May 8, 2021 — On May 5, Mapleton hosted its final track meet of the season at home. Seven other schools from the 1A District 2 League were in attendance, and in addition to finishing first with Personal Records (PRs) in several events, both Sailors teams took fourth place overall in the meet.
Mapleton’s boys team fared quite well in all participated events. On the field, JJ Neece took first place in shot put, javelin and the triple jump, setting PRs in the shot put (38-5.5) and the javelin (158-3). Neece is currently ranked first in Mapleton’s league for the javelin, second for the 100 meters, fourth in triple jump and fifth in shot put.
On the track, Joe Shepard also had a standout day, finishing first in the 1500 meters with a time of 4:55.00a. Shepard, who is currently first in the league for the 1500M, explained, “Initially, for the 1500, I didn't think I was going to run very fast because, in ninth grade, I didn't run very well. [In today’s] race, I was aiming for a 5:20, but once I got running, I felt really comfortable. Then it was like, ‘Okay, I got this!’”
Shepherd also took second in both the 3000 meters and triple jump, setting a new PR in the 3000M with a time of 11:27.84a.
Shepard, who also played football for the Sailors, is a well-rounded athlete, with his primary passion being ballroom dance. As a junior, he is currently fielding schools across the country for their dance programs but appreciates the way being an athlete at Mapleton has helped round out his overall athletic experience.
“I think dance has really helped me,” said Shepard. “It's helped me be active for track, too. Track is an awesome sport, I love it! It gives you time to develop yourself, and I feel like dance is sort of the same way. I think having both activities is really cool; it helps me develop a well-rounded personality.”
The girls team also had some great performances for the day. Opal Burruss finished first in the 1500 meters, setting a new PR of 5:59.00a. Burruss, who has been running track since the sixth grade, had a personal goal for the season to finish the 1500M in under 6 minutes, which she met in this final meet on Wednesday.
“It’s been good to get back in shape,” said Burruss, whose other goal for this short track season was to get in shape for the upcoming basketball season. “I want to say ‘thank you’ to the school for making [the season] happen.”
Burruss also finished second in the triple jump with a 24-1.5, and third in the 800 meters with a time of 3:15.14a. Her time in the 1500M put her in second place for the league, and she is also fourth in the league for triple jump.
Also notable was Emily Neece’s performance on the field, where she placed second in the discus, setting a PR of 63-9.5, and third place in the shot put, throwing a 25-2.
Although the season’s events are complete, Mapleton does have a chance to compete in the post-season. According to Running Coach Lou Burruss, “We didn’t have that many kids, but they did great stuff. We’ll just kind of see what happens in terms of kids going to state; I think we’ll send a few kids, it just kind of depends on how things shake out.”
The 1A State Track and Field Championship is scheduled for Saturday, May 22 at the Eastern Oregon University Banner Bank Track, beginning at 10 a.m.