TACOMA – Mead senior Andrew Gardner completed the “Triple Crown” in impressive fashion Saturday at the State 4A track and field meet.
Gardner, who captured the state cross country championship last fall and followed it up with a title in the 1,600 meters on Thursday, appeared as if he would be challenged in the final lap of the 3,200 on the final day of Star Track XXXI at Mt. Tahoma High School.
What Skyview senior Colby Gilbert miscalculated, though, was how much gas was left in Gardner’s tank.
Gilbert surged ahead with 300 meters to go, pouring some fuel on an already amped-up Gardner.
Gardner responded with 200 to go, leaving Gilbert in his dust. Gardner finished in 8 minutes, 54.48 seconds – his first sub 9-minute 3,200 this season.
Lewis and Clark senior Sumner Goodwin finished second (8:58.07).
“I wanted to go hard the last 400,” said Gardner, who is headed to the University of Washington. “I wanted to run a sub-8:50. I would have had to run a 56- or a 57-second lap. I thought I might have that but I wanted to be safe and wait with 300 to go to push it. I picked it up a little bit there but then Colby Gilbert hammered past me. I was like ‘No, this isn’t happening.’ I had to use my foot speed to catch him. I caught him at the 200-meter mark. I knew where the finish line was. I just took off.”
And Gardner showed the most emotion he ever has at the finish line, raising his arms in victory.
“This race, I had in control the whole time,” Gardner said.
Gardner led Mead to fourth in the team standings. The Panthers finished with 32.5 points, earning a trophy for a fifth straight year. Federal Way captured the team title with 90 and Wenatchee was second with 51.
Other area medal winners Saturday: Luke Hilmes of Mead took fourth in the javelin (176-8); Frank Hoerner of Gonzaga Prep finished sixth in the 800 (1:55.47); and Jack Bamis of G-Prep was eighth in the long jump (21-2¾).
Behind state champions Tanner Anderson and David Blue, North Central finished second with 45 points – 20 behind champion Bellevue.
Anderson, a sophomore, ran a spectacular race in the 3,200 as he won in a time of 9:01.83, just ahead of Mt. Spokane sophomore John Dressel (9:02.36).
As Anderson strode to the finish line, he looked over his right shoulder with 50 meters to go and knew he had things under control.
“It means a lot,” said Anderson, who was third in state cross country last fall.
Anderson dedicated the win to junior teammate Kai Wilmot, who suffered a season-ending injury at regionals.
Blue didn’t capture his state title outright. In his mind it didn’t come the way he wanted.
The apparent winner in the 300 hurdles was disqualified for bringing his trail leg around instead of over the first two hurdles.
Blue actually finished a distant second (39.53) in the race. But he was elevated to champion after the disqualification.
“It’s really bittersweet,” Blue said. “I don’t want to win a state title this way. I understand if he has an unfair advantage, but he was so far ahead of me that that real small unfair advantage isn’t going to count for much. If we were neck and neck then sure I could see the justification in that. He was just so far ahead of me. It’s hard to find pleasure in this.”
NC coach Mark Vandine said the team’s runner-up finish was sparked by a poor performance in the 1,600-relay prelims.
NC’s relay barely qualified for the finals. The foursome of Blue, Jake Hoffman, Quinn Zerba and Keith Williams responded with a much more inspired effort Saturday as they took third.
“We only brought eight guys and we had to have a great meet,” Vandine said. “The 1,600 relay was a catalyst. That was the break we needed. If they didn’t get into the finals the best we could have finished was fourth.”
All eight Indians, who were spread out in six events, scored points.
University senior Eddie Gonzalez defended his state title in the high jump, matching his season best with a leap of 6 feet, 10 inches.
He wrapped up the title when he cleared 6-8 on his first attempt. Then he made 6-10 when he soared over on his second attempt.
Gonzalez then took three tries at 7-0.
“My jump at 6-10 would have cleared 7-foot,” Gonzalez said. “It feels good. I came in with the mindset of forgetting about everything in the past and just focusing on what I need to do today. That’s what really helped me.”
U-Hi senior Austin Upmeyer took second in the 400 (48.86). He found himself in a race for second considering speedy Oregon-bound Marcus Chambers of Foss sizzled past the field to win in 46.36.
“I was just focusing on my own race,” Upmeyer said. “I had to focus on staying smooth and rely on my training. I’m satisfied with second.”
Upmeyer took eighth last year.
Other area medal winners Saturday: Carson Murray of Rogers took third in the triple jump (44-4) and fourth in the high jump (6-6); Cole Jensen of Shadle Park finished sixth in the high jump (6-2); Keith Williams of NC placed third in the 800 (1:54.01) and Daniel Brunner of U-Hi was fifth (1:54.79); NC’s 400 relay took sixth (43.48).
Sehome won the team title with 66 points.
Deer Park was the highest-placing area team with 28 points for seventh.
Area medal winners Saturday: Daniel Amann of DP took third in the 800 (1:54.54); Cainan Holte of Colville was fourth in the discus (158-6); Calvin Berstler of Cheney took sixth in the 300 hurdles (39.62); Scott Kopczynski of East Valley took seventh in the 3,200 (9:24.86); and West Valley’s 400 relay placed fifth (43.31).