The eye of the Tiger twinkles. That’s because the sleek Tiger is an innocent freshman, hardly aware of what she accomplished Friday night at Spokane Falls Community College.
Teresa Brooks’ dramatic surge at the finish line gave Lewis and Clark the Greater Spokane League 1,600-meter relay crown and brought an end to an outstanding night of track.
The surprising freshman, who earlier won the 400 meters with another stirring stretch run, helped the Tigers establish a state-best time of 3 minutes, 59.5 seconds.
It was the fourth state-best and one of numerous area-bests on the second day of the Taco Time District 8 Track Meet as GSL athletes celebrated probably the best weather for competition they’ve had all year.
Among the outstanding efforts was a meet-record run of 44.4 seconds by Mead senior Autumn Wood in the 300 hurdles. She erased the 44.7 her coach, Annette Helling Pedersen, ran for Central Valley in 1981.
“I finally got the record after three years of trying,” Wood said. “It’s special because it was my coach. I think she was more excited than I was. I had a really clean race and I felt strong at the end.”
Wood also anchored the 800 relay team’s state-best 1:44.59.
Ferris junior Jennifer Smith, who ran a state-best 3,200 on Thursday night, added a state-best 1,600 of 4:59.53.
The CV boys 1,600 relay team cut its state-leading time to 3:22.09.
But of all the great performances, Brooks was one of the most intriguing. She was a 100-200 sprinter until three weeks ago when her coaches’ pleas to try the quarter mile finally prevailed.
Now Brooks is a two-time district champion, blasting to an area-best 57.88 seconds in the 400.
“That didn’t even enter my mind,” Brooks said of the possibility of being a champion. “I was just hoping to have fun and if I wasn’t good enough, come back next year.”
The 400 was the event for surprises. Mead senior Jim Hughbanks roared down the stretch to shock CV senior Ryan Strickland. Hughbanks ran 50.23 a day after lowering his personal record by a second (50.69) in the preliminaries.
“I was coming around the corner and thinking to myself as I got even, ‘I’ve come this far, I might as well beat him, or attempt to,”’ Hughbanks said. “(Coach Gary) Baskett keeps saying don’t be surprised when good things happen, but expect more. It is a bit surprising to see it happen.”
Brooks was one of many double winners and Wood won four times. She also took the 100 hurdles (15.68) and was on Thursday’s winning 400 relay team.
Other members of the Panthers relay teams were individual winners, senior Jen Dunford in the 100 (12.96) and junior Emily Williams in the high jump (5-4).
Seniors D.J. Miller of Mead and Adrienne Wilson of University added triple jump titles (44-8 and 36-6, respectively) to the long jump wins they had a day earlier.
Mead senior Matt Sturm defended his sprint titles, taking the 100 (11.14) and 200 (21.6). Gonzaga Prep senior Chris Barton swept the 110 (15.51) and 300 (39.77, a school record) hurdles. CV junior Robby Warnock had a hand in the Bears relay and won the 800 (1:57.12), holding together in a tight stretch run with Mead junior Ryan Wiser.
“I just started powering with my arms, over exaggerating, trying not to tighten up,” Warnock said. “Because you’re so tired you don’t want to move your arms as much, so you overexaggerate to get them where they’re supposed to be; use your upper body.”
After losing a close race at district a year ago, Warnock was glad to win, even if he’s behind the time he hoped to be at this point because he had mononucleosis at the start of the season.
“It’s been hard because my teammates have been beating me,” he said. “I’ve just put in a little extra work here and there, slowing coming back.”
The meet was so good that two of the best performances belonged to runners-up.
University of Arizona-bound Kristen Parrish of Ferris shadowed Smith in the 1,600, finishing two seconds back with a PR of 5:01.44. Then she came back to lose to another teammate, sophomore Missy Blackshire, in the 800, 2:15.16 to 2:15.42. Both of Parrish’s times could have been area- or state-bests.
Mead senior John West was second to Sturm in both sprints.
“It’s not frustrating,” West said. “Matt’s been at this a long time - this is my second year. I’m excited at how far I’ve come. I never had interest, to tell you the truth. I was always working on other sports. I decided why not give it a try; you only live once.”