It isn’t enough that Rick Sloan thinks he’s signed one of his best track recruiting classes at Washington State University.
Now it appears as if the Cougs have themselves a cult figure, too.
Introducing Matt Lamb, one of 13 high school athletes who’ve signed to compete at WSU next year – an uncommonly gifted thrower and sprinter from Emmett, Idaho, who has already earned Sloan’s highest approbation:
“This guy is unbelievable,” he said.
It’s not just his size: Lamb goes 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. It’s not just his throwing marks: He’s currently fifth among preps nationwide in the shot put with a best of 62 feet, 93/4 inches, backed up by a 186-4 discus throw. And it’s not just that he’s been clocked in 10.7 in the 100 meters and 22.4 in the 200, completing a ridiculous parlay of strength and speed.
It’s the whole package, including his redoubtable sideburns.
According to the Idaho Statesman, Lamb has answered to any number of nicknames, including Wolverine, Elvis, Bigfoot, Yeti, the Human Muscle and Lambo. His mother, Lisa, told the newspaper that after pictures of her son appeared in the Statesman during last spring’s state meet, the images turned up on buttons at The Record Exchange in Boise.
“Debra (Farwell, WSU’s throws coach) has a picture of him in the 100 meters and I wouldn’t want to be in the lane next to him,” Sloan joked.
Sloan conjured up the memory of lining up side by side with a fellow 1960s decathlete, Russ Hodge, who with Lamb-like dimensions could run the 100 in 10.2 and put the 16-pound shot more than 60 feet. Bill Young, executive director of the Idaho High School Activities Association, made a comparison in the Statesman to former Idaho football great Ray McDonald, a state prep champ in both the throws and hurdles.
“Holy cow, when we finally got some video on him, we just sat there with our mouths open,” Sloan said. “He had a wingspan like Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) and this huge pull on the discus. Like all the great ones in the throws, he’s a good athlete with explosiveness.”
Lamb is the eye-popper in a class that also includes Curtis High School triple jumper Moreno Zapata, who got off a wind-aided 50-111/2 leap to beat West Valley’s Rashad Toussaint at the Pasco Invitational, and New York pole vaulter Tiffany Maskulinski, whose 13-51/4 best is No. 3 nationally. Top Washington throwers Vic Asher of Vancouver and Chase Mancuso of Kamiak are also on the list, along with Shadle Park jumper Catie Schuetzle.
Put me in, coach
The procedure at most track meets is a) enter an event and, b) check in to compete. When it came time for the men’s 800 at last weekend’s Duane Hartman Invitational, meet director Larry Beatty discovered the runners had added, c) lobby like crazy.
“Everybody wanted in the first heat,” said the Community Colleges of Spokane coach. “Now I know why. There’s a couple guys in the second heat I had to tell no and now I feel bad about it.”
Everyone smelled speed. A bunch of guys with bests in the 1:54-1:57 range figured they were about to get a lot faster – which they did when Central Washington’s Mike Pankiewicz towed the field home. His 1:52.48 winner led six runners in less than 1:54, and another in less than 1:55. Four of those were from CCS; Whitworth’s Brandon Howell used the occasional to get an NCAA Division III national qualifying mark (1:52.89).
The big gain belonged to runner-up Nick Siebert, a CCS freshman from North Central who lowered his best nearly four seconds to 1:52.74.
“Guys were just laying it down on that last lap,” said Siebert. “It’s fun to jump into these big races with so much competition to push you.”
If only there were a 4x800 relay at the NWAACC meet.
“We could light that up,” agreed Beatty.
Half a lap is better than one
He came, he saw, he sprinted a brisk 47.36 seconds – and then he got sick, felled by some head congestion.
Pat Ray’s token 400 of the track season is now behind him.
The Idaho senior won the Hartman 400 as he did a year ago in the fastest time in the Big West Conference this season, but he won’t be duplicating the feat at the conference meet. Instead, he’ll run the 100, 200 (in which he’s also the BWC leader, at 20.96) and both relays – a workload he knows and is used to and will leave him in better shape to defend his 200 title.
“I don’t really run the 400,” said Ray, a Mt. Spokane graduate. “I do it once a year and then in relays.”
He thought he might have a chance of running in the 46s – blasting through the 200 in 21-something – but ran out of air with about 50 meters to go. Which wasn’t that surprising, given his illness and his preparation.
“I just did one 400 workout on Monday and that was it,” he said.
The Hartman meet was a thumb-up debut for the Falls track’s new blue Tartan surface, a $250,000 job bankrolled in part by the college’s student building fund. … … If last week’s Washington-WSU men’s dual turned on the pole vault, it was even more hurtful to Cougars sophomore Tyson Byers, who strained a hamstring on his only attempt. “There is some question whether he’ll be ready for the conference championships,” Sloan said of the 17-61/2 vaulter. … Jamie Griffith had never run a 400 hurdles race for EWU until the Scott meet. Now she’s No. 6 on the school’s all-tine list at 1:03.24. … Most of the area’s athletes will compete Saturday at the Vandal Jamboree in Moscow, with multievents competition today and Thursday and the hammer Friday evening. WSU will launch its Pac-10 effort Saturday and Sunday with multievents competition in Los Angeles. Cougars Diana Pickler, Julie Picker and Katie Miller are ranked 1-2-6 in the hepathatlon. … Idaho’s throwers had a big day at the Hartman. Not only did sophomore Russ Winger win the shot and discus (the fourth meet this year he’s done so), but hammer specialist Marcus Mattox improved his best 7 feet to 192-4 – but not quite the jump redshirting freshman Jake Boling made. Competing unattached, his spin of 182-9 was a 15-foot gain.