State high school track preview
4A/3A/2A track and field: At Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma, today, Friday and Saturday.
The Mead boys and girls were dominant last year. The boys scored 82½ points, more than double the runner-up and the most in big-school history, and look to be a threat to win their third straight title. The girls had 65 points, 18 more than second, to win their second title in school history and are a trophy contender again.
Wes Bailey leads the boys, back as the defending champion and top 300 hurdler and ranked second in the 200, where he was fourth. Plus he runs anchor for the state-leading 400 relay that includes two other veterans, Mike Smith and Evan Maack. A pair of juniors, Seth Regalado and Sam Hilmes, scored in the discus and shot put last year. Then there is sophomore Andrew Gardner. He ran a state record for freshmen in the 3,200 to place second but was tapped out for the 1,600. He has qualified in both again. Two other GSL placers are back: Gonzaga Prep sprinter Bobby Condon in the 100 and Central Valley’s Billy Rowell in the shot put.
Baylee Mires is the two-time defending champion in the girls 800 and 1,600 and the anchor for Mead’s 1,600 relay, good for two more golds. This year she has added the 400, a challenge not seen at this level. Teammate Courtney Hutchinson was the upset winner in the shot put as a freshman, where Central Valley state placer Paula Jennings returns. The Panthers have also qualified their other two relay teams.
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Mead’s run for a ninth boys crown should be interesting because John Mires’ teams have a history of coming through in the clutch but it will be more interesting to see how his daughter fares in her challenge. Of course, the meet has national javelin leader Sam Keller of Heritage in Vancouver (232-1).
The North Central boys won by two points last year while the Columbia River girls tied with Glacier Peak and the races should be just as close this year.
The Indians have relied on their distance runners to put them in position to win three straight titles and their quest for a fourth should be no exception with Andrew Wordell in the 800 and 1,600, Vince Hamilton in the 16 and 3,200, Keith Williams in the 800 and Casey Adams in the 1,600, where he was third last year. The distance runners have their work cut out for them from several sources, most notably state cross country champion Nathan Weitz of Shadle Park. But to win it takes more and returning high-jump placer Billy Haven, who also qualified in the 100 hurdles, plays a key role for NC as does Jon Stratton, freshmen Darneal Griffin and Gunnar Swagger, who have an individual event and relay, and Jake Hoffman, a sophomore on two relays. Discus thrower Matthew Lill could also place. Shadle Park pole vaulter Tyler Wilson was second a year ago.
NC’s Celena Ward could join a select group of large-school athletes if she places in all three throwing events. She was a placer in the discus and javelin last year and is also going in shot. Mt. Spokane’s two placing pole vaulters return, senior Britta LaVoie and sophomore Courtney Bray. But the truth is most eyes are on the track, where sophomores Katie Knight of NC and Kendra Weitz of Shadle Park always put on a good show. Trouble is, when they get to state, they run smack into another amazing soph, Amy Eloise Neale, the state leader in the 8, 16 and 32.
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If you’re a fan of distance running, the top three girls and six of the top 12 boys in the mile are in this meet as are the top three boys and three of the top four girls in the 2-mile.
The Black Hills boys and Sehome girls are the defending champions but Cheney could certainly make a run this year in both.
With Diondre Moore-Young among the leaders in the 100, 200 and both hurdles, the Blackhawks boys have a good place to start. Javelin thrower Dakota Condos is also a returning placer. West Valley has three returnees, high jumper Matt Mauro, pole vaulter Joe Aubert and Tyler Poldervardt in the shot put. The other placer is Pullman’s Ben Pavish in the triple jump.
Sanne Holland, who placed in both distance races as a freshman, leads the Cheney girls. Pullman has a pair of double placers, Jennifer Nakata in the high jump and 100 hurdles and Anna Guo in both horizontal jumps. Nakata is a two-time placer in the HJ, as is Colville’s Tasha Luu, who was state champ as a freshman in 2009. Deer Park’s Bailee Jacka and Cheney’s Erin Clark rank 1-2 in the pole vault, Guo is No. 1 in the triple jump, No. 2 in long jump. Clarkston’s Jamie Weisner was the 4A champion in the javelin last year for Walla Walla but with a family move to Clarkston, she faces quite an uphill challenge to get another gold.
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Christine Kirkwood of Othello set a state record in the javelin last year at 162-10 and has upped that to 173-9 this year, which is second in the nation.