TACOMA – Mt. Spokane senior Dillon Lionello didn’t win the State 3A shot put championship by an inch Friday, but it probably felt like he did.
Lionello fouled his first two throws and had to get a legal throw in to make the finals. As he launched the steel ball, it appeared to the naked eye to kick up the tiniest chalk.
It’s ruled out of bounds if the ball hits chalk. He nervously pointed to where he thought it hit kicked up some dust, and the official nearby ruled it inside the line.
Lionello, ranked No. 1 in the state, took a deep breath, knowing he had skirted disaster at Mount Tahoma High School.
Just as Lionello stepped into the ring for his first throw in the finals, he let out a grunt. As he tucked the ball tightly between his neck and chin, he let out another grunt. He spun and let go what would prove to be the winning throw – 59 feet, 11 1/4 inches.
He fouled his final two throws, the last landing well beyond the 60-foot chalked line at about 62 feet.
Then he had to wait for four competitors to take their final throws.
Kneeling down on one knee as the final athlete threw, Lionello breathed a sigh of relief when it landed well short of his winning mark.
It’s said all it takes is one. In Lionello’s case, he got the minimum – one to get to the finals and the winner.
“I’ve gone through that exact moment in practice,” Lionello said of needing to get a legal throw to advance. “I just got in the ring and thought to myself, ‘I’ve this done this a thousand times, I just need to relax and do it.’ ”
It’s one thing to do it in practice, by himself. But at state with an assembled crowd of about 100 and pressure? Well, that is a different thing.
“My heart dropped. I thought it hit the line,” Lionello said.
Lionello had new life. He said he talked with his coach, Pat Kostecka.
“I just had to trust myself and trust him,” Lionello said. “The goal was a state title. If I got a (personal best), it would be a bonus.”
His final throw would have exceeded his personal best (61-2 1/4).
Lionello will try to add a second title in the discus on Saturday. He’s seeded first.
His win added more points to a growing total for Mt. Spokane, which is well in front in the team race.
“It’s just a full team effort,” Lionello said. “Everybody has the same goal in mind.”
“It’s been an unbelievable start,” Kostecka said.
Jakobe Ford defended his state title in the high jump in spectacular fashion, breaking the meet record he set last year (7-1) by clearing 7-2 1/2 on his third attempt.
Ford cleared the bar after clipping twice on the first two attempts, and jumped up off the mat pumping his fist.
Ford waited to enter the competition at 6-4. He promptly and easily cleared five straight 1-inch increases, and he locked up the title when he sailed over the bar at 6-9.
Trying to conserve what energy he had left, Ford went immediately to 7-2 1/2. After he cleared it, he had the bar set at 7-4.
His best attempt was on his first try. On the second, a spike grabbed as he planted to jump. On the third try he never got off the ground.
“I’m happy with (7-2 1/2) because that broke my record,” Ford said.
He cleared 7-3, a season best, last week at the bi-district meet.
“My legs were getting tired,” Ford said. “I’ve been preparing the whole season for this so it feels like it was supposed to be.”
Ford will seek a third title Saturday in the triple jump.
“Two down, one to go,” Ford said.
Mt. Spokane takes a 37-point lead into Saturday. The Wildcats have 57 and Shadle Park – courtesy of Ford – has 20.
Olivia Prewitt of Mt. Spokane went from seventh in the javelin a year ago to state champion. She threw 131-4. She improved 12 feet this season.
“Honestly, I still don’t feel like a state champion,” Prewitt said. “It’s surreal. I thought I’d do better this year, but I had no idea I’d be a state champion.”
Local journalism is essential.
The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.