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Sprint to success: Mavs 4x100 relay team breaks school record set in 1978

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | April 5, 2024 1:58 AM

MOSES LAKE — As everybody who’s ever been involved in track and field knows, relays are tough. Sprint relays are even tougher.

Not only does the leadoff have to get out of the blocks — a clean start is crucial in sprints — but the handoffs have to be precise, especially when runners are coming in fast and going out fast. It’s so easy to mess up the pass. Or worse, drop the baton.

So a 4x100 relay team with three guys with no experience in track, two of whose members are relatively new to Moses Lake High School, can be expected to break a school record set in 1978. 

The team of Joel Middleton, Kyson Thomas, Ty Rimple and Calin Dameron posted a time of 43.18 in the relay at the Clay Lewis Invitational in Hanford on March 30. That was two-tenths of a second faster than the team of Don Norwood, Eddie Vanelkinberg, Dan Deleon and Tom Brice, running more than 40 years ago.

“Forty-six years ago,” Rimple said.

The MLHS team finished second to a team from Kennewick, who won by three-tenths of a second. About 1.4 seconds separated the top five teams. 

Middleton, Thomas and Dameron are familiar faces to MLHS football fans, but the sport of track is new to them. 

“All three of us, this is our first season doing the 4x100,” Thomas said of himself, Middleton and Dameron. “This is our first season running track.”

Rimple moved to Moses Lake from Japan, and Dameron from Maryland, relatively recently. Rimple ran cross country last fall, he said, and didn’t really know the others on the relay team before track season started. Inexperience on the track and unfamiliarity among some on the team were obstacles they worked to overcome from the beginning of the season, said sprint Coach Jennifer Carpenter.

“Just from the beginning, they clicked. They started practicing on (relay) before I even worked with them,” Carpenter said. 

“Chemistry,” Rimple said of the reason they were successful so quickly. “Practice, too.”

Thomas said it’s important to know each runner will play his part.

“You just have to trust each other, be confident. And run for each other,” he said. 

Rimple added that it mattered that the other three played football together, and asked them if they thought that experience mattered.

“I think it did,” Thomas said, “because we’re all together, and we know each other very well.” 

Middleton said the key to a record-breaking race was pretty simple. 

“We just ran hard, and got the time,” he said. 

Carpenter said the team’s success really is pretty simple.

“It’s because they’re fast,” she said. 

The familiarity between the football players — Middleton and Thomas are close friends — promotes camaraderie, she said. Playing football also has taught them about conditioning. 

“Even though they don’t have track experience, they know sprints well,” she said. 

She’s been pleased with Dameron’s performance, she said. 

“He’s our anchor, and he has just dropped his time by, like, five-hundredths of a second,” she said. “He’s just kind of coming into his own, because he’s starting to figure out track and field. And then we have Ty — he’s more of a middle distance runner, but he’s got a lot of raw speed,” she said. “Between the combination of the three football players that are just flat-out fast, and then my middle distance runner has a lot of speed. And they just work so well together.”

The record breaking race was their second as a relay team, and the four are not satisfied yet — after all, they finished second in Hanford. They have a strategy.

“More practice,” Middleton said. 

“And more handoffs,” Thomas added.

They’re confident that they can lower the record further, Rimple said, but they’ve still got some work to do.

“It wasn’t a perfect race,” he said.

There are still some adjustments necessary, Dameron said. 

“There are a few tweaks. We messed up a couple times, but we still broke the record,” he said. “It’s just some little things that we can fix, and get so much better.”

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.