Community Colleges of Spokane ran away with the NWAACC track and field championships Friday at Spokane Falls Community College.
The Sasquatch women scored 224 points to sprint away from the Lane Titans, with 179, and Mt. Hood, with 131½.
The chase on the men’s side was, fittingly, more like a distance affair. CCS pulled away from the Titans late to win the two-team race 277½-251½, with third more than 200 in arrears.
It was the sixth straight title for the women and fifth for the men and eighth in nine years for both.
“The main thing is we had kids perform right to our performance list,” CCS coach Larry Beatty said. “The best thing is I like to see those kids smile.”
But the difference was distance, on and off the track, for the CCS men, especially with the sprint corps depleted by some hamstring issues.
The meet was dedicated to CCS distance coach Erik Anderson, who was killed in a tragic accident in February, and that helped the team focus on the task at hand.
“When he passed away, we came together and said we have to honor Erik by doing our best,” said Dak Riek, winner of the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. “Erik’s happy today. Everybody did their best.”
In the five events from the 800 through the 10,000, CCS placed 16 times, including four 1-2 finishes, and scored 102 points, 26 in each both the 1,500 and 3,000 steeplechase.
“We wanted to win the conference but ran even better because we ran for (Anderson),” steeplechase winner Sean Coyle said. “With the coach here, you’re running for yourself, but when you have a collective group of people running for one cause, this is what happens.”
The emotion extended beyond the Sasquatch distance corps.
Thrower Ashley Hutchinson won the shot put, discus and hammer and admitted to some heart-wrenching moments in the ring.
“In the back of my mind I was thinking about Coach Anderson and my mom,” the sophomore from Mead said. “Throwing in this ring for the last time, there were some flashbacks. Once in a while I could feel it deep inside, turning in the pit of my stomach.”
Hutchinson competed in the 4A Eastern Regional at this site two years ago, days after her mother unexpectedly died.
•Men: Track and field at CCS is about team.
Coyle, a Central Valley graduate, showed it first. He and Herschel Sanchey, who went 1-2 in the steeplechase on Thursday, followed the game plan in the 1,500. Coyle, known for his sprint, could have won, but knowing it was Sanchey (4:01.42) on his heels he didn’t cut loose and finished second by a step.
Riek also showed the team thing, ignoring time in the 5,000, which he won in 15:21.42, to help teammates pacing off him. Rigoberto Jimenez finished behind Riek for the second time.
“Today we were running for the team. I would surge to burn everybody out, and shut it off and wait for him so we could work as a team,” said Riek, a Sudan native and freshman from Mariner High School in Everett. “We all did the job we were supposed to be doing.”
CCS and Lane, which piled up points in the speed events, were fairly even late in the day until the 5,000, which produced 20 points. Three throwers picked up 17 points in the javelin.
The Sasquatch got off to a good start with a 1-2 in the 110 hurdles by surprise winner Victor Austin (15.07) and Tim Armstrong (15.08). Deonta Edwards, who tied for the male field athlete award, pitched in with a personal record of 6 feet, 10½ inches in the high jump. In the javelin, Jason Flemmer was second (203-11) with Kahel Smith fourth (188-6) and Randy McCoy fifth (186-4).
Armstrong, a sophomore from East Valley, was the workhorse for the men’s team, adding a third in the 400 hurdles, a leg on the runner-up 1,600 relay, all after finishing third in the decathlon at the multievent championships just more than two weeks ago.
•Women: Hutchinson’s win in the shot put on Thursday was the most emotional one, because she wasn’t favored and she came through with a 3-foot PR. The discus (127-5) and hammer (169-8) were expected.
“It was a good way to end my season. I had such a rough beginning,” she said, referring to injuries and illness. “In the discus I would have liked to have thrown better, and in the hammer. I wanted the conference record, but I got the school record so I’m really pleased.”
The triple propels her on to the next phase of her life, competing for the University of Wyoming.
“My whole goal was to go to a four-year,” said Hutchinson, who turned down a couple of smaller schools two years ago to stay at home. “The coach talked to me right off the bat. They have one of the best hammer coaches and (CCS throws coach Ryan) Weidman talked him up. Plus, they have what I want to study – architectural engineering.”
The CCS women had a great day even without injured sprint star Chantel James, leaving 20-plus points on the sidelines.
Vanessa Harris came through in the 100 (12.44), and with a second in the 200. Brittnee Sanchez, second in the 1,500, came back to win the 5,000 (19:16.65).
CCS also won the 400 (47.25) and 1,600 relays (4:01.98), with Harris, Myisha Valentine and Taylor Cook, a sophomore from Mead, running on both. Cook was also fourth in the 100, third in the 200 and was an inch shy of placing in the long jump and a couple of feet short in the javelin, all after finishing second in the heptathlon.
•Individual awards: High point: Phillip Noble, Treasure Valley (37½) and Catherine Sims, Mt. Hood (40). Track athlete of the meet: Chris Stubbs, Lane; Sims. Field athlete: Seth Lindquist, Lane; Deonta Edwards, CCS; Ashley Hutchinson, CCS; Lacey Kennedy, Mt. Hood. Coach of the Year, Blas Guerra, Treasure Valley men; Larry Beatty, CCS women.
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