TACOMA – Despite everything the North Central distance corps has been part of, Andrew Kimpel’s resume was incomplete.
Two State 3A cross country team titles, a state track team title with expectations of another this weekend, and, of course, that national championship the Indians picked up last fall, were nice, but …
“I’ve been so close three times, getting the silver,” Kimpel said. “This is so gratifying, getting an individual title.”
Kimpel’s wire-to-wire victory in the 3,200 meters was the highlight performance for area athletes Thursday evening on the first of three days of the combined State 4A/3A/2A meet at Mt. Tahoma High School.
It wasn’t just Kimpel’s performance, finishing in 9 minutes, 8.39 seconds – 4 seconds shy of his school record. As expected, teammate Ben Johnston stayed on his shoulder for a 9:11.32 to give the Indians 18 first-day points.
For good measure, Shadle Park freshman Nathan Weitz lowered his time to 9:13.06 for a 1-2-3 Greater Spokane League sweep.
There were no other local winners, although each class had just the 3,200 final on the track and one field event. Ferris’ Kjelby Oiland was second in the 4A boys shot put, and Mt. Spokane’s Rachel Domiano was third in the 3A girls discus, though both were well shy of their PRs.
“Last week gave me confidence,” Kimpel said of winning the regional 3,200 and 1,600 on consecutive days in quick times that pulled a third runner to state when there were only two automatic berths. “But this is the first race I’ve pushed from the start. I heard footsteps but they kept saying, ‘Ben,’ so I knew it was him on me.”
Johnston ran himself sick, with no thoughts of holding back for Saturday’s 1,600.
“You’ve got to go no matter what race, no matter what happens next,” he said. “I was shooting to go sub-9:10.”
Neither NC runner could back off with Weitz hot on their heels until the homestretch.
“He runs like he’s been running five years,” Kimpel said. “He’s just phenomenal. He’s got a huge heart, he’s just amazing.”
“He’s a tough little competitor,” Johnston said. “He’s going to be great.”
Weitz isn’t too bad now. His time, a half-second faster than last weekend, is the second-fastest time for a freshman in state history – and well faster than the real 2-mile his dad, Lynn, ran in 1974 when he won state for West Valley, a 9:24 that converts to a 9:18.
“My goal at the beginning of the year was 9:25,” Weitz said. “I never ran a 2-mile before Pasco.”
He ran 9:23 at the Pasco Invitational, when the old No. 2 time was 9:25.
“I was thinking I had a good chance to be third if I tucked behind Kimpel and Johnston,” Weitz said. “That’s what I did the last two weeks. I felt comfortable. I just don’t have as good of kick as they do. I’ll have to work on that.”
Weitz wouldn’t have been at state without some persistence from league coaches, who were sure he bettered the state-qualifying time of 9:13.67 at regional even though his announced time was 9:14. It wasn’t until after the competition ended that an error was discovered.
“I was happy with my time, even if I didn’t go to state,” Weitz said. “I have three more years, so I still had time. It was nice I got to go.”
Adam Thorne of Ferris was determined to win the 4A 3,200, blazing to a 61-second first lap. He opened a big lead he kept through three laps before getting caught at the midway point at 4:30 and then fading to fifth in 9:15.19, 10 seconds short of his best.
“I know (Shane) Moskowitz has a great kick,” Thorne said. “I was hoping to go out under 4:30 and maybe take the kick out of him. I was disappointed, yeah, but it’s my best placing ever at state so I’ve got to be happy with that.”
Moskowitz, a junior from Central Kitsap, ran the state’s first sub-9 this season, winning in 8:59.53.
Four throwers went beyond 140 feet in the 2A girls javelin, led by Christine Kirkwood of Othello at 151-10.