TACOMA – Katie Knight was disappointed she didn’t get to go head to head against the reigning 3A 3,200-meter state champion on the opening day of Star Track XXX Thursday evening at Mt. Tahoma High School.
That will have to wait until Saturday when the North Central junior meets Amy-Eloise Neale of Glacier Peak in the 1,600.
Knight, second a year ago to Neale in the 3,200, ran by herself in the longest distance race, winning by more than 100 meters in a time of 10 minutes, 27.49 seconds, her second-best time of the season. She won by more than 23 seconds.
Neale gave up the 3,200 for the 800 this spring.
“It’s always too bad when the other runner you’re excited to contend with isn’t in the race,” Knight said. “It was weird not to line up against her.”
Knight was heavily favored to win Thursday.
“I knew I might be a little bit by myself, but you never know,” Knight said. “So I was still as nervous before the race as if Amy-Eloise was warming up next to me. A state title is never anything to sniff at. It’s always exciting.”
Cheney junior Sanne Holland defended her title in the 2A 3,200, and she did so in record form.
Holland ran a season-best 10:48.40, eclipsing the State 2A meet record of 10:50.00 set in 2007.
“My strategy was to go out with the front group and pick it up in lap three,” Holland said. “I knew I had to get away from (runner-up Brittany Gappa of Squalicum). I wanted to have a comfortable cushion. I don’t want to say I saved energy, but I try to have enough left if I need an early kick.”
Holland was as appreciative of the field she got to run against as she was defending her title.
She expects a challenging race in the 1,600 final on Saturday.
“It’ll come down to mental toughness,” Holland said. “You have to decide you’re not tired and you’re not hurting.”
Clarkston senior Jamie Weisner earned a second state title in the javelin, capturing gold in the 2A event with a season-best throw of 146 feet, 9 inches. It’s the 10th-best mark in school history.
Her first state title came as a sophomore at 4A Walla Walla.
Because Weisner does four events from all corners of the track and field – she qualified for state in the two hurdle races and the high jump – she hadn’t been able to spend much time working on her throwing technique until recently. That explains why she improved about 11 feet the last two weeks.
“I knew I had a good throw in me; it was a matter of getting more practice and getting the timing down,” said Weisner, who is headed to Oregon State University to play basketball. “I slowed down so I could get more push off my throw. I wouldn’t say I have the best form or anything.”
Weisner said she might try throwing the javelin at OSU.
“Everybody tells me I should do it,” Weisner said.
Junior Andrew Gardner of Mead finally broke through, winning his first state title by taking the 4A 3,200 in a season-best 8:59.83. Gonzaga Prep senior Conor McCandless took third (9:03.60).
As is typical of Gardner, he maintained a fluid pace in second most of the race, finally starting his kick trailing by 10 meters with 250 to go. He took the lead with 150 remaining.
“All I wanted to do before I graduated was to win a state title,” Gardner said. “I hope this is the first of many more before I graduate.”
He ran 9:01.77 to win at regionals last week.
“It seemed like I jogged last week compared to this,” Gardner said. “It wasn’t easy, but who says state championships are easy. You’ve got to work for it.”
Shadle Park senior Nathan Weitz wasn’t as fortunate as Gardner.
Weitz did most of the heavy lifting in the 3A 3,200, leading from the start until the final 200 meters. That’s when he began to tighten up severely and Seattle Prep sophomore Joe Hardy took advantage.
Hardy broke the meet record, winning in 8:55.22. Weitz’s second-place time was 9:00.02.
“It wasn’t fun,” Weitz said. “It fell apart the last mile. I just didn’t feel it. I started tightening up quite a bit. He deserved to win. He’s a tough competitor.”
NC sophomore Kai Wilmot took third (9:01.83).
University junior Jay Alexander took third in the pole vault (14-0).