TACOMA – Baylee Mires’ teammates took no chances.
There was too much at stake: a third gold medal, a team trophy and the title of first family of Spokane track for their tiny but tough-as-nails leader.
Junior Alexa Banaugh put the Mead 1,600-meter relay team safely in front on the first lap Saturday evening, senior Krissy Hund protected it the second and junior Jazmine Redmon blistered the closing 200 to give Mires the baton with nothing to do but take a victory lap.
It was a fitting to end the State 4A track meet at Mount Tahoma High School for the Greater Spokane League.
The Panthers ran 3 minutes, 54.55 seconds, the 22nd-fastest time in state history, an impressive feat considering Mires was dominant in capturing the 800 and 1,600 early on the hot, breezy day and a great way to end in the State 4A track meet for the GSL.
“My cheeks hurt from smiling so much,” the ebullient sophomore said. “I think I’ve got lockjaw, but it’s good because it’s a smile.”
The Mead girls finished with 42 1/3 points for third place behind Bellarmine Prep (56) and Curtis (48).
The Mead boys scored 49 points to beat Kent-Meridian, Central Kitsap and Todd Beamer by 15 points for the Panthers’ sixth state title, the second for coach John Mires.
“It’s a little hard to highlight a single individual,” John Mires, a Mead alum, said. “We had some big points but we managed to scrape and take little pieces all over. We had high expectations and everyone came through.”
There was only one GSL boys title, Lewis and Clark’s Joe Zimmerman seizing a put-up-or-shut-up javelin competition that had five throwers exceed 200 feet.
But the day belonged to the Mires family, Baylee in particular.
She won the 800 in 2:11:37, a 3-second personal record, at 11:20 a.m.; the 1,600 in 4:56.35, almost a 1-second PR from her second-place finish last year, at 4:20 p.m.; and then capped the day at 5:20, or about 5:23 when Redmon handed her the baton.
“It’s so rewarding to watch your little girl,” John Mires said. “You have to compartmentalize, which is what track is all about.”
Baylee Mires’ times were top 20 all time in the 800 and top 40 in the 1,600.
“I came in confident but not overconfident,” she said. “It was a grounded confidence. I knew I was competing against good girls, but I knew what I could do.”
Mires ran a comfortable opening 800 before moving out front on the third lap, only because the leader was running wide. She surged to start the last lap, but with 200 meters to go Sarah Lord of Redmond tried to go around. Mires held her ground and buried last year’s third-place finisher down the stretch.
“That’s incredible,” she said. “I don’t know how I did that. She came into me but I protected my space and ran like there was no tomorrow.”
The pressure fell to her teammates for the relay, which came in as the state best.
“It feels good, we’re state champions,” Banaugh said. “I was worried when I was over there puking before the race. It was just nerves.”
When Redmon, who ran with Banaugh on the fifth-place 400 relay and seventh-place 800 relay, saw that, she followed suit.
“Placing three times was the goal,” she said. “This just makes it.”
There was one other particularly stellar girls competition. Central Valley senior Emily Deishl uncorked a school-record throw of 141-3 in the javelin on the last attempt of her prep career, only to lose the state title by an inch on the next throw.
“My last throw, a PR by 10 feet, is just as good as winning for me,” she said. “(Losing) is not as bad as people might think. Brooke (Randall of Eastmont) is a good competitor. She’s more consistent than me. I have my school record on my last throw at state. It was my dream.”
The Ferris girls were academic state champions.
The javelin competition was amazing.
Zimmerman, who has battled a football shoulder injury all season, got his winner – 208-04, the third-best “new” implement throw in state history – on his fifth throw, followed by a 207 on his last to prove it wasn’t a fluke.
“I’m just stoked,” the senior headed for Washington to throw said. “I was third the last two years.”
LC junior Levi Taylor also cracked the barrier with a 201-8 for fourth.
Mead’s Justin Graff, the state leader coming in, tweaked a sore knee in warmups and struggled before going 200-5 on his last throw to move up a couple of spots to fifth.
“I just couldn’t plant on it, it would just buckle,” Graff said. “On the last one, I just didn’t think about it. I tried to get as many points as I could for the team.”
The much-anticipated 800 didn’t quite play out how the trio of local runners expected, considering they all ran under 1:53 last weekend.
In a fast but not breakneck race, state leader Justin Zimmerman of Ferris faded to sixth (1:54.35), No. 2-ranked Jordan Curnutt of Mead came from last to second (1:53.20) behind surprising sophomore Derrick Daigre of Kent-Meridian (1:52.57). No. 3 Brad Whitley of Central Valley struggled to seventh (1:54.73).
“I just locked up at the end, something weird happened,” said Zimmerman, who ran 1:51.69 at districts two weeks ago.
“It’s all a blur,” said Curnutt, who ran nearly identical 1:52.5s his previous two finals. “I was in Lane 8. It’s hard to get in there when you’re in a lane that bad. (Down the stretch) I was trying to get every point I could for the team, it was my last race in the blue and gold.”
Whitley, who was third last year and lowered his school record to 1:52.95 last week, said: “It was physical. There were elbows everywhere. I got spiked three times.”
Adam Thorne of Ferris got his second bronze medal in decidedly different fashion than the first. He tried to run away with the 3,200 on Thursday but was swallowed up by the midway point. In the 1,600 he broke away to start the third lap but couldn’t sustain the advantage.
“Everyone was giving me a tough time,” he said of his rabbit 3,200, “so I decided to be smarter. I felt I had to (surge at 800). You always want to win, but I’m happy I ran a little smarter.”
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