In his words, Wes Bailey said he was flat Thursday afternoon.
It had nothing to do with the weather, which had to be maddening for any spring sports athletes let alone those in track and field.
Even an underwhelming Bailey is better than no Bailey. Just ask the Mead boys team.
Bailey won the three sprints – the 100 meters (10.95 seconds), 200 (22.26) and 400 (49.72) – and ran a leg on the winning 400 relay (42.78) as the Panthers collected a fifth straight Greater Spokane League championship and 29th overall since the league formed in 1976-77.
Mead coach John Mires understood why Bailey felt flat. Mires sensed early in the week that his team was feeling the effects of high-powered invitationals on three successive weekends and the intensity of dual meets.
Mead, Lewis and Clark and Ferris all entered the final dual meet at Mead with 6-0 records. Mead (9-0) had no difficulty topping Ferris 87-58, Lewis and Clark 83-61 and North Central 118-27. LC (8-1) topped Ferris 86-59 and NC (98-41) and Ferris (7-2) handled NC (3-6) 104-40.
“I wasn’t really my best today,” Bailey said. “(Running) this week kind of drained me. I wasn’t here all this week – not mentally here. I wish I could have done better but I was flat.”
Mires had Bailey run in the 100, 400 relay and 400 – three of the meet’s earlier races – so he could get the Panthers a fast start in team points. To that end, Bailey was more than up to the task. He teamed with Evan Maack, Austin Stone and Gunnar Kayser in the 400 relay, and Kayser, the anchor, had to hold off LC’s Brennan Schon at the tape.
“I can speak for all our seniors this fourth one (title) means more than the other three because it’s our senior year and we wanted to end knowing that our class wasn’t beaten in track,” Bailey said.
Andrew Gardner felt under the weather, fighting off a cough and a headache he had had for three days. But he doubled admirably in the 1,600 (4:17.65) and 3,200 (9:27.43).
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be ready today,” Gardner said. “But three teams came into the meet undefeated and I didn’t have a choice to sit out. I just showed up and decided to give 100 percent and see what happens. I scored the points that we needed. As much as we want state, the GSL championship is a big deal for us. If we didn’t win people would think that Mead’s down a little bit. We had an all-around great achievement today.”
Mires passed the praise around.
“They get harder and harder every year,” Mires said of the league titles. “When the target is on your back it makes everybody own up and get better and better all the time. More so than winning is how much I love the seniors. The credit goes to the guys who have been fighting for us for four years.”
Other key contributors for Mead were: Daniel Schofield in the 800 (1:57.76), Sam Hilmes in the javelin (188-7) and Blasé Neumann in the pole vault (14-0).