By Brady Greene
Photos by Anna Ewoniuk & Kurt Johnson
When he began teaching and coaching at Juan Diego Catholic High School in 2010, Sam Salts had never been to a track meet.
He says he never would have thought to attend one if it was not in his job description. Five years later, Juan Diego is looking to have another successful season under Salts’ leadership.
Salts was originally hired to be the weights coach, but as he walked out of principal Dr. Galey Colosimo’s office on the day he was hired, Colosimo mentioned he would also be the track and field coach.
Salts came from a small high school in Phoenix, Arizona that did not have a track team. At Juan Diego, the coach has managed to see some growth in the program since taking over. Each year since Salts has become head track and field coach, the team has improved its ranking in the state tournament.
This year, the team took a slight step back in the team standings at state, but the positive developments continue. As a track coach, Salts says he takes a whole different approach than in any other sport, and he chooses to positively motivate athletes rather than yell at them.
“You can want something, but you have to take the steps to do it,” Salts said.
This year’s Juan Diego track and field team was led by Monique and Dominique Mills, who continued to improve all season long, culminating with strong results at the state meet.
At the BYU Invitational on May 1, Monique set a personal and school record in the 100 meter, running a 12.52. Dominique ran her fastest time of the season at Taylorsville on April 18 with 15.79 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles and qualified for state. At the Region 10 championships on May 9, Monique took first in the 100 and Dominique Mills won the 100-meter hurdles.
Monique finished second in both the 100 and 200 at the 3A state championships, while Dominique was third in the 100 hurdles at state.
The Mills twins also participate together in the 4×100 relay along with Becca Curran, Bailey Leonard and Anna Ewoniuk. The group picked where they left off last year after placing fourth at state and placed second at the Pine View Invitational, running a 50.56, improving by 0.35 seconds from their first meet and qualifying for state.
The relay, which had everyone back from a year ago, was unable to successful finish the race at the state final in the relay, leaving Curran looking forward to next year knowing that Monique and Dominique will have moved on. A sophomore, she had emphasized the importance of this year being the best year for the 4×100 relay to win at state.
“The Mills twins are seniors and they are the best runners we have,” Curran said.
Curran is a multi-sport athlete, playing basketball as well as track.
“In basketball, you can make some mistakes and make up for it the next play, but when you are running a race, messing up is not an option,” Curran said.
Curran also runs the 100 and 100-meter hurdles. At the Wasatch Underclassman Invitational on April 21, Curran placed first in the 100 with a time of 13.25 and at the BYU Invitational, she achieved a personal record of 17.59 on the 100 hurdles.
David Fenton, a junior sprinter, took the Region 10 title in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.63. Adam Murry, a senior field athlete, leads Juan Diego with a 134 foot, 7 inch discus toss at the Region 10 Championships and a 42 feet 6.5 inch throw in shot put at the Pine View Invitational. Brandon Alex, a junior field athlete, also leads two categories in both the high jump and long jump events for the season.
Carter Campbell, a senior field athlete, threw the javelin for a personal record of 157 feet 2 inches at the Pine View Invitational. In the same event, senior Cathy Gonce threw for a personal record of 93 feet 5 inches, which is also the season best for Juan Diego.
Reporter Katrina Price contributed to this story.