There’s no antidote for speed, something University’s boys and Central Valley’s girls track teams have in abundance.
It enabled the Titans on Thursday afternoon to readily emerge as the logical challenger to 15-time defending champion Mead in the Greater Spokane League.
“We’ve got a strong team on the track,” said coach Keven Frandsen.
And it enabled the Bears to end years of futility for coach Dennis McGuire during a 70-1/2-70-1/2 deadlock with U-Hi’s girls.
“Is this good?” said an elated McGuire of the rare deadlock. “It’s not a loss. I’ve never beaten (Steve) Llewellyn in the 13 years I’ve been coaching.”
The tie offered proof that this year’s GSL girls competition will be as close as anticipated.
Of University’s boys team points during Thursday’s wins, 61 in an 85-60 win over the Bears and 65 in its 96-49 win over Ferris came in the running events.
The Titans won 7 of 10 races during the meet and would have won an eighth if they so desired.
A wealth of sprint depth has produced the area’s best 3:24.23 1,600 relay and state best 42.4 400 relay times.
They already had Jason Berger and company. Berger won the 200 and 400 in league-best times despite feeling sub-par.
“He’s been sick since Monday and didn’t work out this week,” said Frandsen. “What he did was guts. There’s a lot more in that kid.”
Newcomer Anthony Buchanan, a Bowdish Junior High ninth-grader, continues to dazzle, winning the 100 Thursday in 10.9.
Buchanan had never run track before, trying it for one practice last year before returning to baseball and his Bowdish buddies.
Why the switch to track and sudden celebrity?
“I wasn’t very good at baseball,” he said. “I’m surprised pretty much (by the success). If I get my starts down I can do better. They’re killing me.”
He’s faster in the short race than his uncle, Tim Buchanan, who has the upper hand in the 200 on up. Tim ran both relays and won the 300 hurdles in an area best 40.1.
Central Valley’s only chance was to dominate the throwing events and a four-person sweep by its football strongmen, Garrett Graham, Wil Beck, Preston Crossman and Brandon Bouge, bid well early.
Graham threw a five-foot personal best 52-5.
“Last year I had stress fractures in my shins and threw it in the last meet,” said the tall, 215-pounder who spends more time running to prepare himself for football. “I really don’t practice it much. I’m really happy.”
But then Titan Ryan Metcalf won the discus by two feet over Beck on his last throw and dashed CV hopes.
CV coach Chuck Bowden was realistic, saying, “Our problem is compensating on the track. They’re loaded. If University stays healthy watch out. Because they can sprint.”
So too can CV’s girls. They are so deep that McGuire could run the risk of keeping the league’s best sprinter, Whitney Schmaljohn, out of the short races and saving her for three relays.
“I just needed those relays,” said McGuire, “and took a chance on the opens with the other kids.”
The Bears responded by sweeping all three, including the meet’s final two races that produced the tie. Schmaljohn ran in the back-to-back 800 and 1,600 relays after earlier anchoring the 400 relay and winning the 300 hurdles.
But what gave CV the opportunity to tie was a performance in the meet’s second race.
Freshman Amy Wilson ran 13.0 in the second heat of the 100-yard dash. Her time tied her for third place and split a single point.
“Her last best time, I think,” said McGuire, “was 13.6.”
In a meet that both coaches figured would be close, fractions of seconds and points counted.
Llewellyn, whose Titans once lost a league championship by two-thirds of a point, took the tie with aplomb.
“This is kind of exciting stuff and a great way to break in the new track,” said Llewellyn, who practiced law prior to his current career.
“This isn’t pressure. Pressure is when you are defending a client who may be put to death.”
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