YAKIMA – When Ferris senior Natalie Kyllo stepped into the discus for her last throw of the 4A/3A Eastern Regional track meet Saturday afternoon, four competitors were ahead of her.
When she stepped out she was in third, a trip to the state meet next week in her pocket because she finally broke loose, improving about 6 feet to 129 feet, 10 inches.
Two throwers later, inspired by her classmate, previously frustrated Alexa Lindseth finally unleashed a throw that secured the elusive school record she had been pursing for more than a month and a championship, marking a 137-9.
It was that kind of day for Greater Spokane League athletes at Zaepfel Stadium.
Spokane teams swept all four team titles – Mead’s boys and girls in 4A, and the Mt. Spokane girls and North Central boys in 3A. The NC title was the most dramatic as the Indians had to beat Mt. Spokane in a stirring 1,600-meter relay for the two-point win.
As far as state berths, the GSL snagged more than its share.
Spokane was dominant in 3A. Although the GSL had eight individuals per event to the Columbia Basin Big Nine’s four, both leagues had pooled their single state entries. GSL boys came away with 25 of 34 berths; GSL girls 21 of 36. Between them they had 25 wins in 35 events.
The 4A wasn’t dominating but the entries were flip-flopped, with the GSL getting five to the CBBN’s 11. Although four advance to state, the GSL was only throwing one slot into the pool. With that in mind, the boys were plus-8 with 25 of 68 state berths, and the girls were plus-11 with 29 of 71. Spokane snagged 16 of 35 titles.
There were 60 individual titles and 11 GSL athletes were double winners – and some of those ran legs on teams that won six of the 10 relays.
Adam Thorne (1,600-3,200) of Ferris, Levi Taylor (javelin-triple jump) of Lewis and Clark and Sam Wright (shot put-discus), and Jazmine Redmon (long jump-400) and Baylee Mires (800-1,600) of Mead were double winners in 4A; Cor’de Bailey (100-200) of Rogers, Shane Concepcion (long jump-triple jump) of Mt. Spokane, and Ben Johnston (1,600-3,200), Luke Evans (high jump-javelin), Celena Ward (javelin-discus) and Katie Knight (1,600-3,200) of North Central were the 3A doubles.
The State 4A/3A/2A meet is in Tacoma beginning Thursday.
Midway through the meet was delayed 30 minutes after a Walla Walla shot putter was hit by a shot put during warmups. Just prior to that, Mead 1,600 meter runner Josh Greer staggered over the finish line and collapsed. Another ambulance took him away, although he returned before the end of the meet.
Even after accepting their medals, Kyllo and Lindseth were still grumbling about their first five throws.
“I just said, ‘Well, this is it,’ and went after it,” Kyllo said. “I was scared I wasn’t going to get to state.”
She had thrown 129-5 last year and was a state medalist but was only at 125-3 this season.
Lindseth broke 130 feet last year, and also placed second at state. She hit 132-8 more than a month ago, which had her eyeing the 133-1 Jessica Pluth threw in 1999.
“I was just so frustrated because I hadn’t broken the school record and I’ve been throwing since sixth grade. That was really important to me,” she said, adding that Kyllo’s throw helped her. “I said, ‘OK, now that you did it I can do it.’ We always feed off each other.”
Mires’ 1,600 was delayed by the shot put accident.
The delay didn’t affect Mead shot putter Sam Wright, who uncorked a 19-inch PR of 58-2, which came a day after his 15-inch PR in the discus.
“Hard work,” he said. “The work was a little lighter this week so I knew the shot was going to feel light. I was ready. For this week I’m happy with it.”
A year ago, Ferris’ Justin Zimmerman was setting the regional record in the 800, which came a week after an even more exciting district 800 race.
This time he ran 1:57.03, almost 5 seconds slower.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know I had the regional record until a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “This year I’m trying to peak right.”
Johnston, the cross country champion, is poised to make a run at the distance running triple crown, which would be Spokane’s first since Evan Garber of Mead in 2004.
For three laps he was on pace to break a regional record, but after a solid win in the 3,200 Thursday, a second race with a strong wind on the backstretch caught up to him, as did worrying about the race behind him with four teammates and Mt. Spokane’s Allan Schroeder and Shadle Park’s Nathan Weitz.
“Last night kind of tired me out and coming back today in this wind was tough,” Johnston said. “It’s tough, because you know some people are going to be staying home and you just hope it’s not going to be a teammate or your running friends.”
NC junior Casey Adams snagged the second spot, with Weitz third for the second straight race. Schroeder got the 3,200 berth.
NC had some tense moments at the high jump pit.
Evans and Bill Haven both cleared 6-3, as did a Hanford jumper. Evans was the winner and Haven was told he was third. After NC coaches and the games committee got involved, it was determined there was a tie for second, with a jump-off to determine the state qualifier. Both missed at 6-4 and 6-3 before Haven won at 6-2.
“That was crazy,” Haven said. “Every jump could have been your last. I hope I never have to do a jump-off again. That’s too much pressure for me.”
Ward wasn’t surprised to win two events, but after winning her favorite on Friday she had a 4-foot PR of 117-5 in the discus to win by more than 10 feet.
“I was ranked first (in both), but I was really nervous for javelin,” she said. “There was a lot of good competition and (discus) isn’t really my event. I felt good today, though.”
The 3A girls also won both hurdles, with Mt. Spokane’s Joanna Luse using a good start to hold off fast-closing Shayle Dezellem of Shadle Park. Dezellem then came back for a PR and school-record 44.56 in the 300 hurdles.
“I finally ran the race I wanted to run,” Dezellem said. “Oh, yeah, there was wind. I just knew that I had to get out fast and finish strong and I did it.”
Luse ran well in the 100s after placing well back in the 300s. Her 15.23 broke her 15.26 PR from last year’s fifth at state, when she finished two spots behind Dezellem.
“The 300s are not my favorite,” she said. “The whole (100) felt wonderful, one of the best races I’ve ever had.”
Shadle Park senior Martha Wagley had a PR, improving about 2 inches to 34-1¼ triple jumping into the strong wind.
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