Gathering up equipment with two more championships in the books, the next head track coach at the Community Colleges of Spokane allowed how thrilled he was about his promotion.
“But it would be nice,” said Jason Cash, “if the shoes weren’t so big.”
It seemed as if each of the 20 event titles the Sasquatch won over the two days of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championships at Spokane Falls was celebrated wistfully, what with the looming retirement of Larry Beatty, who has presided over 15 years of dominance – and good times.
“It’s sad,” admitted distance runner Anthony Brown. “He’s like my hero.”
At least the Sasquatch sent Beatty out in style, both the men and women topping 250 points in romps over runner-up Clackamas, their seventh straight sweep. That runs his CCS total to 35, plus five combined titles in cross country and two track crowns in a brief stay at Clark College – and 321 NWAACC gold medalists.
“He’s such an amazing coach,” said Shadle Park graduate Shayle Dezellem, who won both women’s hurdles races to go with a heptathlon title earlier this month. “He just gets you so motivated, whether it’s about school or running or anything. You go charging out thinking, ‘I need to get this done.’ ”
He may even have that effect on the opposition. So dominant have Beatty’s Sasquatch been that any relief is huge – even if it takes some personal horse-trading. That seemed to be the case in the day’s final event, a sensational 4x400-meter relay, when Clackamas anchor Zach Rial held off Jesse Jorgensen by just .04 of a second. It may have played out differently without a furious second leg by the Cougars’ Chris Olsen, a 1:54 half-miler who 90 minutes earlier jogged home dead last in the 800 in 2:20, apparently saving himself for bigger things.
The Sasquatch didn’t have to pull out any close ones – with one exception.
Cody Peterson spent 99 meters – and change – chasing NWAACC leader Dusty Jarvis of Lane in the 100, the two dipping side by side at the finish. Then the drama heightened as all the runners agonized during a two-minute wait to see the results posted on the scoreboard – Peterson’s 11.03 clocking winning by a bare .01.
“He’s beaten me throughout the year and I had one more race to get him,” said the Rogers alum, who won Monday’s long jump as well. “I just had a feeling that this one was mine – that I earned that.”
Brown didn’t get everything he’d earned – he was the runner shoved off the track by Everett’s Bryton Reim after some bumping in Monday’s 10,000, in which Brown was the defending champ. Both runners were back in Tuesday’s 5,000, but never together – Brown running away to duplicate his 2010 title by a whopping 28 seconds.
“I just tried to forget about it – that stuff happens in the heat of battle,” said Brown, who never reached state in track at University High School but will run on a full ride at Southern Utah next year. “The adrenaline’s rushing and dumb stuff happens. I was disappointed because I knew I was going to win – but I won last year.”
On the women’s side, the Sasquatch were almost unbeatable on the track. Ebony Barnes swept the 100 and 200 and Dezellem was dominant in the hurdles en route to being the meet’s high-point athlete with 38 1/2. But the outstanding track athlete award was voted to freshman wunderkind Stephenie Cummings, who tried an impossible triple – and discovered just how impossible it was.
No athlete in the meet’s 64-year history had won the 100-200-400 combo – or the equivalent in yards. Cummings tried, opening with a 56.84 victory in the one-lapper. But with just 10 minutes until the 100, she ran a spent fifth – and then couldn’t keep up with Barnes in the 200. She did come back to anchor an easy CCS victory in the 4x400, her second relay of the day.
“I made the coaches let me run the 100,” Cummings said. “I said, ‘Four events isn’t enough.’ ”
And the verdict?
“Never doing that again,” she laughed.
Similarly, the outstanding track athlete – or one of those who shared the award – didn’t win a race Tuesday. CCS sophomore Spencer Wordell won the decathlon earlier this month, but came up short of defending his 400 hurdles title when he whacked the final barrier. Still, he had 28 1/2 points to top all men, and is enthused to ply the decathlon next year at Washington State University – and keep an eye on what’s happening at the Falls.
“Having coach Beatty retire is a big loss,” he said, “but the program will still thrive because of the legacy he put together.”