Three Northeast A League strong men did their part Friday, leading a productive first day for area athletes during the boys State 1A/2B/1B track and field meets that got under way at Eastern Washington University.
The weather generally cooperated with only a few sprinkles and some wind throughout the day.
The trio of NEA discus throwers swept the first three places, each exceeding last year’s winning throw in a stirring competition that saw 10 individuals better last year’s third place-finishing mark and four exceed 160 feet.
First-place finisher Will Lohman from Chewelah was one of two individual boys champions – Republic 2B 1,600 winner Nik Michel was the other. There were five second-place finishers and two took third in the 14 boys events contested.
Generally, those expected to medal or advance through preliminary races to today’s finals did so, though there were a couple notable setbacks.
The meet concludes today with the session beginning at 10 a.m. with a full complement of track races and field events beginning at 10 a.m.
1A boys: Lohman didn’t lead the discus until his third preliminary throw, a distance he eventually stretched to 175 feet, 5 inches on his next-to-last attempt. Teammate Riley Nelson equaled his career-best 165-11, also on his second finals throw, for third.
Yet a career day by Lakeside’s Paul Thomas nearly stole the show. He stunned himself and the field spinning the disc 10 feet farther than he ever had before.
The 166-8 toss by the Eagles junior put him ahead for a period of time until Lohman topped it by 7 inches on the final throw of the preliminaries.
“This is my first state meet. Adrenalin took over,” Thomas said. He later threw two more that exceeded 160. “It’s nice to know it wasn’t a fluke. I was ranked fourth and finished second.”
Lohman’s goal was to reach 180 feet, but said while disappointed he didn’t, he was happy to win and proud of the league’s showing.
“Paul had a great throw and Riley did a great job too,” he said. “We can challenge the GSL throwers and others around the state.”
Another Lakeside athlete, 1,600-meter competitor Colton Berry, timed a school-record 4 minutes, 24.92 seconds to finish second. He spotted eventual winner Tyler King of Coupeville too much early in the race, but despite a spike wound that required seven stitches closed fast to lose by only .38 seconds.
“I tried my best in the last 200 to catch him,” said Berry. “Unfortunately it didn’t work out.”
Also second was Freeman high jumper Chase Watson, who lost to Castle Rock freshman Austin Moore, 6-4 to 6-2.
“I was hoping to get 6-4,” Watson said. “But I tied my PR (personal record) so I’m happy.”
Teammate Tucker Rudy, leading his preliminary 200, tripped and fell just short of the finish and was eliminated.
2B boys: Michel failed to heed the Satchel Paige adage, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”
After surging into the lead just before the start of the last lap of his 1,600, the Republic senior repeatedly glanced over his shoulder at surging runner-up Justin Holden of Northwest Christian (Lacey) during the stretch run.
But despite tying up, he held on, timing 4:25.77 and his opponent fell short, collapsing in exhaustion at the finish and needing aid.
“I had run a 48-second split in a 400 and assumed I had better speed,” the spent Michel said. “I couldn’t move and he had a good kick.”
But the Tiger runner reached a goal set two years earlier.
Lind-Ritzville junior James Coon threw 181-8 for second in the javelin, setting a personal record in the finals.
But teammate and defending champion pole vaulter Marshall Fryberger, with a 12-6 mark, was upset by Willapa Valley cousins Adam and Matt Friese, who each cleared 13-0, well below Fryberger’s personal best.
1B boys: Odessa defending long jump champion Aaron Bruya never could get his steps and finished seventh with a mark 2 feet shorter than his meet record 21-1 last year. In his stead, Inchelium’s Tony Louie finished second, a foot behind Mary Knight victor cq Brennden Hiles.