Nathan Weitz was a runner on a mission Thursday.
The Shadle Park senior long-distance ace had the school’s coveted 3,200-meter record – 8 minutes, 55.36 seconds, set by Michael Kiter in 2001 – in his sights.
The clock near the finish line read 7:51 as he started the bell lap of the grueling eight-lap race.
Try as he might, Weitz came up a tad short, winning by nearly 19 seconds in 8:56.84 in the first day of the District 8 3A meet at Spokane Falls Community College. It’s the first time in his career that he’s broken the 9-minute mark.
For that Weitz was grateful. But the pursuit of the record will have to wait until regionals next weekend in Richland.
“I honestly didn’t know if I was going to run that hard,” Weitz said. “I felt like I was going to have heartburn the whole race.”
Weitz’s well-paced stride was the same through all but the final 300 meters. It was at that point it appeared he started to seize up.
He had no difficulty topping runner-up Kai Wilmot, a sophomore from North Central, who entered the race with the top time in all classifications in the state (8:57.66). Wilmot stayed with Weitz for about a mile before falling back and finishing in 9:15.61.
The top eight finishers in individual events and top four relays in 4A events advance to regionals while the top four finishers in individual and top two relays advance in 3A. The meet concludes this afternoon beginning at 5.
Team points are kept, but the emphasis at district is to qualify the most possible athletes to re gionals. The bulk of the finals were in field events, with preliminaries in most of the running events.
4A: Mead’s and Lewis and Clark’s boys had a pair of winners.
Blasé Neumann of Mead captured the pole vault (14 feet, 6 inches), falling short on three attempts at 15-1 and the school’s junior class record.
The 400 relay foursome of Evan Maack, Austin Stone, Wes Bailey and Gunnar Kayser lowered their school record and season best, winning in 42.33 and breaking the district record by one one-hundredth of a second. The record was set in 1977 by Mead.
The Panthers weren’t perfect, but it was easily their best race of the season.
“It’s the first time we’ve had decent handoffs all the way around,” Maack said.
LC’s winners were Josh Syrotchen in the discus (174-2) and Brennan Schon in the long jump (21-8).
Syrotchen’s final four throws exceeded 170. He broke out a new discus because the one he’s been using isn’t supposed to fly more than 150 feet. He tried the new implement once, but went back to old faithful on his top throw. He plans to break in the new plate, which is rated to go about 200 feet, next week.
“I expect real big throws out of him next week,” LC assistant coach Mike Pfeifer said.
It was a year ago at regionals that Syrotchen entered ranked No. 1 in the state but failed to qualify for state when all three of his throws in the preliminaries were out of bounds.
“Today was good but it wasn’t what I wanted,” said Syrotchen, who has signed to play football and throw the discus at Harding University in Arkansas.
Conor McCandless of Gonzaga Prep won the 3,200 (9:30.00).
For the girls, Central Valley got off to a good start.
The Bears’ Mariah Cunningham was a double winner, taking the high jump (5-2) and long jump (16-4) while teammates Alexandria Moore and Roni Dringle won the 3,200 (11:31.38) and javelin (126-8), respectively.
Mead took the 400 relay (49.78) and the Panthers’ Courtney Hutchinson captured the shot put (43-9).
3A: Weitz knew he hadn’t broken the record as he tried to regain his breath, bent over with his hands on his knees. But a teammate rushed up and told him to look at the scoreboard, which displayed his winning time.
“My coach wanted me to hit 67s (67-second laps) but I was shy of that by 2 seconds through a mile,” said Weitz, who obliterated the district 3A record (9:23.26). “I tried not to let the negative thoughts creep into my head.”
Weitz comes back tonight in the 1,600.
The Shadle boys 400 relay of Josh Bender, Josh Munter, Doran Porter and Drew Before won in 43.70, a season best by nearly 2 seconds.
It’s the first time the foursome ran the relay together. They briefly practiced handoffs on Wednesday.
University pulled off two wins in field events. Jay Alexander won the pole vault (14-0) and Zach Bruce took the long jump (21-8½).
Levi Brosmore of Mt. Spokane won the discus (156-7).
For the girls, Katie Knight of NC, one of the top runners in the nation, crushed the 3,200 field, winning in 10:38.29 – finishing 1:03.44 ahead of the runner-up.
Mt. Spokane captured the 400 relay (50.62), Amanda Konynenbelt of Shadle won the long jump (16-8¼), Tanisha Whitsett of U-Hi took the shot (37-7), Malesha Locket of Shadle won the high jump (4-8) and Gianna Damiano of Mt. Spokane was victorious in the javelin (128-8).
District 7 2A: Dan Amann of Deer Park edged teammate Dayde Collins by .12 in the 3,200 in first-day action at West Valley.
Amann’s time was 9:40.26. The Stags posted 43 points and Pullman was next (40.5).
In the girls, Darbi Dobson helped East Valley to a first-day lead. Dobson won the discus (121-11½) as the Knights took the top three places.
EV tallied 51 points and is followed by favored Cheney (43).
Ana Guo of Pullman won the long jump with an impressive vault of 18-1½.
5A Region I: Kara Story and Cody Curtis of Coeur d’Alene were winners in the girls and boys 3,200 finals in the meet at Lewiston.
Story won in a time of 11:39.69, edging teammate Josie Brown by a second, while Curtis prevailed in 9:32.51.
Kierstie Shellman and Brittany Pope of Lake City staked the Timberwolves to a first-day lead in the girls. Shellman won the pole vault (11-7) and Pope took the high jump (5-2).
Zack Linscott of LC won the boys high jump (6-6). Lewiston had a narrow lead over CdA.
4A Region I: Jordan Ward of Lakeland took the girls high jump (5-5), but Sandpoint had a 17-point lead over Lakeland.
Nikole Alamillo led Sandpoint with a win inn the shot (33-8).
In the boys, Moscow got out quick. Wade Schumaker lead the Bears, winning the high jump (6-6½).