Ready to roar: Lions track and field team on pace for another successful run

Before Vaughn Daggs school-record-setting, 11.22-second 100-meter run on March 19, Auburn Mountainview Lions coach Joel MacDougall struck a deal with him.

Before Vaughn Daggs school-record-setting, 11.22-second 100-meter run on March 19, Auburn Mountainview Lions coach Joel MacDougall struck a deal with him.

“MacDougall said if I broke the 100 (record), he would buy me McDonald’s,” the AMHS junior said.

Daggs is still waiting, ready to get his fill at the Golden Arches.

“I’m going to get as much stuff as I can,” he said.

The same holds true for the rest of the Auburn Mountainview boys track team, which is primed to garner a whole lot of shiny hardware for the school’s trophy case this season.

MacDougall said this year’s squad could be the best he has ever coached.

“This group of juniors that we have right now are the best athletes I’ve seen here,” MacDougall said. “The big thing for us this year is having not just one person in an event but having two or three. It not only increases the competitiveness within the team, but also when we go to the meets we have three people that place in the event.

“And there is really not any area that we aren’t good at,” he added. “We have some really good distance kids. Our freshmen, who started with us last year, are getting good. Suddenly, we’ve just got a real balanced team.”

That has already paid off with a 102-43 South Puget Sound League 3A dual win against Sumner on March 19, and a first-place finish at the Cardinal Relays this past Saturday.

“I feel like Pete Carroll has stolen our line because we’ve been saying it for years. We’ll take athletes over fast kids because athletes will compete … that’s our philosophy,” MacDougall said. “If we can get competing kids out here, you’ll see better marks and better times. I mean, it’s nice to have the fast kids around still, kids like Gavin (Robertson) who can jump out the gym, and kids who are powerful runners and can get us points in any event.”

Like his teammate, Daggs, Robertson has been hot out of the gate, posting a school-record triple jump of 44 feet, 6 1/2 inches against Sumner. The distance is the second best in all classifications in the state this season, with Bear Creek senior Jonathan Magee having the longest leap at 45-5 1/4.

“I wasn’t surprised by Gavin. We knew what he was capable of,” MacDougall said. “Last year with the injuries he wasn’t able to do much except for in a few meets.”

Robertson agreed.

“I expected to come out pretty good and do better than I did last year,” Robertson said. “We did pretty good as a team coming out. I think it’s the start of a great year. The boys team is real strong. Last year we had some good people in selected events. This year we’re good all around. Everything is adding up, and I think we’re going to do pretty good as a team. Everybody gets along and knows each other.”

In addition to Daggs and Robertson, the Lions have a standout in the shot put with senior Trevor Jensen, who is first in the state 3A rankings with a throw of 50-5 1/4.

The Lions’ 400 relay team also is among the best in the state with Victor Daggs, Vaughn Daggs, Robertson and Michael Causley posting a 43.79, sixth best in the state in all classifications.

“And we’ve got a four-by-four-hundred relay team we’re pretty proud of,” MacDougall said.

The Lions’ 1,600 relay team is first in the SPSL 3A with Adam Knyaz, Jake Weathers, Ki’Jan Weisinger and Justan Hardaway posting a 3:38.79.

MacDougall pointed out that Weisinger still holds the Auburn School District middle school 800 record.

“He’s one of the top in the state right now,” he said.

Junior distance runner Christian Rotter, who normally plays for the Auburn Mountainview boys soccer team in the spring, adds depth.

“For soccer, I have club, and we’re getting to the point where I’m looking at colleges for that,” Rotter said. “So I decided to come out and try something different.”

Across the board, MacDougall said numbers are up for the program, with 65 kids turning out for the boys team.

More important, he has been the level of buy-in for the team’s core.

“We just tell every kid to just go out and compete,” MacDougall said. “We tell them to compete against yourself, compete against your body, compete against your teammates and compete against your opponents. And it’s starting to work. You can see the kids out there pressing themselves.”

And if they find themselves struggling, they can always look to the leadership of Daggs and Robertson.

“The other thing we’re really looking for with Gavin and Vaughn is that we really want to see some leadership, especially with Gavin. He’s not a rah-rah, vocal leader. He’s very quiet. But when he kills a workout, other kids see it and emulate it,” MacDougall said.

That’s just fine with Robertson.

“Basically, coach told me just to lead by example. I’m not a real vocal guy,” Robertson said.

“Coach talked to us about it so, we had to step up,” Daggs said. “I kind of lead by example because I don’t like talking too much. I just like doing the workouts and trying to be a leader.”

ALSO: The Raven boys look to make their mark on the SPSL 3A and beyond this spring with a trio of front-runners setting the pace. Among them are junior hurdler Chris McGraw. Already this season McGraw is closing in on last year’s personal records (PRs) in the 110 and 300 hurdles. He has already posted a 49.32 in the 300, just shy of his PR of 47.48 from last season. In the 110, his 17.43 set in the league jamboree on March 14 is encroaching on his PR of 17.16 set last season. … Also leading the charge for the Auburn Riverside boys is senior sprinter Ronald Lashley, who posted a PR of 24.45 in the 200 against Peninsula on March 19. Lashley also runs the 100. … Senior distance runner Dax Tate posted PRs already this season in the 1,600 (4:47.94) and 3,200 (10:35.92). …

Auburn senior Avery Wade has added the long jump to his repertoire this season. He posted a leap of 17-8 3/4 against Lakes on March 19. Last year Wade made it to the district meet in the high jump, where he climbed 6-0, the same height he posted in the jamboree and against Lakes this season. His personal best in the event is a 6-2. … Look for senior Malik Williams to continue to improve. He has already set a PR of 11.74 in the 100 and competes in the long and triple jumps as well. … The Trojan throwers are always a strength with this squad. Look for any of their top guys – seniors Ryan Topdjian and Jacob Minten, and juniors Demetreus Taua and Kirkland Strickland – to make their mark in the SPSL 3A shot put and discus.