Lancers experiment with success on track (Track & Field Girls Home Page)
By: VYTAS MAZEIKA Daily News Staff Writer
Posted March 29
Saint Francis coach Mandy Benham is not afraid to experiment with the girls on the track and field team — and that includes her daughter.
“When I started coaching, we had graduated a lot of seniors in a lot of events and then she came out,” Benham said. “And I was like, ‘Try this, try that.’ And she was like, ‘OK.’ Now she just wants to concentrate on one thing.”
Megan Benham, a senior, ranks third in the Central Coast Section in the pole vault and cleared 11 feet Wednesday afternoon to take first place during a West Catholic Athletic League meet in Mountain View against visiting Notre Dame-Belmont, which the Lancers trounced 103-16.
The only event the Tigers won was the 1,600-meter run, with sophomore Emily Casey crossing the finish line at 5:46.81. Neither team had an entry in the 400 dash, with Notre Dame coach Mike Benedetti choosing to build his young team’s endurance by entering his runners in the 800 run instead. “ We’re running them up to drop them down,” Benedetti said.
In the past, Megan Benham has competed in the 800 run, the distance medley relay and the 3,200 relay— just to name a few. This time around, she ran away with first place in the 300 hurdles with a time of 48.93, which is two-tenths of a second shy of cracking the top five in CCS.
“Pole vault is the most important one to me, but every once in a while I’ll run like the 800 and the DMR and we have a 4 x 800-meter relay that we’ll do in really big meets,” Megan said. “I’ve been running them with the same girls, so we kind of want to break our own records. But I hate doing them. It’s so painful. But I really like the hurdles.”
Benham dislocated her shoulder in the pole vault at last year’s WCAL meet and missed six months. Hoping to land a college scholarship, she has put in countless time in the weight room to improve her upper-body strength while improving her speed on the pole vault runway at the behest of Saint Francis assistant coach Jason Hinkin.
“If you don’t do it year-round it’s a lot harder to pick up where you left off,” said Megan, who hopes to clear at least 12 feet this season. “And it’s really time consuming. A lot of times you’ll be at practice from 3 to like 7:30. So it’s pretty hard, but I think it’s worth it.”
“I think all the running that he had her do has made her faster in the 300 hurdles,” coach Benham said. “So this is working out for everything.”
Saint Francis sophomore Lauren Johnson broke the school record in the triple jump earlier this month at the K-Bell Invitational with a jump of 39-9½, which is second best in CCS this year. Against Notre Dame she took first with a distance of 35-0¾, but that wasn’t all. Of course, her coach experimented with the 110 hurdles where Johnson won with a time of 16.81.
“We’re just putting her in hurdles to try her out,” Benham said.
Freshman Lindsey Arrillaga pulled away during the 800 run (2:27.60), which seems to be her main event. But Arrillaga will have her range tested this season, with her coach considering the 400 dash as a way to improve her speed.
“I might even put her in the 200 just to really try to get her moving those long legs around,” Benham said.
In the field, softball convert Mary Data swept the discus throw (113-3) and the shot put (36-9). The senior has top 5 CCS marks in both events. Kristina Bassi cleared 4-10 to win the high jump and Kathleen Garrity went 14-10 to claim the long jump.
Garrity was the runner-up in the 100 dash, her time just sixth hundreths shy of teammate Jessica Roey’s 12.96. Marisa Padilla won the 200 dash (26.24) and Indigo Cowherd prevailed in the 3,200 run (13:25.57).