If Cheney track and field coach Derek Slaughter has learned anything in his young, successful career, it’s to recruit the hallways.
Spring-heeled basketball players. Fleet-footed football players. Sizable, strong-armed wrestlers, and anyone else who wouldn’t have otherwise joined Slaughter’s two-time defending State 2A champion boys team if not for a little convincing.
Senior sprinter and multisport standout Camden VerStrate is the Blackhawks’ latest revelation.
VerStrate, who has tentative plans to walk on to the Idaho football team in August, ran his first competitive 100- and 200-meter sprints since middle school last month.
All he did was clock in at 10.74 seconds, the second-best mark in program history behind 2018 state champion Charles Johnson (10.65), now a freshman sprinter at Washington State.
VerStrate also recorded a time of 22.09 in the 200, which also ranks second behind Johnson (21.48) – and in March, when sprinters rarely post their best times.
His recent marks both rank in the top six in Washington in all classifications, according to Athletic.net
“I was pretty surprised,” said VerStrate, a receiver and running back in the fall and high-scoring guard in the winter. “I knew I was quick, but I wasn’t sure I’d be that fast running downhill.”
Slaughter wasn’t surprised.
“When the sprinters did their first couple workouts, you could just tell he was very fast,” Slaughter said. “In short sprints, he would have pretty big gaps on everyone else.
“He’s a good, all-around athlete and a fierce competitor, so I’m not surprised to see it translate to track.”
VerStrate would have helped an already loaded Cheney track team the last three years, but his freshman and sophomore spring seasons were reserved for soccer, leading the Blackhawks in goals. He nursed an injury last year.
“We’ve had some great sprinters here over the years,” Slaughter said. “And already (VerStrate) is chasing the records of Charles. That’s what he’s aiming for.”
VerStrate’s goals exceed well beyond the Great Northern League and 2A class.
“I think I can keep improving,” he said. “I don’t only want to be in the top in all of Washington, but at the top of that list.”
VerStrate and teammates Jacob McGourin (discus), Ryan Riekmann (javelin) and Julian Torres (800) – among the state’s best in their respective events – will compete this weekend in the prestigious Arcadia Invitational near Los Angeles.
at new schools
Last year, then-freshman Cheney leaper Cole Omlin had the ninth-best triple jump mark (43 feet, 9 inches) in 2A.
He’s now at Ferris and is atop the 4A class, according to early-season results.
Omlin, the son of longtime area jumps coach Bob Omlin, recorded a 47-4 last week at the Howard Dolphin Invitational at West Valley.
The Greater Spokane League’s top girls sprinter is Lewis and Clark junior Samiah Kuntz, a former Mead athlete.
Kuntz is tops among GSL athletes in the 100 (12.8) and 200 (26.6). She was among the 2B level’s top sprinters as a freshman at Northwest Christian before transferring to Mead last year, where she was an All-Greater Spokane League selection (1,600 relay).