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Baxter, Skillingstad, Kopczynski complete doubles

East Valley’s Scott Kopczynski, right, and teammate Chad Stevens, left, are on their way to 1-2 finish in 2A 3,200 race. (Patrick Hagerty)
East Valley’s Scott Kopczynski, right, and teammate Chad Stevens, left, are on their way to 1-2 finish in 2A 3,200 race. (Patrick Hagerty)

TACOMA – A pair of Great Northern League hurdlers left their mark at the Star Track XXXIII.

And both have good futures. West Valley senior Mack Baxter is headed to the University of Idaho while Cheney sophomore KD Skillingstad broke onto the state scene in a big fashion.

Both winners in the shortest hurdle races on Friday, Baxter and Skillingstad were double winners, taking State 2A titles in the 300-meter hurdles Saturday at Mt. Tahoma High School.

Baxter won in a conservative time of 37.87 seconds while Skillingstad stumbled just before the finish line but pulled out a victory in a season-best 44.40.

“It wasn’t a (personal best) because I was trying to save something for the 1,600 relay,” Baxter said. “I wasn’t going gung-ho. I was just running fast enough to win.”

As it turned out, WV didn’t have the bodies to chase state champion River Ridge. WV finished with 55 points while River Ridge had 71.

Still, Baxter relished the hurdles sweep.

“It feels special,” Baxter said. “It usually doesn’t hit me until I’m in the tunnel (awaiting his award).”

Skillingstad left her mark on the track in more ways than one. She was sporting a skin burn on her right shoulder after her tumble at the finish line.

“I knew it was going to be some good competition so coming around the last 100 meters I just gave it every ounce of my body and even left some behind (skin),” Skillingstad said, smiling. “To be a double champ, it’s more than I can ask for as a sophomore.”

Speaking of a double champ, East Valley senior Scott Kopczynski not only doubled in the 1,600 and 3,200 but he defended state titles. He and teammate Chad Stevens finished 1-2 in the 3,200 after doing the same in the 1,600 on Thursday.

Kopczynski finished in a time of 9:08.64 and Stevens crossed in 9:17.77.

“I was hurting really bad,” said Kopczynski, who is headed to Gonzaga. “I was almost out of gas.”

He said the wind and his early surge were to blame for his pain.

Stevens captured the state cross country title while Kopczynski took third.

“He’s made me a better competitor,” Kopczynski said of his teammate. “He made me realize that even if you feel you’re the best you can still get beat.”

Stevens plans to fulfill an LDS mission before running in college.

The 36 points earned by the Knights runners earned EV third and a trophy.

EV’s Brittany Aquino, who broke the school record and won the 1,600 on Thursday, took second in the 3,200 (11:02.35) on Saturday.

“I’m not disappointed at all,” Aquino said of finishing second. “I thought the race played out well. I did the best I could for sure.”

The Pullman girls took third with 44 points. Shorecrest won with 57.

Others receiving medals were: Angel Nkwonta of Pullman, who took second in the 100 (12.32) and fourth in the 200 (26.06); Tevin Duke of WV took fifth in the 200 (22.60); the Pullman girls 400 relay took fourth (49.54); McCall Skay of WV placed fifth in the 3,200 (11:23.62); Zechariah Herford of WV was fifth in the 100 (11.24) and fifth in the 200 (22.60); the WV boys 400 relay took second (42.58) and the 1,600 relay placed third (3:23.90); and Alex Dyfort of WV was fourth in the discus (154-1).

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