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Barranco excels; Riojas wins javelin at Star Track

TACOMA – New classification, the biggest classification, a 2-foot improvement year over year and second in the State 4A pole vault.

When cast in that light, Braden Barranco of Mead couldn’t help but smile.

He went from finishing fifth in the State 1A meet a year ago for Newport to matching his lifetime best with a vault of 15 feet, 6 inches to finish second Friday in the 4A competition during the second of three days at Star Track XXXII at Mt. Tahoma High School.

Barranco fell 2 inches shy of matching Mead’s school record.

“I can’t not be happy with second, right?” Barranco said. “It’s bittersweet I guess.”

Barranco didn’t think trying to eclipse the school record became a mental hurdle.

“I don’t think so,” Barranco said. “I just look at as another bar at another height. I think I thought past it because I was always thinking 16 (feet), 16, 16. Flem (Mead coach Mike Fleming) always told me he thought I could be a 16-footer. Him putting that confidence in me made me believe in myself. That really helped.”

Barranco thought things were going to align for him Friday. He was given 16 as his competition number. Clearing 16 became his goal after he went 15-3 early in the season to wipe away his first goal of clearing 15 feet.

“I thought it was there for me today,” he said.

Barranco missed on his first attempt at 15-6 but made it on the second try. He thought he had 15-9 on his second attempt, but said he held on to the pole too long and should have released it sooner.

He plans to vault at Eastern Washington University next year.

Carlos Riojas of Mt. Spokane fell 10 feet shy of his personal best in the 3A javelin but he stood at the top of the podium as a state champion with his 185-0 effort. He was fifth last year.

He said he had a fundamental flaw in his technique Friday – he was breaking his wrist and should have kept it locked on release.

“I’m super happy,” Riojas said. “People will come up to you and ask ‘How did you do?’ And you tell them ‘first, second or third’. It doesn’t matter how far you threw. All that mattered is I won.”

Riojas plans to continue to throw in college – either at Whitworth or Community Colleges of Spokane.

“This year shows I made it a long ways with my coaches,” Riojas said.

One would have thought Amanda Konynenbelt of Shadle Park had won the 3A long jump, not finished second, judging by her smile.

After scratching on her first jump in the prelims and going just 15 feet, 11 inches on her second, Konynenbelt jumped 16-1 and barely made finals.

On her second attempt in finals she soared 17-5, 4½ inches short of her personal best. She then checked out of the event to run in her prelim of the 100 meters. Before heading back to the long jump, her coach told her she was in second.

But when she arrived at the pit, the event had been declared over.

“(The event official) said he told me I could have taken my final jump before I left for the 100,” Konynenbelt said. “But he didn’t do a good job communicating that to me and a couple other girls.”

Regardless, Konynenbelt, who took sixth last year, was pleased with second.

She was seeded seventh among the final eight.

“I’m super happy,” she said, “but I wonder what my last jump would have been. I was ranked low going into it so I knew I had to compete today to pull it off. It was tough because of the wind gusts. I had to keep moving my mark.”

Mariah Cunningham of Central Valley took third in the 4A long jump (17-10¾), an improvement by one spot from last year.

Jonah Jordan of Mead took third in the 4A discus (159-5).

CV freshman Jakobe Ford took fourth in the 4A high jump (6-6).

Isaiah Troutt of Ferris took fourth in the ultra-tough 4A triple jump (45-6). The winning jump was 49-2.