Two local distance runners took different paths to 3,200-meter state titles Thursday night.
Shania Graham of Republic was propelled by past disappointment to win the Class 1B championship, while Tracy Melville of Lind-Ritzville was pushed by a friendly rivalry to take the Class 2B title.
After losing by less than half a second last year as a freshman, Graham took the initiative from the start in the first event of the three-day meet at Roos Field in Cheney.
“It was hard losing by half a second, so this feels pretty good,” said Graham, who had mixed feelings after the race. She won in 12 minutes, 38.05 seconds – more than half a minute ahead of the field but almost a minute slower than last year’s narrow loss to Kelsey Browning of Waterville.
“It’s more fun to have someone push me,” said Graham, who also plans to compete in the 800 and 1,600 this weekend. “I’m really bad at pushing myself, so I had to listen to my coach.”
Still, winning the title was simply “hard work paying off,” said Graham, a senior.
In contrast, the 2B race was close from the start, with Melville forcing the pace and trying to wear down the field.
Close behind was St. George’s junior Marika Morelan, who stayed with Melville in the early going, then faded a bit before a closing kick left her 3 seconds behind at the finish.
The result: Melville’s winning time of 11:04.63 was the fastest of the three classifications Thursday night, 3 seconds better than the 11:07.61 run by 1A champion Erin Mullin of Cascade-Leavenworth.
“She does a great job of running strategically – I don’t,” said Morelan, who like Melville will compete in the 800 and 1,600.
With that in mind, Melville took comfort that even if those races don’t go as she hopes, “you still have something to fall back on,” Melville said.
In the 2B boys 1,600, St. George’s junior Nathan Vanos finished third in 4:29.09, two seconds ahead of fourth-place Jack Ammon of Northwest Christian.
That was the last race of the night. With the 1A 1,600 runners waiting to compete, officials suspended the meet because of lightning. The meet will resume today at 9:40 a.m.
Just before the storm hit, Melyssa Whitener won the 1B girls pole vault with a meet record 10 feet, 3 inches.
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