GRESHAM, Ore. – The Community Colleges of Spokane women flooded the front of the pack in the 5,000-meter finale late in Tuesday’s session to power the Sasquatch to the team title at the Northwest Athletic Conference track championships.
CCS had been trading spots with Lane CC atop the leaderboard throughout the two-day competition, but the Sasquatch put the trophy out of reach by putting four runners on the podium for a total of 26 points in the 5K race.
Gracie Ledwith broke out to a big lead early and ran most of the 12.5-lap race alone out front. Less than a mile into the race, she had already gained a full corner of the track on the rest of the field. She won the race in 18:41.68.
“I stayed motivated by thinking about what splits I wanted to hit,” Ledwith said. “I came up a little short on that with some tired legs from yesterday, so I just focused on coming in first.”
Ledwith won the 10K on Monday in 40:13.70.
A tightly bunched support pack with as many as eight runners followed her around the track before CCS’ Kaylee Marquardt and Bailey Birch made their move with a mile to go.
“I was going to wait one more lap, but my teammates were moving all around and I heard them shout for me to move up, so I figured, OK, why not now?” Marquardt said.
Marquardt and Birch built a healthy gap on the rest of the support pack to fill out a Sasquatch sweep.
“We have all been close together during workouts, so we felt strong about being able to pull off a 1-2-3 finish,” Marquardt said.
At nearly the same time Ledwith was crossing through the finish line, teammate Rashae Spencer was sailing over the bar for a win in the high jump. Spencer picked up the first-place points after a jump-off against Mt. Hood’s Tori Wilkerson with the bar at 5 feet, 1 3/4 inches.
Wilkerson had the first sudden-death attempt but wasn’t close, knocking the bar off on her way up. Spencer made quick work of the tiebreaker by sailing over cleanly on her attempt, then jumping into the arms of several teammates to celebrate.
“After she missed, it was all on me,” Spencer said. “I just had to keep my head in it – at that point it becomes a mental game. I closed my eyes, shut everyone out and just jumped.”
The back-to-back big efforts took the pressure off CCS’ 1,600relay team, which simply needed to avoid a last-place finish to secure the team trophy. The Sasquatch would easily manage that, coming through the finish line in second place.
Spokane won the team title with 215 points – 5.5 ahead of runner-up Lane.
The Sasquatch also got field-event wins from Toa Levi in the shot put (41-7) and Elisha Allred in the discus (140-4).
Lane won the men’s meet with 275 points, while CCS was second with a 202 total. No other team cracked 100 points.
The 400 final was a turning point in the team chase with Lane and CCS filling more than half the lanes. The Titans came through with a 1-2 effort led by Cornellous Berry (48.01), outscoring the Sasquatch by six points.
CCS sophomore Andrew Stitch turned in a courageous effort to finish second in the 400 hurdles. His landing gear failed him coming down off the first hurdle and by the time he regained his balance there was a whole crowd of racers in front of him.
Stitch crossed the line in second place – 1.4 seconds behind Lane’s Michael Capri.
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