Coach Bob Jenkins doesn’t ask such questions. He’s just enjoying the
ride. The Bees have won 39 dual meets in a row and have their sights set on a strong finish to the regular season and beyond. “We have great overall talent,” Jenkins says. “And when it comes to the state meet, it all comes down to having stud athletes.” No problem there.
There’s apparently no such thing on the Medina boys track team. Those kids seem to do everything.
Ruben Belen specializes in the high jump and hurdles, but he can also heave the shot a long way. Sam Maynard is one of the premier distance runners in the state, but he can blaze the track in the 400. And Donnie Roys is a 1,600-meter specialist who can also fly in the 400 and is even one of the premier high school steeplechase runners in the country.
What in the name of Bruce Jenner is going on here?
Coach Bob Jenkins doesn’t ask such questions. He’s just enjoying the ride. The Bees have won 39 dual meets in a row. They placed eighth in the state in 2006 after winning the Division I regional and finishing 14th in Columbus a year ago following a second-place regional performance.
“We have great overall talent,” Jenkins says. “And when it comes to the state meet, it all comes down to having stud athletes.”
No problem there. Belen, who has already landed a scholarship to Kent State, is grooming for the decathlon. He broke the school record in the high jump at 6-foot-8, has cleared 21 feet in the long jump and has tossed the shot 40 feet. He will also shoot for a state berth in the 110 hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles.
Belen believes the training methods required to maximize performance in any one of those events prove beneficial to all. And that’s important to a guy working to be a decathlete in college.
“You’re training different parts of your body, whether it’s your upper body or lower body, for each event,” Belen explains. “So you’re going to be strong in almost any event you want to do. The better I run, the better I throw. I can be a solid athlete in every event I want to be in.”
There’s one catch, however. Not all decathlon events are featured at the high school level. That means Belen must find time to work on such skills as the javelin throw.
The same holds true for the steeplechase, which is in essence a 3,000-meter run with 28 barriers to test the athleticism and will of its participants. Roys qualified for nationals in that event heading into his sophomore year and finished sixth in the Nike Outdoor Meet in Greensboro, N.C., last summer.
For now, however, Roys is gearing for a run at the state meet, which eluded him in 2007, greatly because of a generic allergy medicine that sapped his strength and weakened his performance in postseason events. Roys proved his ability last fall by winning the Division I state cross country meet with a blistering time of 15:21.
Though Roys is gearing toward a long run to Columbus (figuratively, of course), it means more to him as a contribution to the team effort than as an individual achievement. After all, teams earn points in track only through the performance of its participants.
“(Qualifying for state) has always been important, but I always try to put the team before anything else,” Roys explains. “But I do have a target on my back because I won state cross country in the fall.”
Maynard, who specializes in the 800 and 1,600, qualified for the state cross country meet as well in 2007. He also teamed with Roys on a 4 x 800 quartet that placed second in the state last year and managed the 11th-best time in the country. Only the Cleveland Heights foursome prevented the Bees from winning that event.
It’s no wonder Maynard is headed to UNC-Asheville on a full track scholarship. But, like Roys, he is still looking to qualify for state in an individual event. And that would quite likely be the 1,600 meters.
“I have a hard time really enjoying these events when I’m running in them, but I do enjoy the accomplishments,” Maynard admits. “If I make it, it will probably be in the mile. I do really like the mile. My goal is to place in the state meet, which would mean getting into the top eight.”
The Bees are abuzz about their dual-meet winning streak that has reached 39. But with the state meet on the horizon, the all understand that they have bigger fish to fry.