News: MCB Hawaii teens soar in track, field events
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - Four Marine Corps Base Hawaii teens took home first place victories at the 2014 Oahu Interscholastic Association Varsity (and Junior Varsity) Eastern Division Track Championships at Kaiser High School, April 4 and 5, 2014 as well as the OIA Junior Varsity Track Championship at Mililani High School, April 12, 2014.
Makai Clemons, Corey and Percie Lyons and James Mocarski represented the Kalaheo Mustangs in the past two weeks and are currently preparing for upcoming competitions.
Makai Clemons, an 11th-grader, received first place in the Boys 1,500 and 3,000 Meter-Run Varsity events during the April 5 event.
“He’s very dedicated as far as his diet, his workout (and) his sleep,” said Clemons’ mother, Malia, the family readiness officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367. “He trains year-round.”
When Makai initially chose to participate in cross-country, he started running with his parents and was hooked, and joined track and field.
“I’m proud of (my accomplishments),” Makai said. “Since last year especially, I’ve come a long way. I think the beginning of last year my (3,000-meter run) time was 10.15 and I brought it down to 9 minutes flat. But there’s still work to be done, (more goals) I want to achieve.”
Corey, a 10th-grader, set a record and received first place in the Boys Pole-Vault Junior Varsity event with a score of 11 feet, 6 inches during the April 4 event. During the April 12 competition, he also took first place in the Boys Pole-Vault Junior Varsity event.
“I was really proud of (my performance at Eastern), because I won the meet and set the record for that meet, so I was really happy,” said the 16-year-old athlete. “I was really hyped about (the April 12 results) too. I was kind of upset that I didn’t make 12.1, but (there’s another chance) next week.”
Percie, an 11th-grader, received first place in the Girls 800, 1,500 and 3,000-Meter Run Varsity events during the April 5 event. The 17-year-old athlete ran 2 minutes, 34.36 seconds in the 800-meter, 5 minutes, 13.59 seconds in the 1,500-meter and 11 minutes, 41.46 seconds in the 3,000-meter.
“I’m extremely proud of (Corey and Percie),” said their father, Maj. Tony Lyons, the aircraft maintenance officer of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24 and Marine Aircraft 24. “They do well because of the work they put into it.”
Although she was happy with her scores, Lyons said she eventually hopes to bring her 1,500-meter time down to 5 minutes, 8 seconds.
“The girls got second overall and the boys got first,” she said. “I was proud of our team for coming together and doing that (well).”
Mocarski, a 12th-grader, received first place with a score of 11 feet in the Boys Pole-Vault Varsity event during the April 5 event.
“The feeling after you know that your jump was spot on, (is) the feeling that I try to shoot for every single meet,” Mocarski said. “That’s the feeling that keeps me into the sport, when everything is perfect.”
“I can already tell the difference between day one and where we’re at now,” said his coach 2nd Lt. Paul Neidhardt. “It’s just unfortunate that he’s not a freshman and I don’t have three or four more years to try to (perfect his technique).”
Corey and Mocarski receive training from Neidhardt, an arms, ammunition and explosives officer and maintenance management officer with Marine Aircraft Group 24.
Neidhardt, 24, of Snellville, Ga., was involved in track and field from his first year of high school until his last year at the U.S. Naval Academy, and was the 2008 5A Georgia High School Association State pole-vault champion.
During a squadron event, Tony Lyons heard about Neidhardt’s experience and asked if he would coach.
“If I put myself in his shoes as a young 24, 25 year old, I probably wouldn’t have been volunteering my time at a high school like he does,” Tony Lyons said. “It speaks a lot to his character and his willingness to give back to the community.”
Neidhardt called pole-vaulting the “gymnastics” of track and field, in that it takes years of practice to perfect each technique. With Corey and Mocarski, he does not have years, and initially spent a lot of time breaking their ingrained bad habits and improving techniques.
“I really enjoy coaching them,” Neidhardt said. “They come (ready) to work every day and you want to see them do good. To see the result that we got at JVOIAs was really good to see.”
All four teens have several competitions ahead of them, including the OIA Qualifying Meet at Castle High School, April 26 at 3 p.m., and the OIA Varsity Championship May 1 at 3:30 p.m., and May 3 at 3 p.m. at Mililani High School. The Hawaii High School Athletic Association Championship is scheduled May 9 and 10 at the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Campus.
Makai is currently qualified to compete in the HHSAA. Corey will compete in the April 19 OIA Punahou Relays and still needs to qualify to compete in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Championship.
Percie competed in the April 17 Punahou Relays and will also compete in the OIA Varsity Championships May 1 and 3. She is already qualified to compete in the HHSAA. Mocarski will compete in the April 19 OIA Punahou Relays and still needs to qualify to compete in the HHSAA.
For more information, visit www.oiasports.com.