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Mead's Braden Barranco clears the bar at 14-5 during the 3A and 4A regional track and field meet. (Matt Gade)

Barranco advances; Anderson breaks stadium record

PASCO – It was a bittersweet day for Mead’s four boys pole vaulters as the 4A/3A regional track meet Friday at Edgar Brown Stadium.

Heavy emphasis on bitter.

Braden Barranco kept it from being a disastrous day.

For a tense couple of minutes, though, it appeared the Panthers would go 0 for 4 in their drive for state berths.

After making his third attempt at 14 feet, 5 inches – the minimum qualifying standard had he not finished in the top two – Barranco loosened up, topping his personal best by 3 inches at 15-6 to finish second.

“It’s an interesting event,” Barranco said. “You can have it one day and not have it the next. I guess that’s why we have the meets to see who’s the best that day.”

Barranco took three attempts at 15-9, an inch more than the school record. He was over on two tries but barely glanced the bar.

Richland junior Larry Still had a personal best by 8 inches, winning with 16-0.

Mead coach Mike Fleming could just shake his head and offer a weak smile afterward.

“For me the losing hurts more than the winning is satisfying – if you know what I mean,” Fleming said of not advancing at least one more to state, which is next Thursday through Saturday at Mt. Tahoma High in Tacoma.

The top two individuals and top two relays in 4A and the top three individuals and top three relays in 3A go to state. Other state invitations can be earned by meeting minimum state qualifying times/marks.

The final day of the regional begins this morning at 10:30 with the balance of the running finals and a handful of field events.

Boys

Barranco thought he was his own worst enemy at 14-5.

“I just got in my own head,” he said. “I was well over on my first two jumps but for whatever reason I decided to do a cannonball. I have no idea why. I’ve never done it before.”

So he remembered advice Fleming has given before as he looked down the runway prior to his final attempt.

“He tells us to get inside the movement,” Barranco said. “When you do, everything happens.”

In the 3A pole vault, a pair of University Titans – Daniel Martin and Forrest Rogers – finished 1-2.

Both cleared 14-0 and had to have a jump-off to decide the winner. They both missed at 14-6 and then Martin clinched it when he cleared 14-0 again.

Defending 3,200 3A state champion Tanner Anderson of North Central was in title form in the day’s final event.

Anderson won a sizzling race, crossing the finish line in a lifetime best 8 minutes, 56.80 seconds.

He broke the regional record (9:01.79) he set last year, but, most impressively, the stadium record (8:57.1) set in 1966 by Rick Riley of Ferris.

He said all he was trying to do was under 9:06.42 – the state qualifying time. But when he approached the final 100 meters, he glanced at the stadium clock and thought he had a chance to break 9 minutes.

Anderson found a sprinter’s kick.

“I barely broke 9 minutes at Arcadia (Invitational) but this felt really good,” Anderson said.

Six runners including NC’s Kai Wilmot (third) and Justin Janke (fourth) met the minimum standard. John Dressel of Mt. Spokane took second (9:01.92).

Jonah Jordan of Mead won the 4A discus (164-2) – a personal best by seven feet.

Girls

Mariah Cunningham – who seemingly lifts Central Valley on her back from meet to meet – started with similar impact Friday.

Cunningham was involved in three firsts – long jump (18-5), high jump (5-4) and anchor leg on the 400 relay (49.07).

The leap in the long jump was a personal best by nearly 2 inches and a season best by nearly 7 inches.

Cunningham said she scratched on an attempt measured at 18-7.

The 18-5 came on her last attempt in the finals.

Now she’s primed to reach 19.

“I know I have it in me because I scratched on one earlier in the season,” she said.

Cunningham teamed with Savannah Hoekstra, Hailey Hawkins and Kelsey Turnbow in the 400 relay. It was a season best.

The only other area winner was Sabrina Keys of North Central in the shot put. She won with a throw of 44-5½.