Competition will be fierce for state spots
A number of state-caliber athletes will fall short of earning state berths this weekend in the 4A and 3A Regional track meets.
Just two state berths are available in each event for Greater Spokane League and Mid-Columbia Conference athletes when the two-day meets begin Friday at Spokane Falls Community College.
“It’s going to be brutal,” Central Valley girls coach Geoff Arte said. “A lot of good kids won’t qualify for state. We’re taking the approach that if you place high at regionals and you don’t get to state you should still be very proud. Our region is tough.”
Three state berths awaited athletes a year ago. But the breakup of the Columbia Basin Big Nine reduced the state allocations to one each for the GSL and the new conference that emerged, the MCC.
Athletes could earn state berths by meeting minimum state qualifying standards. For that to happen, though, athletes will likely have to put up state-level times or marks.
Action begins Friday at 3:30 in running prelims while finals in a handful of field events get under way at 3:45.
There will be finals Friday for 4A and 3A girls in the javelin, shot put, long jump and high jump for girls and long jump, pole vault and discus for 4A and 3A boys. Running finals Friday consist of the 400-meter relay and 3,200 for all boys and girls.
The balance of the field events will be contested Saturday beginning at 10:30 a.m., followed 30 minutes later by the first running final.
In 4A boys and girls, the GSL athletes are favored in the majority of events. In 3A, the GSL boys and the MCC girls are favored.
Mead’s boys and CV’s girls are favored in the team races in 4A while Kamiakin’s girls, defending 3A state champs, will likely run away from the field. North Central is favored in boys.
Pass the glue
Had the Great Northern League decided to send athletes directly to state from district, it would have had just one berth per event.
So the GNL talked with the Central Washington Athletic Conference. Ultimately the GNL was invited to merge its state allocation with the CWAC in what is being called a glue meet.
This gives GNL athletes an opportunity to earn two state berths per event while the CWAC can earn as many as four while stealing the extra berth from the GNL.
Sounds like a risky proposition but GNL athletic directors decided the reward was greater than the risk. By also combing with the CWAC, any GNL athlete meeting the minimum state qualifying standard in an event will advance to state.
The meet is Saturday in Prosser.
Up, up and away
Austin Upmeyer, a senior from University, is seeded to win the 200 and 400 at regionals and runs a leg on the top 1,600 relay.
He ran a season best 22.30 seconds in the 200 at district last week and 49.45 in the 400. His season best in the 400 is 49.36, which ranks second in 3A behind speedy Marcus Chambers of Foss (46.62).
Upmeyer ranks eighth in the state in the 200.
He teamed with Daniel Brunner, Adrian Bonner and Marquise Whitsett for a season best 3:25.86 in the 1,600 relay at district. That ranks the Titans third. Bellevue (3:22.46) is first.
Upmeyer, Brunner and Bonner were part of the 1,600 relay that won a regional title last year in a time of 3:24.52. At state, they placed fifth.
Upmeyer has high goals if he qualifies for state. In his two individual events at state last year, his lone medal came in the 400 and it was eighth.
Just get there
That will be standout thrower Damon Unland’s goal at regionals.
The Ferris senior continued to be nagged at district by a groin injury suffered during spring break.
Unland hopes another week of rest – he said he wasn’t going to throw at practice this week – will get him closer to 100 percent.
He’ll do what needs to be done to qualify for state – where he hopes to repeat as state champ in the discus and win in the shot.
Isaiah Trout, Jalen Hicks and Alex Tullos went 1-2-3 in the triple jump at district.
They could have an encore effort at regionals.
Why are the Saxons so deep in one event?
Trout had a simple explanation.
“We have good coaches,” Trout said. “We all have athletic ability but it’s our coaches’ jobs to do the best with it.”
• Another event dominated at the top by athletes from the same team is in the pole vault.
Mead’s Blasé Neumann (14-6) and teammates Colton McLendon (14-0) and Aleks Vasilyev (14-0) lead GSL vaulters.
Neumann is a senior. McLendon is a junior and Vasilyev is a sophomore, and they give ageless coach Mike Fleming two more prospects to work with next year.
• Courtney Bray of Mt. Spokane became the overall state leader in the pole vault when she leaped 12-9 at district, breaking the meet record and extending her school record.