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Steeplechase will be part of 48th Mooberry Relays

The Mooberry Relays was once one of the premier weekend track meets before growing old and tired.

That just wasn’t acceptable at Rogers, so former athletic director Jim Fry and teacher Lori Shauven set about rebuilding it. The meet had pretty much been restored when construction at Rogers prompted a move to Whitworth two years ago.

Turns out that was maybe the best thing that could happen to keep the meet, which turns 48 on Saturday, fresh.

A small but enthusiastic group of hammer throwers got that event added in 2009. They threw at the community college last year before the main meet at Gonzaga Prep.

This year, with the Rogers track under construction, the meet is back at Whitworth and there is a new wrinkle: the steeplechase. The race is at 9 a.m., an hour after the hammer throw starts.

Though the top-notch Spokane distance runners are avoiding it because it can be dangerous for the inexperienced – which means the Lindgren Mile for boys and girls should be sensational – one of the biggest names in the state is headed this way.

Distance standout Amy-Eloise Neal of Glacier Peak, a multiple state champ in cross country and track, wants to run the 2,000-meter steeplechase.

“I want to run for the British Junior Team this summer and I think I can qualify in that,” she said, after getting nipped in the Golden Mile at Pasco last weekend. “I ran it last year and I enjoyed it. It’s a little different, a little more of a challenge.”

Neal, whose dad is a software engineer and moved to Washington when she was younger, faces a couple of challenges in making the team, not the least of which is finding a race with competition to push her.

“It’s a perfect spot in my season really,” she said. “The rest of the team has the weekend off. Coming off Arcadia and Pasco, I’ve been training for a good run. It’s going to be hard because I don’t think a lot of girls are going to be doing it.”

Neal became the national leader in the mile at Arcadia (4:48.01) two weeks ago when she edged Maddie Meyers of Northwest, but Meyers (4:49.02) beat her in Pasco, where Katie Knight of North Central ran the fifth-fastest time (4:53.8).

Meyers is the national leader in the steeplechase (6:44.20), running it at the Seattle Academy Relays last month. That’s around the time that Neal is shooting for.

More golden efforts

The 50th annual Pasco Invite was golden for a number of area athletes, who moved to the top of their event for the state while mining gold.

That includes Mead’s Wes Bailey, who ran the leadoff leg of the 400 relay (42.87) before winning the 300 hurdles (38.74). Newport’s Aaron Castle became the state’s first 60-foot shot putter this year (60-4½) and Mead’s Baylee Mires leads the girls 800 (2:13.92). Coeur d’Alene’s David Norris almost chased down North Central’s Andrew Wordell in the 800, but his runner-up finish was enough to take the Idaho lead (1:54.96). NC capped the meet by winning the 1,600 relay (3:24.28).

“Any golden celebration is great,” said John Crawford, who began coaching at Pasco in 1965 and became the meet director with Don Monson in 1974, when asked about the significance of the milestone event.

“With the caliber of athletes that we have here,” he said, getting emotional as he ticked off names past and present, “that’s the significance.”

A number of Idaho athletes have moved to the top of the state list. There’s Moscow’s Wade Schumaker in the 110 hurdles (14.84), Matt Wordell of Post Falls in the discus (158-11) and a pair of CdA girls, Kinsey Gomez in the 1,600 (5:04.89) and Morgan Struble in the 100 hurdles (14.96). … Gomez made her mark at a meet in Missoula, also winning the 3,200 to earn athlete of the meet as the Vikings won the girls title.

Last lap

Among the impressive double winners at the Udenberg Invitational were Chewelah’s Will Peters in the shot put (52-7) and discus (154-6); freshman Megan Ahrendt of girls team champion Lakeside in the 800 (2:35.58) and 1,600 (5:48.93) – more for age than time – and Cusick’s Andrea Heinen in the shot (35-5½) and discus (125-9) to go with a third in the javelin. Waitsburg won the boys title behind the distance double of sophomore Seth Deal. … Timberlake swept the Interstate Rivals meet, hosted by Freeman at Central Valley. Cooper Simpson and Rachel Ward each swept the hurdles for the winners. … The Mead boys and East Valley girls won Cheney’s Big Red meet.