RICHLAND – Is seven enough?
The Mead boys track team will find out next week at the State 4A track meet in Tacoma.
The Panthers qualified fewer than John Mires desired – seven plus two alternates – as Mead captured the Eastern Regional championship as the two-day meet concluded under sunny skies at Fran Rish Stadium.
Mead finished with 125 points and Wenatchee was a distant second with 87.
“The guys we’re taking are a pretty potent crew,” Mires said. “There’s no extra baggage. And we still have a number of the events covered. We’re taking quality. We’ll have to be dialed in pretty tight. There’s not a lot of wiggle room.”
Mires expects his team to challenge for the state championship.
Senior sprint sensation Wes Bailey qualified for state in four events, but he finished second to Wenatchee sophomore standout Isaiah Brandt-Sims in the 100 and 200 meters.
Bailey gave up the 300 hurdles, in which he won a state title last year, for the shortest sprint race this season. But Brandt-Sims won in 10.70 seconds and runner-up Bailey was second (11.06).
In the 200, Brandt-Sims, the defending state champ, pulled even with Bailey as they got within 50 meters of the tape. Brandt-Sims nosed ahead, finishing in 21.24. Bailey was .18 behind.
Bailey had no difficulty winning the 400 (48.67).
“I had a bad start in the 100,” Bailey said. “I was the last one out of the blocks. I tried too hard to get into my drive phase too early.”
Bailey praised Brandt-Sims for beating him in the 200.
“He’s a great runner, but I started to push myself too fast again,” Bailey said. “That caused me to break down in my form. I needed to relax.”
Bailey has plenty of motivation for state.
“Everyone is going to lose,” Bailey said. “Losing just makes us stronger.”
Bailey’s goals haven’t changed. He wants three individual state titles, wants to help the 400 relay win and help bring home a third state title in three years.
Junior Carson Murray of Rogers was a double winner Saturday, taking the triple jump (42-91/4) and high jump (6-4). He’s his school’s lone state qualifier.
“In a way I feel special, but I’d like to have some companions,” Murray said.
Murray took sixth at district in the triple jump, scratching on his first two attempts before he moved his starting mark back 5 feet just to get a legal regional-qualifying mark.
Nathan Weitz of Shadle Park admitted he stepped off the throttle in the 3,200 on Friday so he’d have some gas left to take a run at the school record in the 1,600.
He fell more than 1 second short of the school record, but won in a time of 4:08.47.
He plans to challenge for state titles in both events next week.
Keith Williams of North Central changed his strategy in the 800 after taking second the week before at district.
“I just wanted to get out in the lead and stay there,” Williams said. “(University’s Matthew) Fry got too far ahead and it was too much ground to make up last week.”
Williams won in a personal-best 1:54.39. Fry was second.
The U-Hi 1,600 relay team of Fry, Daniel Brunner, Adrian Bonner and Austin Upmeyer broke out retro uniforms and won in a season-best 3:24.52.
“We like the tradition and they make us look good,” Fry said. “When the hay is in the barn, you can’t mess with it.”
Other area winners were: Drew Before of Shadle in the 200 (22.66); Shane Concepcion of Mt. Spokane in the triple jump (43-13/4); and Shadle’s Cole Jensen in the high jump (6-5).
Hanford won the team title with 91 points and Kamiakin was second (841/2). U-Hi took third (81) and Shadle was fourth (78).