Southwest off and running


Only five meets into the season, Southwest’s track team began to see personal records fall.

Led by seniors Robert Humphries, Kameron Kelley and Juliauna Sierra, the Trojans and Lady Trojans have lofty goals this year, hoping to use its strengths in distance running to reach the state meet in May.

“Robert, Kameron and Juliauna have been around track for four years and have accepted the leadership roles nicely,” said Steve Voyak, Southwest track coach. “Robert is one of the top distance runners in the area and earned All-State in cross country last fall. He will have a chance to medal in many races, but would like to return to the state meet at Jeff City in May. He plans to run the 2-mile, mile and 800 and pick two of those to focus on.

“Kameron is running less miles and focusing on shorter races and has been doing some jumper workouts to get ready for high jump. Juliauna plans to compete in the 200 and 400 and throw javelin and focus on the long jump.”

Humphries showed his drive in Monett on April 2, running a 4:44.2 in the mile and a 10:28.74 in the 2-mile to establish personal bests in both races and put himself among the state leaders in those categories. He also won the mile (4:49.64) and 2-mile (10:33.92) at the Bordertown Relays in Seneca.

“He wants to make it to state in as many events as possible, so he is putting in the work and putting up some nice numbers early in the season,” Voyak said.

Letterwinners returning with the three seniors include: junior Braydan Rose, sprinter and javelin; junior Kali Jones, middle distance, javelin and long jump; and sophomores Victor Tellez, middle distance, Tobi Smith, middle distance, and Josh Floyd, sprinter.

Six freshmen have also joined the program this season: Cali Whitcomb, sprinter and long jump; Bryar Llewellen, distance; Ryan Harris, shot put and discus; Charley Ketcher, shot put and discus; Harper Ramos, shot put and discus; and Lane Hendrix, long jump, high jump and middle distance.

One of those freshmen is already making waves in the 800-meter races. Llewellen set personal records in the 800 (2:12.75) at Seneca and was third in the mile in (5:06.70). He was also in the top 10 in both races at the ultra-competitive Blackhawks Relays in Pea Ridge.

“It’s rare to see a freshman do this so quickly, but Bryar does the work and is not scared of the competition,” Voyak said. “He has a chance to do very well in the post-season if he continues to progress at this rate.”

As the season continues, Voyak said the key to success for Southwest will be to stay focused on workouts at practice, which is where senior leadership will also play a role.

“It’s easy to get off-topic when it’s 70 degrees and sunny and school is winding down, but they have a spectacular role model in our senior distance specialist Robert Humphries,” Voyak said. “Robert comes to work every day. He doesn’t take days off and it has paid off with him being an All-State performer in both track and cross country. I know he wants to return to Jeff City this year for the state meet.”

Along with some individual opportunities, the Trojans can also see state success in its distance relay. Two years ago, the Trojans took fourth in Class 2 in the 4×800 relay.

“Our 4×800 boys relay team has a chance to be competitive if they work all season,” Voyak said. “We have been improving in our field events as well.”

Other highlights from meets so far this season include:

• Rose was 5th (12.41) in the 100 at Monett and 5th in the 400 (1:01.92) at Seneca.

• Sierra was 7th (19.97 meters) in the javelin at Seneca and 9th (19.80 meters) at Monett.

• Smith set a personal record in the 2-mile (12:00.95) at Monett, and was top eight and scored team points in 4 individual races and two relays over the three days.

• Jones was 12th in the long jump at Monett in 12 feet, 6 inches.

Southwest traveled to Pierce City on Tuesday and will go to East Newton on Thursday.