2018 will be a year for veterans and newcomers.
As the O’Dowd track & field season gets underway, Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Jamal Cooks will be looking to senior experience and freshman enthusiasm to drive the 80-member strong team this season. “I haven’t had a team like this before, with this many seniors and freshmen, but I think our outlook is great,” Cooks said.
Practice starts on February 12, with league and invitational meets getting underway in March. “Our goals are the same – to win league, NCS and get as many people to state as we can,” Cooks said.
On the women’s side, three members of the state champion 4 x 400 relay team are returning – Marnae Glover ’18, Tierra Robinson-Jones ’18 and Jasmine Powell ’19 – and the entire 4 x 100 relay team (which placed fourth at the state meet) – Jordan Jones ’19, Glover, Powell and Robinson-Jones – are looking to move up on the podium.
The 4 x 400 relay team members received their state championship rings during a ceremony held at halftime of the January 5 men’s basketball game.
Seniors Karayah Gibbs and Zahra Norris (hurdles), Samiya Bremond (jumps) and Maya Jenkins (throwing) will help lead the veterans. “They are looking to make that next jump and qualify for state,” Cooks said.
Freshman newcomers, many of whom have run age group track, include sprinters/hurdlers Kandace Blackshire, Emily Dotson and Jazlynn Gibbs, and thrower Malia Jenkins.
Returning distance runners include Isabella Brusco ’19, Kalea Fong ’20 and Jeneeva Toolajian ’19 are expected to make an impact.
For the men, junior sprinters Austin Jones and Jelani Warren are returners from the 4 x 400 and 4 x 100 teams that qualified for NCS last year.
Cooks expects great things from sprinter Keith Evans ’18, who, after battling a series of injuries, is now healthy and looking strong, as well as thrower John Kyriacou ’19.
Freshman newcomers include middle distance runner Kyle Von Seeburg, sprinters/jumpers Jermaine Brewer and Harrison Jenkins.
Distance runners include Tommy Murphy ’19, Spencer Berkins ’18 and Cole Kretlow ’18.
Cooks gives lots of credit to his staff for the program’s success. “We have one of the strongest staffs in Northern California. Tony Green is a legend in throws, Hillary Kigar has done a phenomenal job with our cross country and distance programs, and Laron McCoy, Karla Jones and Anthony Jones do an incredible job with the sprinters, jumpers and hurdlers,” he said.
Added Cooks, “This is probably the most confident I’ve felt about our team since I’ve been here. The infrastructure is strong and we have kids and families that have bought into the program. When you have that, and a great coaching staff, it makes my job easier.”