Blach finds strength in numbers

Blach Junior High isn’t one of the biggest schools in its athletic league, but the Falcons continue to have one of the best track and field teams.

That’s largely due to the popularity of the sport at the Los Altos school, co-head coach and athletic director Steve Kane said. More than a quarter of Blach’s 480 students went out for track this spring, according to Kane, which contributed to another successful season in the Valley Junior High School Athletic League.

“We’ve been very fortunate with the number of participants,” said Kane, whose 125-member team ranked among the largest he’s coached in his 22 years at Blach. “They band together really well and compete well.”

The Falcons faced eight schools over their five regular-season meets and lost just once when combining the scores of the four divisions – eighth-grade boys, eighth-grade girls, seventh-grade boys and seventh-grade girls. By division, the Falcons were 6-2.

Blach excelled at last month’s league finals as well. The school’s seventh-grade boys were crowned division champs, while the eighth-grade boys and girls teams each placed fourth and the seventh-grade girls sixth. Ten schools competed at the meet, most of them with considerably larger populations than Blach (Kennedy Middle School in Cupertino, for example, has approximately 1,400 students).

In all, 21 Falcons earned medals at the league finals, held May 17 and 18 at Graham Middle School in Mountain View.

“We were very pleased with how we finished up,” Kane said.

Three school records fell at the meet, with two of the efforts good enough to set league finals records.

Blach’s Steven Dinneen dominated the eighth-grade boys discus, setting a league finals and school record with a throw of 131 feet, 3 inches.

“He improved by more than 10 feet (this season),” said Kane, who coached the Falcons alongside Pat Koran. “He’s a good athlete who worked to develop his form.”

Eric Daetz accounted for Blach’s other victory in the eighth-grade boys division. The sprinter “worked hard on his starts” in the 100-meter dash, Kane said, and it paid off in the league finals.

Daetz and Kyle Bystrom – who took third in the 1,600 run – were also on the Falcons’ second-place 4x400 relay team with Kevin Tang and Blake Moran.

Both of Blach’s seventh-grade boys relay teams set school records. The winning 4x400 relay team of Francis Hackett, Felipe Silveira, Trevor Case and Patrick Vargas finished in 4 minutes, 5.81 seconds – a league finals record. The 4x100 relay team of Hackett, Case, Cole Botsford and Ryan Persons took second (50.56).

Case added an individual win in the 100 dash, a race in which Persons came in second.

The seventh-grade boys also received pivotal points from Athan Rowe (second in the discus and third in the shot put) and Alex Barnes (third in the high jump).

On the girls side, Krysta Korpontinos bagged a pair of medals for the Falcons. The eighth-grader won the 100 dash and anchored the victorious 4x100 relay team

“She’s really fast and won easily,” Kane said of Korpontinos, who wasn’t challenged in the 100 dash or the last leg of the relay.

Korpontinos combined forces with Rhea Bergman, Jamie Osborne and Corrina Lee to win the 4x100 relay. Bergman and Osborne then teamed with Savannah Buchner and Lindsey Arrillaga to finish second in the 4x400 relay. Arrillaga also placed second in the 1,600 and 800 runs.

Elaine Silverman added a win in the seventh-grade girls long jump and placed in the triple jump and high jump. Fellow Blach seventh-grader Victoria Klazura took second in the discus.

All of the Falcons’ medal-winners qualified for the Silicon Valley Championships, but the meet was canceled due to wet weather.

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