Shadle Park junior Nathan Weitz was pretty much a lock to finish in the top four of the District 8 3A track meet Thursday night and advance to regional next week, so there was no real reason to stomp on the accelerator and blow out the pipes.
But after running the 3,200 meters in 9 minutes, 13 seconds too many times to count for the past two years, he had a need for speed.
So he set a district record, finishing in 9:07.55.
“I was shooting for getting past my PR for two years now, 9:13,” Weitz said. “I just wanted to get past that mental road block so that now I can shoot for getting under 9.”
But that wasn’t the fast run at Spokane Falls Community College. In the 4A race, where eight qualify so the need to be in a hurry for the top-end runners is even less, Mead sophomore Andrew Gardner went 9:04.70.
“Next week’s placing, today is running fast,” Gardner said. “I just wanted to check where I was at. I’m in a good spot. I was planning to go 4:25, 4:30 for the first mile and see what I’ve got.”
Among other highlights: Celena Ward of North Central eclipsed a 27-year district record in the 3A javelin with a throw of 143 feet, 5 inches after her surprising win in the shot put; NC’s Katie Knight ran 10:32.23 in the 3,200 for the meet record; and Mead’s boys 400-relay team took over the state lead at 42.47.
The meet continues today.
Ward bumped Patty Patterson of East Valley out of the record book by all of 3 inches, which wasn’t her goal at all.
“I was hoping for 140. I haven’t PR’d all season,” she said. “I keep throwing off to the left side instead of the right. My technique really wasn’t flowing right.”
Her best this year (135-9) was about 3 feet shy of her best until she uncorked one that put her third in the state.
“I thought, ‘Wow, it’s kind of in the air for a long time and it’s not going down,’ ” she said. “I just really wanted it.”
That desire didn’t go away after her 2-foot PR of 33-9½ in the shot.
Her teammate, Brittney Konynenbelt, showed the same kind of determination.
She was leading the long jump, as expected, when an upstart from Mt. Spokane, sixth-seeded Courtney Bray, edged past her in the sixth round.
“It just came out of nowhere,” Bray said of her 16-9½ leap, a 16-inch PR. “I knew I had to move up at the end. I tried to give it my all. This is a new event for me.”
Bray, the top-seeded 3A pole vaulter, had no idea where she was seeded going into the long jump or if she was in for the regional going into the last jump, but afterward she had an idea that lead might not last.
“I just went in there and went after it pretty much,” she said.
Konynenbelt responded with a jump of 17-5, an inch shy of her PR from the first meet of the season.
“I knew I had to pull one off,” Konynenbelt said. “At first I was a little nervous, then I knew I had to bear down and go for it.”
Weitz had a little help from NC’s Vince Hamilton, running with him for more than six laps.
“He helped me tremendously with pace, keeping me on the right pace,” Weitz said. “I started slowing it down a little bit. I could tell he realized it, so I knew I had to pick it up.”
Gardner didn’t have any help as state cross country champion Kenji Bierig let him go midway through the race.
“It’s mentally tough to run by yourself,” said Gardner, who was within 3 seconds of the state freshman record he established at state last year after lopping 10 seconds off his season best.
There was also a little pressure on his classmate, Gunnar Kayser, the only newcomer on the Panthers’ sprint relay that was second in state last year.
“I have to carry the responsibility that Casey Monahan had last year,” Kayser said. “I can’t let them down.”
Kayser stepped into the second leg, taking the handoff from Evan Maack and passing the baton on to Mike Smith before Wes Bailey brought it home. Their 42.47 was one-hundredth of a second faster than they went at state last year.
“We did our best today, but we always know we can do a little better,” Kayser said.
Another Mead athlete, Courtney Hutchinson, threw the shot 43-8, a personal best for the sophomore who won state as a freshman. Mead junior Michaelyn Mills had a 9-foot improvement to win the javelin at 127-6. The Panthers also got a season-best 49.66 from the 400 relay team of Evie Codd, Tymen Grant, and freshmen Kylie Drynan and Malia Maack.
Central Valley’s dueling freshmen, Savannah Hoeskstra and Mariah Cunningham, went 1-2 in the long jump. Hoeskstra won by matching her PR of 17-1.
“My competition is Mariah,” she said. “She still has the PR, I’m going to get her.”
District 7 2A
At West Valley, Matt Mauro of the host Eagles added 4 inches to his season best, clearing 6-4, to win the high jump.
Cheney claimed both 1,600s, with Sanne Holland (5:12.89) and Aaron Brenton (4:28.89).
The meet, which advances three to regionals, continues today.