BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
Clipper Staff Writer
PROVO — A dose of Italian lightning has zapped Woods Cross to the top of the state track championships.
With a six-point victory, the boys’ track team took home a state title for the first time in nearly 20 years. A major factor in the victory was Italian exchange student Jacopo Spano, who came home with four individual gold medals and added 40 points to the team’s total.
“He’s a real competitor,” said Woods Cross High coach Sam Wood. “He loves the big stage.”
Spano, who has set a state record in the 200-meter, dominated the 100-meter and 200-meter races as well as the long jump. He’s also a member of the school’s 4x100 team, which set the state 4A record twice this spring. Though they didn’t match their previous records, the team took home the gold at state.
Though Spano is only a junior, he will return to Italy early next month. Originally, he was scheduled to go to Minnesota for his six-month stay in the U.S., and was relocated to Woods Cross only when his initial host family backed out.
“We’re lucky to have had him this year,” said Wood. “He’s super talented.”
Other team members have also pushed themselves further than they did last year. Cam Dopp won first in the 300-meter hurdles, like he did in 2012, but he also helped the boy’s 4x400 team turn last year’s second-place victory into a gold medal at this year’s event. The team shaved nearly 3.5 seconds off last year’s time, finishing in 3 minutes and 21.69 seconds.
“We went in ranked second,” said Wood. “Our team really stepped up, and broke the school record in the process.”
Sean Barton, a member of the gold-medal winning 4x100 team, has also worked harder this year. He finished the 100-meter race in 10.84 seconds, earning second place to teammate Spano but beating last year’s winning time of 11.04 seconds. Barton improved his own time by nearly a full second.
“Last year, he joined in the middle of the season,” said Wood. “This year, he had a lot more experience and took it more seriously.”
Other key members of the winning relay teams include Chandler Judd, Derek Lord, Nate Benson, Xequille Harry and Brandon Kinsey.
On the girls’s side, Marissa Appiah earned a gold medal in the high jump, while teammate Jordyn Wensel did the same in the discus.
In the end, though, it’s the boys’ victory that will linger longest in the team’s memories.
“The last time Woods Cross won the state championship, I was in elementary school and none of these kids were born yet,” said Wood. “It was a great feeling to have won for the kids that have worked so hard to make it happen.”