He starred as a track athlete at College Place High. Now he’s making his mark in NCAA

Caleb Olson out-duels Kenneth Rooks for Richland Invite crown

Hanford's Caleb Olson needed the fastest 3-mile time in the state this season to put away College Place's Kenneth Rooks in the Boys Division I Race at the Max Jensen Richland Invitational on Friday.
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Hanford's Caleb Olson needed the fastest 3-mile time in the state this season to put away College Place's Kenneth Rooks in the Boys Division I Race at the Max Jensen Richland Invitational on Friday.

Anyone who follows cross country or track and field in this region knows that Kenneth Rooks can run.

The College Place High School graduate won state high school cross country titles at Sun Willows in 2015 and 2017.

So maybe it should be no surprise that Rooks, a true freshman at Brigham Young University, qualified for the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final on Wednesday night in Austin, Texas, at the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships.

Rooks actually was one of four runners from BYU who qualified for the finals, set for Friday night.

The four Cougars qualifiers ties an NCAA record for most runners from the same school in the event’s final.

On Wednesday, Rooks finished seventh in his heat, crossing the finish line in 8 minutes, 54.39 seconds.

There are three other Mid-Columbians competing the the championships.

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BYU junior Andrea Stapleton-Johnson is shown in this file photo. Nate Edwards BYU Photo

Hanford graduate Ben Kelly ran the anchor leg for the Iowa State men’s 4x400 relay team in the prelims on Wednesday night. Kelly’s team finished fourth in its heat in 3:06.04. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough to advance to the finals.

On Friday night, Walla Walla High School grad Mitch Jacobson will compete in the men’s high jump. Jacobson jumps for Washington State University.

Finally, Kamiakin High graduate Andrea Stapleton-Johnson, competing for BYU, will participate in the women’s high jump on Saturday.

Stapleton-Johnson is one of the top women’s high jumpers in the nation.

Kamiakin signings

Here’s a look at who was at Kamiakin High School’s signing ceremony last week:

Austin Almaguer, men’s wrestling, Campbell University; Gavin Ayers, baseball, Wenatchee Valley Community College; Caleb Beasley, baseball, Columbia Basin College; Symone Brown, women’s basketball, Central Washington University; Jordan Chase, baseball, Wenatchee Valley Community College; Brent Child, football, Pacific Lutheran University; Ryan Child, men’s track and field, Air Force Academy; Lydia Crumpler, women’s track and field, Carroll College; Britney Donais, women’s soccer, Northern Colorado; Jaden Eder, men’s soccer, North Idaho College; Brayden Freitag, men’s track and field, Eastern Washington University; River Holle, women’s soccer, Weber State; Kyle Holler, football, Whitworth University; Lynsie Miracle, softball, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth; Maddie Morgan, women’s soccer, Eastern Washington University; Parker Morgan, men’s track and field, Utah Valley University; Jake Mulholland, baseball, Blue Mountain Community College; Katherine Petsch, women’s track and field, Eastern Washington University; Brielle Schneider, women’s soccer, Walla Walla Community College; Lilian Thurber, women’s swimming, Life University (Georgia); Oumou Toure, women’s basketball, Butler University; Trystan Vrieling, baseball, Gonzaga University; Kaeri Ward, women’s soccer, University of Montevallo; Abby Winstead, women’s track and field, Eastern Oregon University.

MCC softball

Here’s a look at the Mid-Columbia Conference all-conference softball team, voted on by the conference coaches a few weeks ago:

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Annalisa McKinney, Chiawana, is shown in this file photo. Courtesy of Chiawana High School

Chiawana senior Annalisa McKinney, who played first base and pitched, was named player of the year.

Casey Emery, who led the Richland Bombers to a third-place finish at the 4A state tournament a couple weeks ago, was named coach of the year.

In fact, the Bombers – who absolutely dominated the MCC with a 16-0 record – had seven players on the first team.

They are sophomore third baseman Taylor Clark, senior shortstop Emily Garza, junior outfielder Rylee Gavaert, senior designated hitter Hayley McKay, junior pitcher Kaylie Northrop, junior first baseman Addison Pettit, and sophomore catcher Rikki Scott.

Kennewick and Hermiston each had two players on the first team.

The Lions’ Abriel Johnson-Cuello, a junior second baseman, and junior catcher Bailey Warren made the first team.

Meanwhile, junior utility player Bailee Noland and senior shortstop Sydney Stefani represent Hermiston.

The remaining first-teamers are Walla Walla senior outfielder Alexis Barreras, Kamiakin senior second baseman Lynsie Miracle, Hanford junior pitcher Annie Polster, and Chiawana senior outfielder Sadie Search.

Here is the second team: Southridge sophomore outfielder McKenna Crum; Kennewick sophomore shortstop Amaya Davis; Hanford sophomore DH Mirina Enderlin; Kamiakin sophomore utility player Hannah Jablonski; Kennewick sophomore pitcher Claire Jenne; Hermiston junior outfielder Daisy Maddox; Chiawana’s McKinney at first base and pitcher; Richland junior outfielder Makenna Ozuna; Richland senior second baseman Sydney Perryman; and Hermiston sophomore third baseman Grace Studer.


• Jim Neeway has been named the new head girls cross country coach at Pasco High School.

• Dillon Plew’s father, Jeff, said his son will likely meet with the Houston Astros in the next few days to talk contract and determine where he will play this summer. Dillon Plew was drafted in the 40th round of the MLB Draft this week by the Astros.

• Former Tri-City American Parker Bowles, who played here from 2011-16, will play this coming season for a Czech Republic professional team called Orli Znojmo. Bowles just finished this season with Lillehamer in Norway.

• Rainier Beach shooting guard MarJon Beauchamp is transferring to Bella Vista Prep of Scottsdale, Ariz., for his upcoming senior season. It’s a team that should be nationally ranked this season. It also means Beauchamp will have played four seasons of varsity basketball for four different schools: Nathan Hale, Garfield, Rainier Beach, and now Bella Vista Prep.

• Hermiston product Roy Robles finished his junior season with 21-24 Missouri Western State, going 0-2 and pitching 34 innings. Robles was effectively the team’s No. 3 pitcher, ranking third in WHIP at 2.03, least number of hits surrendered with 32, strikeouts at 44, and opponent batting average at .246. Robles spent the previous two seasons pitching for Blue Mountain Community College.