YAKIMA – A big dose of speed, a lot of endurance, some strength and some hops.
The Greater Spokane League had it all as the two-day 4A/3A Eastern Regional track championship got under way at Eisenhower High School’s Zaepfel Stadium on Friday.
In state qualifying events – the top two in 3A and top four in 4A advance to Tacoma next weekend – the Spokane-area athletes ignored the biting wind to win 13 of 22 events.
They won three of four 400-meter relays and three of four 3,200s on Don Holder Track.
In field events they won both boys discus titles, the 3A girls shot put and high jump, 3A boys long jump and pole vault, and 4A girls long jump.
The day got off to a good start when North Central seniors Tressa Herrera and Rachel Day went 1-2 in the girls shot put and ended with two more Indians – senior Ben Johnston and freshman Katie Knight – grabbing gold in the 3,200.
“It kinda sucks that I didn’t throw that good today because I wanted to be placed better at state,” Herrera said of her throw, 35 feet, 11¼ inches, to win by 2 feet. “It’s nice getting first, better than third last week.”
It was Day who won districts.
“I wanted to show people I can be better,” she said. “It’s really cold and I had knee surgery last year, it messes up my knee sometimes.”
“Next week is for all the garbonzos,” Day added.
The Mt. Spokane boys clicked a hundredth off their school-record 400 relay (43.12 seconds) despite the wind.
“We practiced more this year than any other year,” leadoff leg Taylor Klundt said. “Today we were perfect.”
The Wildcats girls were a hundredth slower than their season best at 50.60.
“We practice our handoffs a lot and try to take risks,” third leg Joanna Luse, the lone senior, said. “We set our marks back farther so we stretch out more to get the baton to go faster. I’m sure we can go faster, I don’t know how much faster. We’re really strong.”
If there was a big surprise, it came in the boys discus.
Joe Meade of East Valley was fifth at district with a throw of 129-10, about 6 feet short of his best. Then he unloaded a throw of 143-2.
“I don’t know, I just threw one out there,” he said. “I had a good practice this week. I felt good. I just stayed relaxed.”
Pole vaulter Tyler Wilson of Shadle Park was determined to make state to make up for his no-height last year.
“When the pressure and spotlight is on it’s a little different,” he said. “It gets you pumped up – and the whole redemption factor. I’m not going to let that happen again.”
He surprised himself with a vault of 14-6, a half-foot improvement.
Johnston ran a comfortable 9:10.6 to beat Alan Schroeder of Mt. Spokane by 4 seconds, but Knight was a little different. She had to go 10:46.22, a 12-second PR, to beat fellow freshman Kendra Weitz of Shadle Park by 3 seconds.
“Without her I wouldn’t have gone that fast,” Knight said. “It was hard to kick off that, it was fast.”
NC’s Ashley Graybeal won the high jump (5-2) and Shane Concepcion led a Mt. Spokane 1-2-3 sweep in the long jump (21-8¼), although only Joe Murray also advances.
One of the more interesting events was the girls long jump.
Mead senior Jazmine Redmon was all smiles despite a mark of 16-10½, almost a foot short of the school record she set last week.
“I’m happy I made it to state,” she said. “I haven’t been since my freshman year.”
Central Valley senior Tonya Smith leapt to state on her final attempt, going 16-8¼, a half-foot improvement on her best and an 8-inch improvement for the day that moved her out of fifth.
“I was just pumped because I was in fifth place but I knew I just needed a few more inches to make it to state,” she said. “I had so much adrenaline. I just knew I had to do it.”
Ferris senior Adam Thorne followed up his district 9:06 in the 3,200 with a more conservative 9:13.73.
“I just wanted to qualify but I wanted to win as easily as possible,” he said.
Kamiakin’s Anthony Armstrong passed him with 200 meters to go, forcing a frantic finish.
“I thought district was the week to try to run fast, this week you try to qualify, run to win,” Thorne said. “It’s generous for regionals to get four out.”
As for the fast race, it was impressive to see Mead sophomore Wes Bailey hold off Pasco senior Marques Avery, the state leader in the 100, down the stretch in the 400 relay.
“We all know, if we all run, we give him that much room nobody is going to run him down,” leadoff sophomore Evan Mack said. “You have to believe, keep your head down and drive your feet, especially in this wind. We’ve been training for this all season. It was time to prove ourselves and we did.”
District 7 2A
DeAngelo Jones won three jumps and Shelby Maurer had her usual sprint as Cheney won team titles as the meet wrapped up at EWU’s Woodward Field.
Only Maurer improved one of her league-leading marks because of the wind, going 26.27 in the 200.
The Blackhawks also had a double win from distance ace freshman Sanne Holland. She ran a PR in the 1,600 (5:17.03) to go with the 3,200 she won the night before. The girls also lowered their season bests in two relays, the 800 (1:46.08) and 1,600 (4:03.78), anchored by Maurer.
Pullman had two girls complete doubles, with Niina Al-Hassan adding the 300 hurdles to the javelin and Jennifer Nakata adding the 100 hurdles (15.4) to the high jump.
The Greyhounds’ Wade Meyer won both hurdles with season bests, 15.45 in the 110 and 41.36 in the 300.
District 9 2B
At Clarkston, Warren Miller of St. John-Endicott/LaCrosse-Washtucna completed a double with winning the high jump to go with the triple jump he won Thursday. Chad Redman of Garfield-Palouse did the same in the hurdles
The Waitsburg-Prescott boys and Asotin girls won the team titles for the fourth years in a row.
The two three finishers in each event advanced to the state meet at EWU next weekend.
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