AA track and field
So near, yet so far away.
West Valley’s Vinnie Pecht already had secured a State AA discus championship. But his quest for a meet record, some 200 feet away, fell inches short.
The win helped his Eagles flirt with the idea of a team championship before settling for a share of fourth place with 34 points, seven points from the lead.
Pecht reached 193-5 on his third attempt of a six-throw series. The toss increased his state-title lead to more than 30 feet, a title he had already owned following his first throw in excess of 184 feet.
But it was 3 inches away from what he had wanted all along, a third meet record for his throwing coach, Howard Dolphin.
“I’m a little bit disappointed, but that’s all right,” said Pecht.
“You don’t always throw the way you want,” Dolphin told Pecht. “If you had a choice of one or the other, I’d choose the one you got, the state’s all-time best.”
That was the 207-2 throw Pecht got off a week earlier in the Frontier League district meet.
The meet record, 193-8, was set in 1979 by another Frontier athlete, Clarkston’s Gary Leffler.
Dolphin had coached East Valley’s Gene Lorenzen to a meet-record 231-4 in the javelin in 1974. Six years later, Knight Mike Shill put the shot a meet-record 64-7.
Led by spectacular three-event, record-setting sprinter Ja’Warren Hooker, Ellensburg won the taut team competition with 41 points. The final race, the 1,600 relay, knocked the Eagles from third place.
Frontier League athletes earned 11 more medals on the second day, for a total of 26.
Incessant rain let up in time for the boys AA discus, but Pecht found himself in the center of a mini-storm.
An opposing coach complained that the Eagle T-shirt he was wearing was illegal and protested after his near-record preliminary throw.
“Someone was trying to get into my head, I think,” said Pecht, who wore the special-issue team shirt while finishing second last year. “I heard about it before but no one made this much of a thing about it.”
Although the T-shirt differs from Eagle runners’ singlets, by rule it is legal if issued by the school. Officials ruled in Pecht’s favor and the trophy was his.
Dolphin said that Pecht’s strength is his attention to technique.
“He’s a great kid and so coachable,” said Dolphin. “You’ve got to do things right, particularly Vinnie, who doesn’t have the power.”
Next up for the state champion is the Golden West Invitational in June where he could face national leader Scott Moser of California and No. 3 Edmond Stansbury of Texas.
“Throwing the discus is something I definitely want to do,” said Pecht. “One of my dreams is to make it to the Olympics.”
Finishing fourth behind Pecht was East Valley’s Ken Skogen, who nearly equalled his season best at 152-9.
In other events, three Frontier long jumpers placed among the top eight, defending champion Ricardo Colon of Pullman settling for second place, EV’s Jerry Claridge leaping into fourth ahead of WV’s Devion Tensley on his last attempt.
Eagle sophomore Rick Collins took eighth in the pole vault, and Clarkston’s Justin Baerlocher ran 1:56.3 for seventh in the 800.
For three West Valley sprinters, successful careers came to an end with more hardware. For another, it was just the beginning.
Erica Frampton, Rhonda Barney and Cindy Simpson have been to state all four years and earned a combined 10 medals. They got a major boost in the fourth-place 400 relay and Saturday’s fifth-place 800 effort by sophomore Staci Adams.
Adams, with her explosive speed, ran third leg of the relay teams and positioned the Eagles for their high places. She also set a school record in the 300 hurdles and placed fourth in the finals.
“I didn’t think I had a chance in this race,” she said. “It’s a blew my mind kind of thing. I never had time to work on it.”
She’d like to return in the event next year and also make the finals of the 100, which she failed to do this year.
“It was a bummer. I cried afterwards,” she said. “It’s my favorite event.”
Last year the WV sophomore had qualified for state but missed the meet because of disciplinary action. This year she vowed to be there for the seniors and Adams didn’t disappoint.
Other medal winners were Cheney’s Jeannette Zimmer, who placed eighth in the 1,600 meters, and the Riverside 1,600 relay runners, who were eighth.
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