Saddleback College assistant track and field coach Simon Arkell was recently named as the California Community College Assistant Track and Field Coach of the Year by the state track coaches association.
Arkell, who recently completed his eighth season as the pole vault coach with the Gauchos, has coached two state champions, three Southern California regional champions, and 10 conference champions at the college, including this year’s state champion in the men’s pole vault, Nick Jennings. Jennings cleared 16’ 8” to win the state title while teammate Cameron Savage cleared 15’ 8” to place fifth. Andy Miller won the state pole vault title in 2008 with a vault of 16’ 3”.
Since Arkell started coaching at Saddleback, the school record for men’s pole vault has been elevated from 15’ 6” to 17’ 1”, a mark set by Jennings this season. Arkell has had eight pole vaulters reach the 15’ 6” height or higher. He has also had five women pole vaulters reach or exceed the previous school record of 9’ 0”, including the current school record of 11’ 8” set by Alissa Miller in 2005.
“Simon means a lot to this program,” said Matt Sherman, a long-time assistant coach who was recently hired as the women’s cross country and track coach. “He could be the best pole vault coach at any college level, two-year or four-year. It’s unheard of to take a vaulter and improve their best mark by two feet, but he’s done that with almost all of our vaulters.”
Saddleback’s head track and field coach Mark Blethen agrees: “The most telling part of this award is that I did not nominate Simon for the honor this year. His colleagues from other colleges realized what he has done with our student-athletes and actually nominated him for this award. That alone speaks volumes about his success as a coach and the impression he makes amongst his peers.”
The women’s track & field team brought two athletes to the state meet at Antelope Valley over the weekend and they both had top-10 finishes by the end of the weekend. Meagan Johnson led the way for the Gauchos with a second place finish in the high jump as the team finished 20th in the state, its best performance since 1986.
Johnson’s jump of 5’5” was an eyelash from winning the state championship as Sacramento City jumper Susan Jackson jumped 5’7” for the top jump of the day. For Johnson, it equaled her jump in the Southern California regional meet and being just a freshman makes her one of the favorites to win the state title next season.
Saddleback’s other competitor, Kelly Breen, also had a fine performance at the state meet when she finished 7th in the 3000 meter steeplechase. Her time of 12:26.87 was 32 seconds off the winning pace set by Mallory Celaya of Mt. San Antonio College.
The 20th place finish by the women was the second best finish in program history and the top performance at a state meet since the Gauchos finished 5th back in 1986.
The Saddleback women's team placed 13th at the Southern California Regional track championship with Meagan Johnson (pictured) winning the high jump (5' 5") and Kelley Breen placing fifth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (11:21.98) as Saddleback played host to the championship event.
The Saddleback men's track team placed fifth at the regional finals with help from Ray Lian and AB Shaheen who both captured individual events.
Lian won the javelin with a throw of 204' 11" while Shaheen captured the hammer throw with a toss of 180' 2". Lian also added a fifth place finish in the discus (148' 0") with Dillon Bales placing seventh (144' 7"). Saddleback also scored well in the pole vault as Nick Jennings placed second (16' 7") and Cameron Savage placed sixth (15' 7").
David Hanlin placed third in the high jump (6' 9") while DJ Neumann placed fourth in the 1,500-meters (3:58.47) and Terry Tanner placed fifth in the 200-meter run (21.67 seconds).
The top finishers advance to next weekend's state championship meet hosted by Antelope Valley College in Lancaster.
Full meet results
The women’s track & field team had arguably its most impressive meet of the year, finishing 8th out of 30 teams at the Mt. SAC Relays this past weekend. The Gauchos had a number of solid performances, including three individual second place finishes.
Kelley Breen had her finest performance of the year finishing second in the steeplechase run in a time of 11:38.58. She was joined by teammates Meagan Johnson and Tia McFarlane, who both finished second in the high jump and long jump respectively. Breen’s time in the 3,000 steeplechase broke the record of Ligaya Lange back in 2003 while Johnson’s leap was just two inches off the program record set by Larissa Rootstee in 1989.
Saddleback had other top-10 performances as McFarlane also finished 6th in the 100 meters. Christina Williams finished 8th in the 400 meters while Alane Sewitsky was 9th in the triple jump. The Gauchos were also well represented in the relays, finishing 6th in the 4x100 meters (McFarlane, Williams, Whalen, Johnson) and 8th in the 4x400 meters (Whalen, Owens, Hartman, Williams).
Saddleback will be in action again this week at the SoCal Multi Meet at Cerritos College on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Saddleback track teams won the 5th annual Prairie War against Cuyamaca College on Friday afternoon, easily outdistancing the Coyotes in both men's and women's competitions for a 182-103 victory.
Tia McFarlane (pictured) won the 100- (12.51) and 200-meter (26.33) dash events as well as the long jump while Kelley Breen won the 800- (2:34), 1500- (5:28) and 3000-meter (11:25) distance events as the Saddleback women built an 82-49 cushion.
The men's team posted a 100-54 edge over the Coyotes as DJ Neumann won the 1500- (4:02) and 3000-meter (9:09) distance events, Danny Warner captured both the long jump and triple jump, and Ray Lian posted victories in both the discus and javelin.
The Saddleback track & field teams had some fine performances at the state meet this past weekend at College of San Mateo. Three individuals finished in the top-5 in their respective events as Ray Lian led the Gauchos with a second place finish in the javelin.
Kelley Breen (pictured) turned in the best performance of the weekend for the women’s team when she finished fifth in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:45.56. Breen finished comfortably ahead of the sixth place finisher and was just 26 seconds out of second place as Orange Coast athlete Cassie Mitchell ran away with the race.
Lian had his best throw of the season when he tossed the javelin 205-feet, nine inches in finishing second to Bakersfield’s Cooper Thompson. His season-best throw was nearly 22-feet farther than the third place finisher, Adam Ramoz, from San Jose City College.
Bobby Stangl also had an outstanding weekend when he finished third in the 1500-meter run with a time of 3:59.25. Stangl finished less than three seconds off the pace set by winner Carlos Perez of San Bernadino Valley College.
The men’s team finished 22nd overall in the team competition while the women’s team finished 31st in the state.
The Saddleback track & field teams competed this past week at the Orange Empire Conference championships at Orange Coast College. The men’s team had some outstanding individual performances in finishing in third place while the women’s team ended up in seventh place on the strength of four, top-10 performances.
The Saddleback women had some fine performance of their own as four Gauchos finished with top-10 performances. Christina Cain (pictured) ran the 800-meters in 2:27.34 to finish sixth in the conference finals. Kelley Breen finished sixth in the 5000-meters with a time of 18:38.16. Sue Rodriguez was eighth in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 18.24 and seventh in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:09.72.
On the men's side, Saddleback made a statement in the distance races as Matt Van Dyke and Bobby Stangl both won events for the Gauchos. Stangl completed the 1500-meter race in a time of 4:04.96 to take home first place while Van Dyke captured the 5000-meters with a time of 15:36.06. Saddleback altogether dominated the 5000-meters, as Stangl finished second in the event while A.J. Kimura finished seventh.
It was the seventh time in eight years that the Saddleback men’s team has finished in third place in the Orange Empire Conference. Riverside Community College captured the conference title with Orange Coast College in second place.
The Saddleback men's and women's track and field teams claimed victories in several events at the Orange Empire Conference championships on Saturday and will send eight athletes on to compete at the Southern California regional prelims next weekend.
In women's track and field, Kelley Breen (pictured) won a conference title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase event with a time of 11:36.
Ray Lian won the men's javelin with a toss of 194' 2" on his last throw of the day and Matt Van Dyke added a conference title in the 10,000-meters with a time of 33:02. He finished fourth in this event last year and improved his time by over 50 seconds this season.
In addition to these three conference champions, Saddleback will also send Matt Garcia (high jump), Rick Fenton (shot put), Colin McRoberts (steeplechase) and AJ Kimura (10,000 meters) to the regional meet along with Katie Rauschl (women's javelin).
While other Saddleback students were enjoying their spring break, the men's and women's track teams hosted its second track meet of the week and were successful in defeating Santa Ana College on Friday afternoon.
The men's team posted a 98-48 victory over the Dons and the women's team posted a 62-50 victory over its Santa Ana counterparts.
For the men, Bobby Stangl won both the 800-meters (2:00.35) and the 1,500-meters (4:07.65) while Dru Peebles won the 110-meter high hurdles (16.09), the 400-meter intermediate hurdles (1:01.67), and the long jump (5.83 meters). Ray Lian captured the discus (44.23 meters) and the javelin (58.83 meters) while Matt Van Dyke (8:55.74) missed a school record in the 3,000-meters by about two-thirds of one second.
In the women's competition, Katie Rauschl was a six-event winner posting victories in the 100-meters (14.40), the 200-meters (30.68), the 100-meter hurdles (18.35), the high jump (1.17 meters), long jump (4.10 meters), and javelin throw (25.60 meters). Christina Cain won the 400-meters (1:14.31), Kelley Breen won the 3,000-meters (10:58.35), and Rachel Tears (pictured) won the pole vault (10' 0").
Saddleback's home track meet against Fullerton came down to the final race - the men's 4x400 relay - to determine a winner and, despite leading the race for 1,400 meters, it was Fullerton cutting the tape and earning the conference win in the St. Patrick's Day meet.
It was a team effort which put Saddleback in contention to begin with as Nick Provencio won the 400-meter dash (51.31), Mike Wessendorf led a Saddleback sweep in the 800-meters (2:00.87), Bobby Stangl captured the 1,500-meter run (4:08.16), and Matt Van Dyke captured the 3,000-meters (9:16.08). Dru Peebles was able to win the 110-meter hurdles (16.40) and placed second in the 400-meter hurdles (1:02.47) and Ray Lian won both the javelin (184' 3") and the discus (140' 6") while Rick Fenton won the shot put and Griffin Simmons won the pole vault (15' 6"). But Fullerton's anchor runner in the 4x400 relay was able to catch Saddleback on the final turn and hold on down the stretch to edge the Gauchos by three seconds and earn Fullerton an 81-72 victory.
The women's meet was not as close with Fullerton's depth proving to be the difference in a 93-47 Hornet win. However, Saddleback dominated the distance events as Christina Cain captured the 800-meters (2:35.13) and Kelley Breen (pictured) led a Saddleback sweep in both the 1,500-meters (4:59.04) and the 3,000-meters (11:20.43). Katie Rauschl won both the shot put (8.8 meters) and javelin (103' 5") and Rachel Tears captured the pole vault after clearing 10' 9".
The Gauchos will host Santa Ana College on Friday, March 20.
Because Saddleback's newly installed track was not yet ready for use, Friday's track meet was moved to Cerritos College where the Gauchos and Falcons were joined by El Camino and Palomar colleges in a four-team meet. Saddleback coaches were pleased with the team's performance, including a pair of victories for Ray Lian in both the javelin and discus. His 180' 7" mark in the javelin matched his personal best and he also recorded a toss of 147' 2" in the discus. A.B. Shaheen had a throw of 115' 1" in the hammer, the fifth-best mark in school history. And Matt Van Dyke finished second in the 1500-meter run (4:06.82) then came back to place second again in the 3,000-meter (9:15.46) to establish a new personal best in that event. It was the eighth best time in school history.
In women's competition, freshman Kelley Breen completed the 1,500-meter race in 4:58.46 to place second overall. It was the sixth fastest time in school history. She also posted the third best time in school history in the 3,000-meters as she placed second overall (10:49.06). Sophomore Sue Rodriguez placed fourth in the 400-meter hurdles (1:10.29), posting the seventh fastest time in school history.