Between the weight of expectation and the bull’s-eye on the back, there’s a price that comes with defending a championship.
Uneasy lies the head, and all that.
So the rejoicing Zach Annanie and Sienna Swannack did on Friday was cut with a little relief, as both Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) athletes returned to the top of the medals podium at the State 1A track and field championships at Roos Field in Cheney.
Swannack, in fact, found the whole thing “nerve-racking.”
She won her 2016 1A high jump title over Naches Valley’s Brooke Benner on the basis of fewer misses, both clearing 5 feet, 7 inches after matching each others best jumps through most of the season.
“This year I was 4 inches higher than anybody else’s PR,” Swannack said, “but I hadn’t been jumping my best because of some injuries. And I was nervous about that.”
Nonetheless, she broke out Friday with a lifetime-best 5-8 – and her closest competition came from teammate Allie Cherrington, who topped 5-4 for second. Their 18 points helped the Eagles to a 29-16 lead over King’s after five events.
But Swannack might want to compare notes on nerve-racking with Annanie.
Last year as a junior, he won the 1A javelin title by moving up from second on his last throw with a lifetime best. Once again, he found himself trailing leader Dalton Arrand of Newport going into Friday’s final round – only to pop another best, 191-9, and repeat.
“I was feeling a little heat,” he said, “but I just wanted to hit a good mark. Winning wasn’t necessarily the No. 1 priority.”
Annanie came back with a third-place finish in the pole vault, to account for all 16 Lakeside points – the Eagles are two behind Deer Park, which got a victory from Jared Boswell and his 162-6 discus throw.
When long-time Kalama coach Bob Stewart was selling Kaelyn Shipley on turning out to throw the javelin as a freshman, she insisted he stick around to tutor her all four years.
“And if you don’t,” she bargained, “how about I get your truck?”
To hang on to his 1972 Chevy pickup, Stewart – a “hobby” coach since retiring in 1996 – had to hang on to age 84 and watch Shipley win her third state title, this time in 2B after the Chinooks moved down from 1A. Which means Shipley now owns state records in two classifications after bombing the spear out 163-6 on her first attempt – winning by 37 feet with the third-best throw in the nation this spring.
“This was his last day and it was really touching,” said Shipley, who will throw at Arizona next year. “He started the track program at Kalama 50 years ago. After it was over, we had a long hug.”
The day’s other 2B record-breaker, North Beach’s Seth Bridge, had familiar counsel, too – older brother Caleb, twice a 2B discus champ and now a college thrower at Concordia. With his help, Bridge added 5 feet to his season best with a meet-record 56-5 1/4 in the shot put – which also added 6 inches to Caleb’s school record.
“I don’t know how he felt about that,” Bridge said. “I was too busy feeling good.”
Five records fell in the smallest-school ranks, but no one could outdo Kaylee Sowle, a bubbly sophomore from Mary M. Knight south of Matlock who won the high jump and long jump with meet-record efforts.
Not bad for a girl whose school has no track and practices the high jump indoors “so the weather doesn’t ruin our pad and we don’t have to buy a new one,” she said.
And yet Sowle added a whopping 4 inches to her 1B record set as a freshman with a 5-6 clearance – and had the bar hanging on the pegs for a couple of seconds on her third try at 5-7 before falling.
The long jump was more of an adventure. Sowle hadn’t bettered her freshman best all season until Friday’s fourth-round leap of 17-4 – then bettered that with a final-round 17-10 1/4.
“One of the other girls helped me with my form – I can’t remember her name right now and I feel bad about that,” Sowle said. “I didn’t know if I could trust her, honestly – you’d think at state a girl would be all into her own type of thing. But they’re so nice here. I can’t thank her enough.”
Sowle’s 20 points gave MMK the team lead heading into Saturday’s finals, while Mount Vernon Christian boys – riding a 27-point windfall from Thursday’s 3,200 – hold a 22-point edge over Selkirk, which got a win from Zayren Bubb in a triple jump competition that saw just 4 inches separate the top four placers.