The Mead boys had no difficulty defending their 4A Regional track championship Saturday afternoon at Spokane Falls Community College.
The challenge will be contending for a trophy next week at state.
The Panthers qualified most of the individuals they expected and finished with 140 points. Ferris took second (88.33) and Central Valley third (86.5).
Richland’s girls earned a team title with 149.67 points and CV captured second (113.83).
The top two finishers in each event move on to state, which begins a three-day run Thursday at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
When Gonzaga Prep junior Frank Hoerner went to bed Friday night, he found an inspirational note on his pillow. It was left by his father, Paul.
“He told me to just believe in myself,” Hoerner said. “It was a nice surprise.”
Hoerner took the inspiration to heart, knocking off favored Daniel Schofield of Mead for the first time in the 800 meters. Hoerner, who posted a time of 1 minute, 55.21 seconds, had finished behind Schofield five times in the past two seasons. Schofield took second, .34 behind Hoerner.
“My plan was to stick on him to see how close I could make it,” Hoerner said. “In the past he’s been able to outsprint me. I just dug deep today and got him.”
Hoerner has a simple goal for state.
“I want to get into the finals and try to surprise as many people as I can,” Hoerner said.
CV sophomore Parker Bowden broke the 15-second barrier in the 110-meter high hurdles, winning in 14.99 and breaking his previous best by .06.
“It’s easier to run faster when you’re running with fast guys,” Bowden said. “They really pushed me.”
Davian Barlow of Mead didn’t post as fast a time in the 100 as he did a week ago, but the most important thing to him is he won (11.08), two-hundreths of a second ahead of Christian Young of Pasco.
“I just tried to run my own race and stay focused,” Barlow said.
A few raindrops fell during the 100 final.
“Our motto is ‘No rain in my lane’,” Barlow said.
Andrew Gardner of Mead had no problem winning the 1,600 as he finished in a time of 4:12.02.
Gardner will be out to defend state titles in both distance races. He has qualified for state in both races each of his four years.
“My job is to control the races and race smart,” Gardner said of state.
Luke Hilmes of Mead threw a season-best 185 feet, 9 inches to win the javelin and advance to state for the first time. He placed sixth at regional last year.
“I’ve been struggling with my full approach so I did a shorter approach and slowed it down,” Hilmes said. “I’m going to work on a full approach next week but keep it slow.”
Behind anchor Adam Chamberlain, Grayson Sykes, Anthony Brines and Miguel Gonzalez, CV captured the 1,600 relay (3:24.08).
Damon Unland of Ferris won the shot put (53-¾), Max Sykes of CV took the high jump (6-2) and Isaiah Troutt of Ferris won the triple jump (45-9½).
In the girls competition, Hannah Hudson of Lewis and Clark soared a season-best 36-8¾ to win the triple jump.
“It was such a good day,” Hudson said. “I warmed up well and came out hot.”
Hudson wants to wipe away her state experience from a year ago next week.
“I did awful,” Hudson said. “I hope to get on the (awards) podium.”
CV freshman Briegen Best, whose previous running experience before this spring came during soccer, continued to impress. She won the 1,600 in a personal-best 5:05.02 and took second in the 800.
“I really have no clue,” Best said looking ahead to state. “I’m just excited to be there.”
LC was awarded first in the 800 relay after Walla Walla was disqualified when a runner took the baton 3 feet before the exchange zone. That allowed CV, which placed third, to earn a state berth.
Vanessa Santorsola of G-Prep won the 100 hurdles in a season-best 15.91 and took second in the 300 hurdles (47.16), also a personal best.