Ortiz, Hoynoski duel; Mohawk tops Tech

  • Franklin Tech’s Owen Ortiz is one of the top triple-jumpers in the state and he showed off his winning form on Friday when his distance of 40 feet, 10½ inches earned him a win in Buckland. His Eagles suffered a 92-33 loss to Mohawk Trail Regional High School. Recorder Intern/Andrew Cyr

  • Franklin Tech’s Owen Ortiz (left) and Mohawk’s Seth Hoynoski are two of the top triple-jumpers in western Mass. and both braved the elements in Buckland on Friday during a competitive event that saw Ortiz leap to a personal-best to win the event. The Warriors won the meet, 92-33. Recorder INtern/Andrew Cyr

  • Mohawk distance-runner Aidan Sandvik won both the mile and 800, and tied for first in the high jump, Friday afternoon in Buckland where his Warriors posted a 92-33 win over Franklin Tech. Recorder Intern/Andrew Cyr

Recorder Staff
Published: 4/21/2017 11:22:23 PM

As precipitation fell around him, Owen Ortiz stayed focused. He intently jumped in place, staying warm, staying loose. The conditions weren’t ideal, with the increasing mist that felt more and more like rain sticking to his warm-up suit. Temperatures hovered just below 50 degrees, the dampness making for an even chillier feel in the Hilltowns.

A Red Sox hat atop his head, Ortiz nodded to encouraging teammates and well-wishers as he waited his turn on Friday in Buckland. The first round of triple jumps had peaked his interest.

He stared across the runway at the reason why.

Seth Hoynoski reached for some outerwear, pulling his Under Armour top and Adidas sweatpants over his track singlet to offer some relief from the deteriorating conditions. The gear dons him in all black, a dominant color fit for his current standing atop the leaderboard.

His first of three leaps in the triple jump had set the bar high. Flanked by teammates Zach Coburn and Bennett Boucias, he remained focused on the rest of his competitors. Despite a quiet confidence, thanks in large part to improved health following a hip flexor injury during the winter, Hoynoski knew the event wasn’t his just yet.

“I’m definitely watching him,” Hoynoski says later of Ortiz.

And for good reason. Ortiz, a standout senior for the Franklin County Technical School co-op team, has been pushed. Hoynoski, the star junior of perennial power Mohawk Trail Regional High School, set things in motion with a monster opening leap. Measured in at 39 feet, 7 inches, it immediately caught Ortiz’s attention.

“With the best jumpers on every team, I like to know their first jumps, see where they’re jumping already and do a little background check so I know what I’m up against,” explained Ortiz. “Once (Hoynoski) jumped 39-7, that’s what I put in my mind as the goal that I had to go after.”

When the list of jumpers came back around, the event within the event was in full swing. Two of the top athletes in Franklin County, the pair will be heavily involved when the postseason meets begin next month. In Friday’s triple jump, they were getting that competition started a bit early.

With the competitive juices flowing, Ortiz readied to match his Mohawk counterpart. He pulled off his sweats, received a quick fistbump from a teammate, and headed towards the end of the runway. Despite the cold, despite the rain, despite everything else that potentially could’ve been a distraction, Ortiz delivered. His hop, skip and jump made a mark in the sand even bigger than usual. Not an easy thing for him to do.

With a top mark of 40 feet, 10½ inches, Ortiz vaulted to the top and ultimately won the event.

“That’s the best of my entire career,” he said with a smile. “And I was still like a foot behind the board. It’s really surreal. I just try to do my best every time I go out there.”

Both competitors, which finished 1-2 in the event, said the other drove them to perform better on Friday.

“I want to do better than him, keep track of him and see how he does the rest of the season,” Hoynoski said of Ortiz. “I want to be a competitor of his again. Hopefully going forward.”

That’s how the best in Franklin County operate on the track & field scene. They respect their opponents. They exchange pleasantries and congratulate afterwards. And then they focus their attention on beating them next time.

"Seth’s been jumping really good triple jumps this year. I saw that as a challenge to go get him,” Ortiz said.

The triple jump was just a small portion of the Intercounty League dual meet between the two schools on Friday. Both athletes made their marks elsewhere. In addition to his win in the triple jump, Ortiz won the long jump (19-4¾) and 100-meter dash (11.6 seconds). Hoynoski was dominant on the track, winning the 200 (25.4) and 400 (57.1) to power Mohawk to a convincing 92-33 team victory. The Warriors improved to 2-0 on the season (2-0 Intercounty League), while Tech fell to 1-2 (1-2 IL).

Both stars have their sights set on big spring seasons. Ortiz was second at last year’s Western/Central Mass. championship meet in the triple jump, and he’s using the early portion of the regular season to qualify where he wants to go before preparing from there. 

“I want to be the best person out there. That sounds so arrogant but I just feel like I need to be the best, no matter what,” he offered. “And there’s no excuses. I feel really good. My body feels really prepared for the season and I’m ready to keep it going. My goal has always been to qualify, then bring on the big meets. I love the competition. I want to go against the best.”

Hoynoski’s strained hip flexor from the indoor track season feels like a distant memory at this point. He feels back to his normal self. That’s bad news for the rest of the Intercounty League, and beyond.

“(The injury) took me out for a couple weeks but I’m getting back into it and feeling good,” he said. “Having someone right next to you (like Ortiz), you want to beat them. That’s always my goal. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Hoynoski’s teammates offered plenty of support on Friday. Senior Aidan Sandvik won a pair of individual events, besting the fields in both the mile (5:29.1) and 800 (2:32.7). Zach Coburn jumped into the 110 hurdles and found his way to a win (21.8), while Dan White took the 400 hurdles (69.6) and Boucias was a winner in the 2-mile (12:37.4).

The Warriors also swept the two relays and won the high jump thanks to a tie between Sandvik and Evan Shippee at 5-2. Hunter Gibson won the discus (99-8) and Zach Goodell took the shot put (37-½). Weather forced the cancellation of the pole vault and javelin.

The strong performance from the home team sets up a huge upcoming week for the Warriors. The team will host Mahar Regional School (2-0, 2-0) on Wednesday in a meet that very well could decide the IL champion. Mohawk will then host Greenfield High School (1-0, 1-0) on Friday before taking part in the Steele Relays on Saturday in West Springfield.

“Next week is going to be a hugely tactical week for us,” said Mohawk coach Shawn Billings. “Mahar’s bringing a lot to the table and that’ll have big stakes.”


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