After 35 years, the Pelluer Invitational doesn’t give up its history without a fight.
Too many of the Northwest’s best track and field athletes – Don Kardong, Ian Waltz, Kim Jones, Seville Broussard among them – have competed at Woodward Field in Cheney. Eleven men’s and seven women’s meet records have stood for 20 years or more.
So even when the Pelluer attracts one of its better fields – athletes from Washington State and Idaho joined in Friday for the first time in several years – it tends to be more about the competition these days than the record book.
A couple of victories for host Eastern Washington provided cases in point.
Junior John Timeus will zero in on the 5,000 meters when the Big Sky Conference championships come to Woodward next month, but he dropped down to the 1,500 “for a nice change of pace” and it certainly provided that – a neck-and-neck sprint between himself and Montana’s Dan Bingham that lasted the entire final lap.
With a dip at the end, Timeus prevailed by a mere three-hundredths of a second in 3 minutes, 58.34 seconds, but he had to make two different runs at Bingham to get it done.
“He was matching me and I couldn’t get around him,” said Timeus, who dropped back a couple of strides with 200 meters to go. “So I had to sit back behind him on that corner. Then when I was making another run at him, there was a whole crew of people in the stands who were just screaming and that helps so much.”
In fact, the whole race seemed like a virtual sprint.
“It’s very quick,” he laughed. “When I was coming around that last time I thought, ‘This can’t be the bell lap already.’ It throws you off.”
Which is as good a way as any of describing teammate David Paul pulling off the upset of the meet, a last-round defeat of Idaho’s Russ Winger in the discus.
Paul had already won the hammer throw earlier in the meet with a throw of 196 feet, but he’d fouled all three attempts in the shot put as Winger – fifth at nationals last year – won easily at 58-33/4. In the discus, Winger’s 171-9 throw led through five rounds, though he was obviously struggling, and when Paul popped a lifetime best 173-1 on his last attempt, Winger couldn’t answer.
“I’ve never beaten him (in the discus) before, but he really didn’t throw his best,” said Paul. “I’m happy to PR – I’ve been wanting to get past 170 for a couple of years now and it feels good to do it.”
Two meet records did fall, though they were both in events that have abbreviated histories. Montana javelin thrower Alicia Mills, a Central Valley grad, lost to EWU’s Stephanie Ulmer and Jordan Baughan in Missoula last week, but turned the tables here with a 156-0 winner.
That’s about 4 feet farther than Baughan’s year-old record in the event, which in 1999 changed the weighting of the implement.
And Idaho’s Melinda Owen upped the Pelluer and stadium record in the women’s pole vault, which dates back only to 1997, to 12-91/2, though she said she “didn’t really bring my A game” – which was more or less reflected in the fact that she jumped at six different heights and had misses at all of them except her opener at 11-3.
Just how tough is the Pelluer record book? Montana’s Jas Gill won his fourth straight Pelluer high jump with the best mark he’s managed here, 7 feet, 1/2 inch – and still came up 21/2 inches short of Greg Jones’ 22-year-old record.
Besides Paul, sprinters Nikela Ndebele – the former Idaho veteran – and LaShawnda Porter of WSU both doubled up in the 100 and 200, Porter with season bests of 12.15 and 24.64.
Whitworth’s Brandon Howell defended his men’s 800 title in 1:53.42 with a huge surge on the final backstretch, and EWU grad Justin Drake won his third long jump title in the last four years.
In another tight finish, WSU redshirt Reny Follett nipped EWU freshman Chad Butorac in the men’s 400 by just .01 in 48.76.