Panthers boast four champions at 4A
TACOMA – Courtney Hutchinson witnessed her first Star Track as a first-grader when her sister Corissa was participating for Mead.
After Corissa was a surprise winner in the shot put, Courtney got a shirt that said, “Future State Champion.”
That day came Friday when Hutchinson ignored the steady rain and cold wind to capture the State 4A title at Star Track XXVIII at Mt. Tahoma High School.
“I love throwing in really bad weather,” Hutchinson said after her 42-foot, 6¾-inch put edged state leader Kayla Adams of Thomas Jefferson by 3 inches. “My first 40 I hit was in 50 mph winds. I threw a 41 when it was all rainy.”
The key to beating the weather was mind over matter.
“I usually don’t do very good in rain,” Cheney senior DeAngelo Jones said. “Something coach (Todd) Herring was saying is you can’t control the weather but you can control your attitude. … After he said that I had a better attitude coming out.”
All Jones did was win the 2A high jump and finish third in triple jump to go with Thursday’s long jump medal.
By the end of the day, when the rain had subsided, the Mead boys had put a stranglehold on their second straight team title. With A.J. Maricich clearing 7 feet to win his second high jump crown, Casey Monahan parlaying a perfect start into the 110-meter hurdle championship and Sam Wright adding a second in the discus to his shot put title, the Panthers have piled up 53 points, four more than they totaled last year. With a half-dozen possibilities today, they have a shot at the record 81 points Lincoln scored in 1974.
The brutal weather caused the pole vault competitions (3A boys was held Thursday) to be postponed until today with the 2A boys and girls moving to Pacific Lutheran University.
Like Corissa, Courtney won her title as a freshman, while another sister, Ashley, won as a senior in 2007 with a school-record tying put of 43-8 – little sister’s next target.
“I was really nervous,” Hutchinson said. “People were saying, ‘Your sister won her freshman year so are you going to win?’ Coach (Dori Robertson) said to go out and have fun, don’t worry about it. I was freaking out. My sisters said, ‘Don’t worry, you don’t have anything to prove, you’re already there.’ ”
Hutchinson put her winner out on her second throw while everyone else fumbled through the preliminaries. Then Adams bore down but fell just short.
Maricich, who was third on misses last year after clearing 6-10 with two others, Kasen Williams of Skyline and Rahmel Dockery of Curtis, was rarely challenged this season. That gave him plenty of opportunities to attack 7 feet, which he cleared at regionals last year when he described himself as a warm-weather jumper.
“I kind of learned over the past year it doesn’t matter what the conditions are if you go out and compete, good things will happen,” he said. “All season I thought of Kasen Williams and Rahmel Dockery and knew I had to get after it.”
Maricich, who will jump at Washington next year, came extremely close to making 7-2, making the whole experience more satisfying than winning as a sophomore at 6-8.
“I wish I could have got 7-2. … The second one was there, I just had to be patient over the top,” he said. “I’ll be kicking myself about that one for a couple months.”
Monahan was a close second to state leader Garrett Gerling of Walla Walla at regionals last week and knew he had a chance.
“I had a couple of bad hurdles and I knew if I cleaned them up I could get him so I started believing,” he said. “It’s all about the start and I had a really good start. This race I had to stay focused. I was thinking state championship the whole time.”
The other notable efforts were a second by Levi Taylor of Lewis and Clark in the triple jump and a second and third by Ferris teammates Natalie Kyllo and Alexa Lindseth in the discus.
Taylor struggled with only two legal jumps, finishing at 46-11, although he said a couple of scratches were right at Williams’ winning mark of 47-6.
Kyllo, second fiddle to Lindseth all year, had quite a finish to her season to improve on a seventh-place finish while keeping Lindseth from a second straight silver.
“The weird thing is each of my last throws was an ending throw, to make it here, to make it to the finals and this one was my last throw,” she said after going a personal record of 132-8, 4½ feet behind Jessica Bush of Eisenhower.
It was a quiet day, although Luke Evans picked up eight points in the javelin to give North Central 18 points in its quest for a fourth straight team title. He threw 178-4 for second.
“I knew I could have gone way farther,” he said. “I just couldn’t keep the javelin straight today. The wind and cold was a factor on everything today.”
The problem was he was well shy of his 3A best 197-10, and disappointing because eight-seeded Tanner Lien of Bellevue went 188-6.
“It surprised me but I was confident because I had thrown that far. It just didn’t turn out the best,” said Evans, who expects better in the high jump today, “unless it’s going to be like this tomorrow. If it’s like this tomorrow it’s going to be hard but all I can do is do my best.”
Jones got a nice surprise in the high jump.
“To be honest, I knew my PR (6-6) was up there, but I didn’t think I’d be a state champ in it,” he said. “I thought my best chance was triple jump. I definitely wasn’t expecting to be a high jump champion.”
Defending champion Tasha Luu of Colville wasn’t unhappy with a bronze in the high jump, even though the 5-0 she cleared was 4 inches shy of her winning mark.
“I haven’t had a good season,” she said, focusing more on the long jump.
Another sophomore, Jennifer Nakata of Pullman, was thrilled to match the 5-2 she had last year as fifth-place finisher because it gave her second.
“I stayed consistent throughout the season,” she said. “There were five girls out there who had gone 5-4 this season and none of us could get it. I don’t want to blame the weather but the weather was definitely part of it, so I’m happy with the jumps I jumped today. It wasn’t the best day to jump on.”
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