TACOMA – Justin Janke’s quest to complete the Triple Crown was highly successful.
To do what the North Central senior did Saturday, though, one must consider what he had to overcome.
First, he had to run eight times into the teeth of a stiff wind. Second, he had to ward off a competitive field.
No wonder by the time Janke crossed the finish line in an amazing season best of 8 minutes, 55.96 seconds to capture the State 3A championship in the 3,200 meters, he felt like he had been spinning his wheels in place and getting nowhere.
Where Janke got as Star Track concluded at Mount Tahoma High School was in exclusive company. He became only the third NC athlete to complete the Triple Crown – state cross country, 1,600 and 3,200 titles. He joins Ben Johnston and Katie Knight.
It wasn’t lost on him.
“Pretty incredible,” said Janke, who is headed to run at Washington State University. “Not many guys have gotten to achieve it before. It’s pretty crazy. It’s kind of been a dream come true. I’ve had years and years and years dreaming about this. It’s a little sad it’s my last race.”
Janke was just .74 off the classification record.
“I don’t think it was twice as strong,” Janke said of the wind compared to what it was Thursday, “but you have it twice as often (around the track). It was killer just trying to keep the pace because it’s kind of like running through sand. You feel like you’re getting less ground and you have to work way harder to keep your pace. I could definitely feel it especially the last couple of laps. I just had to make the best of it because everybody had to deal with it too.”
Janke knew he was on a personal-best pace. He just had to stay focused.
“There were definitely a couple moments where I thought ‘Oh, man, I’m tired,’ ” he said. “With 300 to go I thought ‘Now is the time to go.’ There was no reason to leave anything in the gas tank. It was really, really hard to kick on the homestretch. It took guts and it was hard but totally worth it.”
It was a golden day for Greater Spokane League athletes.
The Rogers foursome of Khalil Winfrey, Sheldon Teasley, Eli Richardson and JJ Curry captured the title in the 400 relay, winning in 43.01 – a season best by half a second.
“I just wanted to run one last race with these guys,” Teasley said. “I was out to end their season with a win.”
Said Winfrey: “We wanted to be top three going into finals and ended up winning the whole thing.”
Winfrey took the baton trailing by 5 meters.
“Anytime I see somebody ahead of me it just makes me go faster,” Winfrey said. “I saw them slowly coming back (like reverse video). I saw the finish line and threw up No. 1 (right finger). It’s always been a dream to be a state champ.”
Curry was overjoyed.
“All I’ve got to say is I won the state championship with these guys. I wouldn’t want to win it without these guys.”
Shadle Park junior Jakobe Ford made a splash in his first trip to state.
Ford captured the high jump with a classification record vault of 7-1, breaking the previous mark (7- 1/4) set in 1979.
He took second on Friday in the triple jump.
Ford entered the high jump at 6-4 and made it and attempts at 6-6, 6-8 and 7-1 on first attempts to wrap up the title.
He took three tries at 7-3 but missed.
“It feels good because it was such an old record, about 37 years old,” Ford said. “It feels really good.”
Ford wants to return and defend his title next year and reach 7-5.
Mt. Spokane’s boys took third with 36.5 points. Lincoln won the title (45.66).
Other GSL placers were: Winfrey, second in the 100 (11.26) and fifth in the 200 (22.55); Curry, fourth in the 400 (49.84); Micaela Kostecka of Mt. Spokane, fifth in the 3,200 (11:02.31); Delaney Warren of Mt. Spokane, third in the discus (123-5).
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