When Clint Barnes took over Highland's track program three years ago, one of his immediate goals was turning the Rams into a championship contender.

Barnes' wish became reality on Thursday night when Highland pulled off a major upset, scoring 150.5 points to claim the Region 6 boys team championship at Cottonwood High.

The Rams finished 28 points ahead of second-place finisher Murray and enjoyed strong individual performances across the board.

John Moala won the shot put with a throw of 47 feet and 1.75 inches. Beau Hicken finished with a time of 10 minutes and 13.48 seconds to claim victory in the 3,200 meters. Abdi Issaq also claimed a region title in the 1,600 with a time of 4:31.35.

Other Highland winners included Ben Dautel, who won the 800 in 2:05.96, and Max Wood, who claimed the 300 hurdles title after finishing in 42.45 seconds.

Barnes was not aware of any other time during the last three decades where the school earned a region track title. Such a title, he said, validates the efforts of Rams coaches and athletes alike to make the program respectable in the region.

"At times, I sit there and think we're a little island of misfits," Barnes said. "But this group of kids came together and did a great job." Murray scored 125.5 points, four more than Highland, to keep the Rams from also claiming a girls region title. Amy Murakami led the Spartans in their successful title quest, claiming victory in the 400 with a time of 1 minute and 1.51 seconds.


E-mail: jcoon@desnews.com