Linkul, Johnson qualify for junior national championships |

Linkul, Johnson qualify for junior national championships

If the early bird catches the worm, then the early hound pleases the master.

That’s just what Lake Tahoe Hounds Track Club members Ben Johnson and Bob Linkul have done for their coach Anthony Davis. The Whittell High School products qualified for junior nationals at last weekend’s Region 14 Track Championships in Union City, Calif.

“All 10 kids involved in the Lake Tahoe Hounds Track Club have been very dedicated this year because we have been practicing at 6 a.m. Tuesday through Friday. A lot of kids want to sleep in during the summer. The reason we train at 6 is we get no conflicts. So if you want to be a Lake Tahoe Hound, you have to get up and train early,” Davis said. “The two kids who made it have trained hard for over a year to reach this goal.”

Johnson qualified in the intermediate boys 2,000-meter steeplechase, finishing in a dead heat for first place with a time of 7 minutes, 23 seconds.

“The other kid was just ahead with two meters left and Ben made a huge sprint run and finished even. Only a picture would have been able to tell who really won that race,” said Davis of a race that requires jumping four 36-inch barriers and a negotiating water jump on each of the five laps. “I haven’t seen Ben run like that in a while. It was nice to have him back.”

Meanwhile, the Mesa Junior College-bound Linkul continued his superb season. The Nevada state discus runner-up won the regional discus with a toss of 155 feet, 1 inches. In addition, Linkul qualified third in the young men’s 17-18 javelin with a personal-best throw of 145-6.

“That’s only after throwing since June,” said Davis of Linkul, who wasn’t able to throw the javelin during his high school career.

Only the top three finishers in each event advanced to nationals.

Other Hounds to crack the top 10 at regionals were Dan Wexelblatt, fifth, youth 13-14 shot put, 39-11 and, seventh, javelin, 125-1, a 13-foot improvement over his previous all-time best; and Joey Suder, eighth, youth 13-14, shot put, 32-1, and, eighth, discus, 106-5.

To tune up for the July 27 through Aug. 1 USA Track and Field Junior Nationals in Omaha, Neb., the Hounds will compete at the 22nd annual Track City Classic in the track hotbed of Eugene, Ore.

“We’re going to USA track and field heaven,” Davis said.

Anyone in the community desiring to contribute to make the national trip less expensive for Linkul and Johnson, should contact Davis at (530) 541-1873.

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