Ferris junior Justin Zimmerman spent the week learning the pace he needed in order to run the 800 meters in the 1-minute, 52-second range.
“I thought if I was able to run those times in the wind there was no telling what I could do in good conditions,” he said, especially since he set his personal record of 1:55 in the rain at Shoreline a couple of weeks ago.
Ideal conditions finally arrived for the finals of the District 8 track meet at Spokane Falls Community College on Friday and the Greater Spokane League athletes were ready, none more so than Zimmerman.
In the regional-qualifying 4A and 3A meet that featured too many PRs to count, numerous area bests and a handful of state bests, nothing stood out quite like the 4A boys 800.
Zimmerman, Mead’s Jordan Curnutt and Brad Whitley of Central Valley hooked up from the start and kept pushing until Zimmerman pulled away in the final 200 meters.
The former 400 runner who opened the season with a 2:02, crossed the line with a state-leading, school-record and meet-record 1:51.69.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “My main goal was to beat Curnutt. I was expecting 1:54.”
Making it sweeter was the fact that former district meet record holder, Wade Ingebritsen, who ran 1:52.3 for North Central in 1986, was there to watch his daughter run and was able to shake the hand of Zimmerman, the third Spokane runner to dip under 1:52 with the 21st-fastest time in state history. Rich Mesmer of Shadle Park went 1:50.8 and Fred Lake of Rogers ran 1:51.0, both in 1966.
The 4A schools advanced five individuals per event and two relay teams; the 3A teams advanced eight and four to the regional with the Columbia Basin League schools next weekend at SFCC.
Mead’s boys and girls easily won 4A titles, the girls 189-147½ over CV, the boys 221-138½ over Ferris. In 3A, the NC boys won 227½-153½ over Mt. Spokane while the Wildcats girls won 226-174 over Shadle Park.
Boys: Ferris junior Adam Thorne had almost a 5-second PR in winning the 1,600 (4:14.67) to go with the 3,200 he captured Thursday evening.
“I’m happy with the mile. That’s a big PR,” he said. “I had a good last lap. State is still two weeks away. I hope I haven’t peaked all the way. I’m feeling strong and things are coming together.”
In a shot put competition that had all five advancers beyond 50 feet, Saxons junior Kjelby Oiland led the way with a near-foot PR of 54 feet, 5¾ inches.
Mead senior Justin Graf took the state lead in the javelin at 201-11 on his only throw of the competition.
Lewis and Clark senior Zach Robinson won the 100 for the third straight year, the first to do that since Anthony Buchanan of University, who graduated in 2000. Teammate Levi Taylor took the area lead in the triple jump (46-9½).
Girls: There was quite a discus competition that was decided when first junior Natalie Kyllo of Ferris completed a season-best series with a 129-5 on her final throw. She was beyond 120 on all throws before finishing with close to a 10-foot PR.
“I stopped doing this bad habit I have and it worked,” she said, glancing at her left foot. “It was just a lot of practice.”
University’s Maddy Fuchs had a solid double in the hurdles, winning the 100s in 16.11 before destroying the 300s in 44.68 to lower her school record.
“That’s the first PR I’ve had all season so I’m happy,” she said. “We’ve been working real hard to peak at state like I did last year and I’m finally starting to see improvement. I feel like I’m a mile ahead of last year. I’ve felt stronger all season.”
To no one’s surprise, Ferris junior Kelsey Lin easily doubled in the 100 (12.37) and 200 (25.91) and Mead sophomore Baylee Mires doubled in the 800 (2:16.37) and 1,600 (4:59.52) plus ran anchor for the state-best 1,600 relay (3:56.86).
Boys: Rogers junior Corde Bailey put on quite a show in the sprints, taking the 100 (11.03) and 200 (22.21) to go with the 400 relay the Pirates won.
Mt. Spokane senior Jason Nokes finally got his district title, something he had hoped for since breaking the GSL freshman record in the 400 with a 51.1.
However, he didn’t break 50 seconds until two weeks ago, matching it with a 49.9.
“My sophomore and junior year I was fighting some health problems,” he said. “It was my stomach. It wasn’t anything major. It just held me back. It was real frustrating. I thought my sophomore year I would go sub-50.”
Nokes then anchored the Wildcats’ 1,600 relay team to a state-leading 3:22.4.
East Valley’s James Dorr became 3A’s first 50-foot shot putter (50-1½) to go with his discus title.
North Central had some strong performances. The Indians took the top six places in the 800 and top three in the 1,600, both won by Leon Dean (1:57.76, 4:16.88). Spencer Wordell had an amazing run in the 300 hurdles, seemingly on pace to get below 38 seconds before stumbling over the last hurdle. He still managed to get up and finish in 40.58. Luke Evans threw a 3A state-best and school-record 196-0 in the javelin.
Girls: Shadle junior Shayle Dezellem kept the family’s good season going with a huge PR in the 300 hurdles (46.24) and helped the 1,600 relay team to a season-best (4:06.30).
Earlier, with her sister as the point guard, the Highlanders, coached by her father, placed second in state basketball.
“I’m definitely better at track, but I still love basketball,” she said. “My brother was more of a soccer player so we’re all different.”
Teammate Andrea Nelson added the 1,600 (5:15.30) to the 3,200 title she won.
NC’s Larisa Steirwalt had a foot PR to win the triple jump (34-8¼).
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.