The fact that Blasé Neumann won the 4A pole vault Friday was secondary to the fact his season teetered on the brink with a final jump at a lower height.
The Mead senior prevailed with a vault of 14 feet, 6 inches. But he had to clear 14-0 on his third and final attempt to even finish in the top two and qualify for state.
“To begin with, I was tense and tight and stressed,” Neumann said. “Once it was my third attempt I had to do it or I was out. So I relaxed and cleared it.”
Neumann was so relaxed, in fact, that he made 14-6 on his first try for the winning margin.
It was a highly successful first day for Greater Spokane League athletes at the 4A and 3A Regional track meet at Spokane Falls Community College.
Neumann was part of a 1-3-4-5 finish in the pole vault that propelled Mead to 50.5 points and a sizable lead over Richland (27) and Walla Walla (26.5).
Action resumes in the field events this morning at 10:30, followed 30 minutes later by the majority of finals in races.
4A: Damon Unland of Ferris wasn’t back to his old self, but the Saxon was definitely feeling much better.
Nagged the last month by a groin injury, Unland captured the title in the discus (176-1). He fouled on his final three attempts.
“I was pretty sure they were all in the 180s,” Unland said. “I wasn’t finishing my throws. Yesterday was the first day I could throw hard again. It’s all about timing now. I’ll work on that next week.”
For a third straight week, Mead throws standout Courtney Hutchinson broke a record.
Hutchinson threw the shot put 46-11½, eclipsing the regional record by 6 inches.
“I know a big throw is still there,” Hutchinson said. “I just didn’t have enough push at the end.”
Sophomore Jack Bamis of Gonzaga Prep, who moved to Spokane from Spain last summer, won the long jump (22-4). The winning jump came on his first attempt. He scratched on several other attempts.
“My scratches were 23 or better definitely,” he said.
Mariah Cunningham of Central Valley took first in the long jump (17-11½), second in the high jump (5-4) and anchored a 400-meter relay team (49.62) that took second behind Richland.
But later in the meet, Richland was disqualified when a runner on the relay scratched out of the 200. By rule, she had to be disqualified in her other events and Richland was docked points for any other events she competed. That moved CV to first in the 400 relay.
Andrew Gardner of Mead and Sumner Goodwin of Lewis and Clark cruised to a 1-2 finish in the 3,200. They both seemed to save some energy for a showdown in the 1,600 today.
The Mead boys 400 relay finished third in a season-best 42.90 behind Walla Walla (42.37) and Lewis and Clark (42.70), failing to qualify for state.
LC’s Coleton Fitzgerald, Nigel King, Deandre Williams and Rashad Hill also recorded a season best.
3A: This time a year ago, Sabrina Keys of North Central was having difficulty cracking 30 feet in the shot.
Keys fell just short of a season best but won with a put of 41-5¾.
“Both of my coaches have really pushed me hard this year,” Keys, a junior, said. “I really dedicated myself. I had season bests in every meet but three.”
Keys is ranked second in the state in 3A.
“I want to win state and I’m pretty sure I can,” Keys said.
The NC boys 400 relay cruised to victory (43.04).
And just to think a little over two weeks ago the foursome of Quinn Zerba, Jake Hoffman, Isaac Wicks and David Blue were poised to scrap the event because they were seeing expected improvement.
“I just kept my head focused and in front of me and didn’t worry about what else was going on,” Zerba, the anchor, said.
Tierra White of Rogers tied for first with Andrea Stapleton of Kamiakin in the high jump. Both cleared 5-4. White’s season best was 5-2 going into the competition and she twice bested that before missing three times at 5-6.
Daniel Martin of University won the pole vault (13-0).
Sophomore Tanner Anderson of NC won the 3,200, improving his personal best by one-hundredth of a second (9:01.79).
Katie Knight of NC took a measurably slow approach to the 3,200 because she wanted to conserve energy for a showdown in the 1,600 today. She won easily (11:17.57).
The top four girls 400 relay teams qualified as Mt. Spokane and Shadle Park, which finished third and fourth, respectively, each beat the 49.45 minimum qualifying standard.