usual at the 5A Cumulative Week State Meet last May, but the first time out yielded some good results and experiences that the Dallas thrower is taking into account for this season.
“I didn’t have the meet I wanted but I kept working and kept getting ready for the State Meet this year,” Parnell said. “It was really big because when I talked to my coaches about it and one of the things that helped me back in that State Meet I was really stiff. Just having my first State Meet and just having that experience, especially going into this next year is going to help me.
“Just being relaxed, especially in throwing, is huge for having good form and good technique when you’re trying to hit those big marks.”
Parnell was fifth in the shot put and sixth in the discus last Spring, taking into consideration peaking at the right time at the right time towards the end of the season. Making sure his training schedule ties into his meet schedule so he can hit those big marks he wants and just building upon them throughout the season ahead.
“One of the things i’m going to do leading up to State is having some noise. Playing some music from a speaker, some clapping or applause and whatever I need to to get my mind set that I’m going to have at the State Meet,” Parnell points out. “So when I get there, it’s not as nerve-racking. But definitely having been there before is going to help me feel a little more relaxed and comfortable in that situation.”
Parnell is just one of an handful of Dragons returning from that 5A State Meet. Logan Person is the other lone boys Trackster to return as the now-senior finished ninth in the javelin with 154-feet-eight-inches.
On the girls side. Maddy Straus and Avery Shinkle return with some State appearances. Straus finished fifth in the javelin with a PR throw of 123-feet and Shinkle was 11th in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.13 seconds. Those two, plus Kaitlyn Van Well are hoping to lead the Dallas girls team to a State Meet Berth as a team.
“Since the freshman and sophomores didn’t get a season last year, we have to show them what it’s like to be in High School and talking to coaches. How you talk during workouts and keeping an positive attitude,” Shinkle said.
“Just not slacking off during workouts, showing up and putting in work and not goofing off,” adds Van Well.
Van Well will be doing the 400-meter, 200-meter and the 4×400 meter relay. Shinkle will be returning to the 100-meter hurdles while also doing the 100-meter dash, 4×100 relay and maybe some jumps.
For Straus, she’s looking to add some events entering this year. The 400-meter race, triple jump, high jump to name a few events she’s looking at, just not to prepare her for the next level as a heptathlon athlete, but to help her team collect enough team points to qualify them for the State Meet in May. That and being up-raising as one of the leaders of the Track and Field team.
“Wherever I could help my team earn points and just work hard to get our girls team to State,” Straus said. “Us three (with Van Well and Shinkle) being the most predominant in our specific events, just going out and working hard every day, setting a good example of what needs to be done. Sharing our goals with the younger athletes, giving them something to look forward to so that when they’re of that age they can go out and give it back. I think that’ll be the big thing for us this year is just being good team leaders.”
Dallas opens up the season March 17 when they host a five-team icebreaker at Dallas High School. The Dragons will host Central and North Salem on March 30 before traveling to compete at West Salem for the annual Titan Track Classic on April 1.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald