When her assistant coach’s night-before math started adding up to a state championship, Jane Swiatek did everything but plug her ears.
“I’m not the type who lets myself think about that,” she said. “But I hope for the best.”
As it turned out, that’s exactly what Kyle McCrea and his Wellpinit teammates delivered.
McCrea’s victories in the 100 and 200 meters and a pair of relay wins – one in meet-record time – propelled the Redskins to the school’s first team title in any sport Saturday as the State 1A/2B/1B track and field championships concluded at Eastern Washington University.
The Redskins won the 1B boys title over Republic by a 62-44.5 count, reversing the order of their finish at the District 7 meet. That’s just one of the reasons Swiatek, an English teacher at Wellpinit for the past 16 years and head track coach for a decade, said she “never saw this coming.”
Her athletes, however, dared to dream.
“We knew we had a good shot at it,” said McCrea, a one-time baseball player who turned to track last season. “We had the best times coming in and just had to run the way we knew we could.”
McCrea got the day started in the 100, overcoming a slow start to pull ahead 60 meters into the race. The record relay followed, a 45.10-second run in the 4x100 that knocked .27 off the standard set in the first 1B meet in 2007. The Redskins also won the 4x400 wire-to-wire, with McCrea leading off and A.J. Kieffer anchoring.
They had come to Swiatek and asked on to the long relay a couple of weeks ago, which left her torn as it meant leaving senior Terrance Gallaher off.
“He’s been on the team or an alternate for all four years and he’s my hardest worker,” she said. “It was hard for me to ask him, but he said, ‘They’re faster than me – they should be on it.’ That kind of speaks to the kind of kids we have.”
With five athletes scoring in nine events, Wellpinit’s effort was a nice balance to a number of strong individual performances that marked the 1B meet.
Foremost among those was Macen McLean, the lone state competitor from Mansfield’s eight-person team – and the record-breaking sensation of the weekend.
The junior has never failed to win the high, long or triple jumps in his state visits, and this time he upped the 1B record in all three – though there were a couple of hiccups.
He added the 300-meter hurdles to his repertoire this year at the urging of new coach John Cassleman, who made the intermediates his specialty at Pullman High School and Washington State. On Saturday, however, that interrupted his high-jumping – he had just won the event at a record 6 feet, 4 inches when he was called to the track. He wound up pushing Wishkah Valley’s Keigan Gardner to a state record of 40.81 in finishing second, and though he looked spent he returned to the high jump apron to push the record twice more, to 6-5 and then 6-7.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘You can do it – it’s not that high,’ ” he said.
His tank truly looked to be on “E” for the long jump, which started with two fouls and a 15-foot bailout that was enough to get him to final. But a 21-9 leap on his final attempt got him his third record, and sixth in three years.
“I’m just making my way up there,” he said, “trying to break my records every single year.”
Valley Christian’s Grant Marchant didn’t set any records, but he did sweep the distance events, adding titles in the 800 and 3,200 to his 1,600 win on Friday.
Multiple winners dominated the 2B meet. James Thompkins of Waitsburg-Prescott was a blur in winning all three sprints and anchoring the winning short relay. Onalaska’s Stephen Bottoms duplicated Marchant’s triple. And LaConner’s Jamall James won both hurdles and both horizontal jumps.
Yet none of their teams prevailed. In a terrific team competition that saw five lead changes on the last day, Asotin didn’t reach the top until the final event, winning the 4x400 relay for a 64-58 edge on James’ Braves.
Hoquiam defended its 1A championship by a healthy margin over Charles Wright behind the sprinting of 100 and 200 champ Nate Hoiness.