Surprises the norm at region

SUNDAY, MAY 29, 2005

Never go to a track meet without your form chart. You might need it to shade your eyes from the sun’s glare.

Otherwise, such a document wasn’t much good at the Eastern 4A Regional track and field meet Saturday at University High School.

For instance, a form chart would show that Lewis and Clark’s Whitney Porter had never beaten Mt. Spokane’s Megan O’Reilly in a race of any distance and couldn’t be expected to – until Saturday.

It would have suggested that U-Hi’s Michael Kelley had no prayer to win the discus, nor Kamiakin’s Amy Axtell the pole vault – and neither, by a long shot, was the case.

And, finally, it may not have projected a team title for the Ferris boys, given their fifth-place finish in the Greater Spokane League run-offs earlier this month.

But there were the Saxons, with Ben Poffenroth and Robert Davis accounting for about half their 90 points, on top of the boys standings, by an 18-point margin over Shadle Park, while Wenatchee claimed the girls title. The exclamation point for Ferris was a victory in the 4x400-meter relay, with Davis anchoring in 49.1 seconds and Poffenroth running a 49.0-second leg.

It’s a bit remarkable that Poffenroth had such a sprint in him. Earlier in the 85-degree heat, he had pulled off an 800-1,600 double – though it felt like something else altogether.

“Usually the heat doesn’t bother me,” said Poffenroth, who labored down the stretch of the 800 but still held off Richland’s Kevin Merkling in 1:54.99, “but I think it’s because the mile was so slow for the first two laps it became more like two 800s today.”

Poffenroth had looked strong in the 1,600, but his 4:21.69 clocking included negative splits to the extreme – a 2:01 finishing 800, and a 57-second last lap.

“That’s actually good for me, and if it happens again next week so much the better,” he said. “I think I’ve got more in the tank.”

That feeling was echoed by Davis, who turned a 49.16 in winning the 400.

“I didn’t take off fast enough and had a little too much left at the end,” he said. “I’ve been running the 100 and 200 more and still don’t have the feel for the 400 yet.”

Feel was not a problem for Rogers zephyr Becca Noble, who broke the day’s lone meet record (her own) with a 53.79 blast through the 400, then cruised to a 2:17.46 win in the 800. Nor was it for LC sophomore Andre Jennings, who looked strong in a 10.89-22.10 sprint double. Mead’s Corissa Hutchinson (shot put) and Shadle’s Catie Schuetzle (triple jump) completed doubles, too, but no one seemed more fulfilled than the Highlanders’ Bryan Braman. After winning the long jump and javelin Friday, he returned to up his state high jump best twice, finishing at 6 feet, 10 inches.

“Amazing,” he said. “I’ve never felt anything better in my entire life.”

It was an afternoon for that, and for gnawing disappointment – the regional a qualifier that sends the top four finishers in each event to next week’s state meet in Pasco. An example was area girls leader Dana Giffen of Mead, an 11-3 pole vaulter, no-heighting and opening the door for Axtell – who cleared 10 feet just last week – to win as the lone jumper over 10-6.

Almost as unlikely was Kelley’s victory in the discus. Just a 145-foot thrower, the U-Hi senior sent his first attempt 160-2 – which held up to win by more than 10 feet.

“Oh, I scared those boys,” Kelley joked. “I put some fear into them.”

Among the victims was district champ Tim Naylor of Mt. Spokane, who struggled and didn’t make the top eight.

But there was no winner more surprised than Porter, who dogged O’Reilly for about 1,580 meters and suddenly found another gear in the last 20. O’Reilly made a late strain for the finish camera and tumbled to the track – just .02 separating her from Porter’s winning time of 5:09.70.

So mixed were the LC senior’s emotions that she apologized to O’Reilly on the awards stand for winning (“That’s OK,” O’Reilly assured her.)

“I felt so bad for her – she’s the state champion,” marveled Porter. “I never thought I’d be anywhere near Megan O’Reilly. It hasn’t even dawned on me yet.

“This is the first time I’ve been to state so it should be fun.”

And maybe more than that.

“Next week,” said Shadle’s Braman, “there is no limit.”


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