Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Pierre Bibbs
Sports Editor 

Mustangs field 26 athletes, and new coach


Mark Hebert

Eion Estill throws the javelin at the Glasgow Invitational last Saturday.

The Malta Mustangs have already started things off on a positive note this track season, having taken fourth place as a team in their first meet of the year.

The Malta Mustangs have returned a lot of young and athletic competitors this season, having only lost Travis Epperson to graduation.

This year's Mustangs feature 26 athletes, seven more than last year's total. Of the athletes that competed at the Scottie Invitational last Saturday, March 30, the team took fourth place with a total of 51 points.

The team was led by senior Andres Lopez, who won shot put with a personal best of 44-0, which ironically was his jersey number as a Mustang football player. Lopez also took fourth place at the Scottie Invitational 100-meter dash.

"His knee kind of bugged him all through track last year, so he didn't do much running but he is going to look to add a few running events this year," Mustangs Head Coach Jim Benn said. "In Dickinson, a lot of their football players do track there as well and the head football coach used to coach track, so they want that out of their kids."

Last Season Lopez competed at state in shot put as well as discus, taking twelfth in shot put with a throw of 43-10.5 (his former personal best) and he also took fourteenth in discus with a personal best of 121-11.

Fellow senior Michael Pugh also had a strong meet in Glasgow last Saturday, taking third in the 200 with a time of 24.64, and sixth in the 400 with a time of 56.62.

"Michael did a really nice job last year," Coach Benn said. "He's fast and he will be heavy in the sprints and relays. I will lean to him for those races a lot."

Pugh competed at last year's State B in the 100-meter dash and 200, posting times of 11.98 and 24.16 respectively.

Though he hasn't competed yet, junior Tanner Smith was Malta's closest to placing at state last season, placing eighth in high jump after clearing 5-10, which tied his personal best. Smith also competed at state in long jump and triple jump.

This season, Smith will try his hand at javelin, in an effort to give the team chances to score points in other events.

"I've always said that there are kids that if you walked into a school and lined everybody up and looked around, you would look at Tanner and go yup, he is a good athlete," Coach Benn said. "He just looks like an athlete and he is really working hard and I'm excited to see what he will do this year."

Sophomore Cormac Benn took second place in three events last Saturday in Glasgow. Running the race for the first time in his high school career, he took second in the 300 hurdles with a personal best of 46.20. He was second in the high jump after clearing 5-8, also in long jump with a leap of 18-6.5.

Benn competed in the triple and long jump events at state last season and posted a personal best of 20-.25 in long jump at last year's Havre Invitational and a personal best of 39-2.5 in triple jump at last year's Golden Eagle Invitational.

"He had a very nice freshman year," Coach Benn said. "He is a hard-working kid. He's going to add hurdles this year to kind of expand his horizons track-wise. With him and Tanner, in most meets, they were right there together, so I'm hoping to have them work together so they aren't beating each other up. "

Sophomore Cordel Salsbery posted a throw of 116-02 in discus, taking fourth in the event. His throw was five inches shy of his personal best of 116-7. which he posted at the District 2B meet last year. Salsbery proved to be an avid thrower last season, competing in the State B shot put event, where he posted a throw of 37-2.

"He made it to state last year in shot put, even though he was struggling with his shoulder and ended up missing football," Coach Benn said. "He looks really good and he is busting his butt."

Sophomore Kooper Oxarart made state in javelin last season, posting a throw of 125-5. Oxarart also competed with Epperson, Pugh, and Benn in the State B long relay posting a time of 3:46.36.

"He is doing a good job and working hard," Coach Benn said. "He was brand new to everything last year and I think he is a kid who can have strong performances for us."

Malta's coaching staff consists of Coach Benn, Assistant Coaches Fallon Handley, Kalli Rummel, and Pat Sargent.

Malta is scheduled to host their home meet, the Malta Athletic Club Invitational on Tuesday, April 23. The meet was canceled last season due to the slow snowmelt, which pushed the meet off of the schedule.


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