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Area athletes strike gold at 50th Pasco Invite

PASCO – The 50th Pasco Invite proved gold can be mined just about anywhere in track and field.

Among the numerous highlights on the blustery, overcast Saturday at Edgar Brown Stadium, were relatively easy wins in the boys shot put and discus by a pair of Northeast A standouts.

Aaron Castle of Newport won the shot put by 3 feet with a throw of 60 feet, 4½ inches and Paul Thomas of Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) won the discus by more than 5 feet with a toss of 169-2.

“It’s cool to see smaller schools compete against big schools,” Thomas said.

Small-school athletes excelled on the girls side as well. Maddy Meyers of 1A Northwest had an impressive double with the Golden Mile (4:49.02), edging a star-studded field that included state leader Amy-Eloise Neale of Glacier Peak, and the 3,200 meters (10:18.46). Meanwhile, Christine Kirkwood of Othello was named Outstanding Female Athlete for breaking her state record for the javelin with a throw of 166-9 despite a strong crosswind.

Kentwood won the girls team title with 57 points, one ahead of West Valley-Yakima, with Mead fourth at 43.

Mead junior Wes Bailey was the standout on the boys side, winning the 300 hurdles (39.51) and the 200 (22.18) after running leadoff for the winning 400 relay (42.87). However, the Outstanding Male Athlete went to B.J. Arceneaux of Kentwood, who broke the long jump record (24-4½) and placed in the 100 and 200.

Wenatchee won the boys team title with 55 points, four better than North Central, with Mead third at 42.

Mead defended its title in the combined team race with 85 points, tying with Kentwood, for the Panthers’ seventh combined trophy.

“Any golden celebration is great,” said John Crawford, meet director since 1974. “This meet, to grow like it did, in fact it got too big and we dialed it back, with the caliber of athletes that we have here, that’s the significance.”

Boys

Bailey was sensational. “Now I’m tired,” he said, after winning the 200.

He found the team effort of the 400 relay most rewarding and 300 hurdle time a bit disappointing, but the focus was on the 200, where he faced impressive freshman Isaiah Brandt-Sims of Wenatchee, the state leader.

“I didn’t really care about the time,” Bailey said. “I just wanted to put points on the board for the team. I was looking forward to racing (Brandt-Sims) all week. I’ve been watching how fast he was going and I wanted to at least try to beat him.”

Castle started the day, securing the competition on his first throw and then breaking 60 feet on his fourth.

“I knew I was going to get it,” the 6-foot-5, 265-pound junior said. “I was a little nervous not getting it the first three throws. It felt all right. I don’t think I had everything I had into it. I haven’t had a really nice throw in a meet yet. … Most of it was right.”

The throw gives him a chance to readjust his goals.

“Early season I wanted 60 feet,” he said. “Now that I’ve done that, I’d like to be throwing close to 65 by the end of the season. But I think really I want to PR, keep going up, even if it’s just an inch.”

Thomas set the standard for the disc on his first throw as well but he needed to get better.

“I’ve been looking forward to it,” he said. “I wanted to come last year but I didn’t make it (in other events), so I went (with the team). It was nice to have the competition.”

Another small-school standout was Cheney’s Diondre Moore-Young, who took the 110 hurdles (14.78) and then placed in the 100 (eighth) and 300 hurdles (fourth).

“I knew I had a chance to win after the prelims when (Abu Kamara of Kent Meridian) only beat me by .03,” Moore-Young said. “It was the best I’ve run this year. I’m pretty happy.”

He was also pleased to beat Aric Walden of Newport, who was fourth after losing his blocks following his preliminary race.

“He’s like my rival,” Moore-Young said. “We’ve ran against each other since eighth grade. I got him eighth grade and freshman year, after that he got me so it felt good to beat him even though he’s coming off injury.”

The 2A Great Northern League had a second winner with Joe Aubert of West Valley, who won the pole vault in a jump-off with University’s Jay Alexander.

The two were tied on misses when the last four vaulters went out at 14-3. Alexander missed his fourth attempt, Aubert made it.

“You’ve got to do it or you lose,”Aubert said. “It’s just being confident in your run, you steps and if your coach says you can do it, you can do it.

“I think I had a little bit more in me. If I could have gotten that 14-3 I thought I would have at least gone 14-6, but it was a good day.”

The height had been a block after Aubert made 14-1 midway through last season.

“I’ve been working on getting over 14-3 for a while,” he said. “Mostly it was just finding the right pole. I switched poles (at 14-3). I had more adrenalin than I have at practice so it was time to get on a new pole. I came in saying I wanted 14-6 but I think in the back of your mind everybody wants to win.”

North Central won a pair of individual titles before taking the 1,600 relay (3:24.28), edging Greater Spokane League rival Mt. Spokane (3:24.60). Andrew Wordell was almost giddy after taking the 800 (1:54.32) and Vince Hamilton cruised in the 3,200 (9:09.71).

“I like to have a good time but I think it’s more about racing people,” Wordell said. “I know those guys are very talented and very fast. As long as I raced those guys I’d be happy as long as I raced well. And if I did, I knew I’d be happy with what I did.

“Coming in with the wind, I didn’t think it would be a best time,” he added. “I’ll tell you what, I raced the people I was around and I ran a very, very good time.”

Hamilton faced a depleted field because so many top runners opted for the Golden Mile, which was won by Kamiakin’s Anthony Armstrong (4:14.96) in a photo finish with Marcus Dickson of White River (4:14.97). Shadle Park’s Nathan Weitz (4:15.78) was third and Kenji Bierig of Lewis and Clark (4:16.22) fourth.

“I still had competition,” Hamilton said. “I was trying for a sub-9 but running by myself I can’t. I don’t have the motivation to do it by myself, I have to have somebody pushing me.”

Girls

There were three winners, two from Mead, sophomore Courtney Hutchinson in the shot put (40-0½) and senior Baylee Mires in the 800 (2:13.92). The other was University’s Amy Thornton in the 1,600 (5:12.42), run because the mile only allowed 16 entries.

“It’s really cool,” Hutchinson said. “Last year I didn’t do so well here (seventh) so I was kind of not looking forward to it. I just needed to get out of my funk and go do what I’m able to do. It was great to throw 40 and do what I can do.

“I hadn’t hit 40 this year so it was really nice to finally get it. I’ve been changing my form. I’m getting stronger and working hard, so it was going to come.

Mires was part of the great mile, but she faded badly to fourth (5:00.75), behind Meyers, Neale (4:49.74) and North Central’s Katie Knight (4:53.80), who was also second with a personal record in the 3,200 (10:26.67).

The same thing happened last weekend in Arcadia, Calif., when Neale and Meyers went 1-2, which weighed on Mires. She took it out on the 800 field, winning by over 6 seconds.

“I was a little (upset),” she said. “I worried about that mile all week. I need to run (for me).”