It was a bittersweet day for the North Central boys and girls track teams Saturday afternoon as the 3A Regional track meet concluded at Spokane Falls Community College.
The top two in each event advance to state, which begins a three-day run Thursday at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
There was little margin for error – or coming up tenths of a second short.
NC sophomore Tanner Anderson finished third in the 1,600 meters, falling .10 of a second short of meeting the state minimum qualifying time.
The NC girls 1,600 relay also took third, eclipsing the 4-minute mark while breaking a school record. But they, too, just missed out on a state berth.
That summed up the bitter. There were plenty of sweet moments, though.
The NC boys captured a regional championship, finishing with 101 points. Hanford was second (89.40) and University third (87.20).
The Kamiakin girls, the 2012 state champions, lapped the field with 222 points. Southridge was a distant second (106) and Shadle Park third (73).
For the NC boys, it doesn’t get much better than Keith Williams. The senior won the 1,600 in a state-leading time of 4 minutes, 9.36 seconds.
Williams and Mt. Spokane sophomore John Dressel, who took second (4:13.33), set a fast pace for the first three laps. And Williams’ teammate, Anderson, was in the battle for the two state berths before Williams pulled away in the final 100 meters and Dressel made sure he secured second.
Chatter around the finish line was about how the Williams-Dressel showdown was likely a preview for the state final.
“On the first lap I came through faster than I usually do,” Williams said. “I was at 62 seconds and I slowed a little on the second lap. Then in the middle of the third I started pushing it.”
Williams finished second-to-last at state in the 1,600 a year ago.
“I feel a lot better this year,” he said.
Williams turned the first lap in the 800 in fourth, but he stayed patient and caught Daniel Brunner of University with 100 meters to go to finish in 1:53.58, four-hundredths of a second behind his personal best and .38 ahead of Brunner, who took nearly 2 seconds off his previous best.
U-Hi senior Austin Upmeyer won the 200 (22.36) and 400 (48.90), cracking the 49-second barrier for the first time this season. And he anchored the winning 1,600 relay (3:22.20), running a strong leg as he used his closing speed to zoom past Williams.
Upmeyer teamed with Brunner, Adrian Bonner and Ben Hutchens and they combined to shave more than 3 seconds off their previous best posted last week at district.
The Titans believe they can go lower at state.
“The hay is in the barn, we’ve sharpened the tools and we’re ready to perform,” Brunner said.
Three GSL boys qualified in the high jump as defending state champ Eddie Gonzalez, Carson Murray of Rogers and Cole Jensen of Shadle Park each matched the 6-foot-5 qualifying standard. Gonzalez won with a jump of 6-7.
Murray went on to win the triple jump (44-9½). He bypassed his three jumps in the finals after hitting the winning mark in the prelims. With ice bags taped around his shins, Murray talked about challenging for two state titles next week.
Carlos Riojas of Mt. Spokane won the javelin with a throw of 174-4.
“My first throw was my best,” said Riojas, who is chasing an early-season-best throw of 188-1.
He’s been ranked second in the state most of the season.
“It would be amazing if I got second,” Riojas said. “It’s going to be competitive and fun.”
Brandon Gleese of Shadle Park captured the long jump with a leap of 21-4¾ and Darneal Griffin of Rogers won the 100 (11.25).
In the girls competition, Katie Knight of NC and Megan Beauchene of Kamiakin waged an entertaining battle in the 1,600.
Together through three laps, Beauchene made a move with 300 meters to go. But Knight started her kick at the 150-meter mark and left Beauchene seemingly standing still as she won in a season-best time of 4:46.26.
“I think I was fresh,” Knight said. “Competing with Megan I had to work really hard. It was a good day and perfect weather.”
Knight expressed disappointment, though, with the 1,600 relay, a race she anchors.
“We broke the school record, and how the WIAA does it (for state qualifying) isn’t exactly fair,” Knight said. “But what can you do? I’m so proud of us. We ran probably the best possible race. That’s how track is sometimes.”
Knight’s teammate Deja Svastisalee, who also was on the 1,600 relay team, won the 300 hurdles (45.64), a personal best.
Mt. Spokane’s Cheyenne Konrad, Ileisa Oleson, Kelly Brown and Ashlee Pedersen combined to win the 1,600 relay in an impressive time of 3:57.55 after posting 4:00.88 at district last week.
Courtney Bray of Mt. Spokane won the pole vault (12-0) and Megan Murphy of NC won the triple jump (36-10½).