Bigger isn’t better – or at least it wasn’t on Saturday, other than the fact that the Riverside Invitational track meet, with more than 46 teams, is one of the biggest ones around.
But other than the big number of entries, two of the shining stars were relatively small in stature.
Chewelah junior Will Lohman won the shot put, the third time this season he has finished higher than any Greater Spokane League thrower, and added the discus title.
“It feels good,” the 5-foot-11, 215-pounder said about beating big-school competition. “Sometimes it’s like flying under the radar, sometimes they take us a little lightly because we’re a 1A school. I feel like I get a little more respect once they see me throw. They look at me, I’m not the biggest, I’m not the fastest, but I can still throw far.”
Lohman threw the shot 53-111⁄2, almost 5 feet clear of second, and spun the disc 158-2.
Among the girls, Cheney junior Shelby Mauer looked down at her stocking feet and rose on her tiptoes when pointing out she was 5-11⁄2.
“I look at tall people and think, ‘Oh no,’?” she said. “But I probably don’t look that fast, but I’m trying to surprise people. I like beating tall people.”
She did that in the 100 meters (12.85 seconds) and 200 (26.06), anchored the Blackhawks’ winning 400 relay (51.11) and ran leadoff on their second-place 1,600 relay. That led to Cheney winning the team title with 121 points, a dozen ahead of Mead and Shadle Park. Mauer was named Athlete of the Meet.
Cheney also won the boys title with 1051⁄2, with Mt. Spokane second at 92. Newport sophomore Aric Walton was the outstanding athlete after easily sweeping the 110 high hurdles (15.27) and 300 intermediate hurdles (42.26).
Lohman, who had the best throw in the shot at the Mooberry Relays and was fourth in the Pasco Invite, is smaller than the GSL linemen he matches up against.
“Most of the time I feel like an outsider,” he said. “They’ve been throwing against each other, know each other from playing different sports. It doesn’t matter. I’m just here to throw.”
He likes the competition.
“I like the excitement of the big meets,” Lohman said. “It definitely helps. Sometimes in league meets I can pop them off because I can relax. But I look forward to big meets.”
Playing most sports as a youngster, success is what tipped him toward track.
“I started track in middle school and I also played baseball,” he said. “In eighth grade I didn’t know which I would do in high school. At the end of the season we had a little regional championship and I won both (throws). Decided I would do track. I started having more fun with it. … I played team sports all my life. It was fun to do something more individual where you could depend on yourself. If you won it’s because of you, and your coach, and if you lost it because of you, too.”
Lohman is aware that having former GSL thrower Pat Kostecka as a coach is an advantage.
“I see other guys from small schools and I realize I’m blessed and really lucky that I have such a great coach,” he said. “I see a lot of big people do shot put that are way bigger than me and they don’t throw as far. I know a lot of it is due to the coaching. I know if I didn’t have K as my coach I wouldn’t be doing as well.”
Lohman placed fifth at state in the discus as a freshman and was 14th in the shot put, then won the disc and placed third in the shot last year.
“I knew after my freshman year I could do a lot better, but I was surprised that I could do that good when I was a sophomore,” he said.
He knows his future is in track but the 4.0-point student isn’t sure what he wants to study. He would like to compete at a Division I school.
“I love football a lot, but everything I do I do for track,” he said. “Football complements track because I can lift for both. For being a state champion the best chance for that was through track. It takes a little more talent, especially in the throws area. It’s really challenging and once you get it, it feels really good.”
Valley Christian’s Jeff Pope, in the 800 (2:00.34) and 1,600 (4:27.15), and Shadle’s Bo Schuetzle, in the long jump (21-6) and triple jump (42-51⁄2), also were double winners.
Mauer is obsessed with speed.
“I don’t worry about being a state champion or I want to take this place,” she said. “I do at districts because last year I won all my events and I want to do that again, but mostly I want times.”
She’s not quite as fast as she was last year at the same time, partly because she got beat up in cross country, which she was running to stay in shape, and missed winter training.
“It’s hard to go from distance to get back in sprinting shape,” she said. “I might be behind, but I’m happy with it. I’m not too behind to get worried about it. On relays we’re doing good. I’m happy with that.”
She wasn’t particularly happy with her times at the Riverside meet.
“If I win it makes me feel better, but if I don’t have a good time it’s hard to feel too good about it,” she said. “It helps to know I can still have a bad day and come in first.
Mauer is going to run her first open 400 next week, surprising because that builds speed for sprinters and she has the relay experience.
“I like the 4x4,” she said. “Even though I get really nervous and sick, it’s the most fun. You’re working hard, not just for you but for your team. And it’s the last event, everybody is cheering for you.”
She has the same nerves at big meets but still prefers them.
“I’m more comfortable (at league meets), but I like (big meets) more because I get pushed and my times go down,” she said. “This just feels like a real meet.”
There were no other multiple winners in individual events.