PASCO – The high school track and field season has barely reached the halfway point this spring, but some athletes are starting to find their stride, whether it be running or throwing.
Such was the case Saturday for some Spokane-area athletes at the 57th running of the Pasco Invite at Edgar Brown Stadium, where seven Inland Empire athletes won event titles.
Like Anna Rodgers, a senior at Lewis and Clark, who hit the board right on the mark in her second jump of the finals for a leap of 18 feet, 10 1/2 inches to win the girls long jump title.
“It’s not one of the best (marks) I’ve had, but so far it’s the best this year,” said Rodgers, who said she’d be making a decision in the next few weeks about where she’d be going to college. “My coaches were telling me before the finals to bring the power and aggression.”
Rodgers’ mark was well ahead of Tahoma’s Alisha Wilson, the runner-up who had an 18-4 1/2.
“We’ve always gone back and forth against each other,” Rodgers said of Wilson.
Rodgers had the best day for Spokane girls, also placing third in the 100-meter run, and anchoring the second-place Tigers’ 4x100 relay team.
Throw in Katie Thronson’s runaway win in the girls Elite Mile – and Maya Lebar’s second-place finish in the 200 – and the Tigers girls had a great day, placing third in the team standings 46 points. Tahoma finished first with 66 points.
Thronson’s win in the Elite Mile was a domination from the start. The senior led the LC girls cross country team to the State 4A title in Pasco last November by running away with the individual title.
On Saturday, she waited a lap before sprinting away from the field again.
“On the second lap, I felt the pace was going down,” Thronson said. “I decided to pick up that pace.”
Two weeks ago, Thronson – who is headed to Tennessee to run this fall – ran at the Arcadia Invitational in California.
“The first 800 meters there was 32.30 (seconds),” she said. “So I picked up the pace. At that point, you just turn your brain off and go into a cadence.”
Thronson finished the all-star race in 4:58.08, well ahead of runner-up Robyn Reeder of Capital, who had a 5:05.70 time.
Pullman’s Mayyi Mahama also won a title on the girls side, winning the shot put with a mark of 40 feet, 3 3/4 inches. She led an Inland Empire sweep of the top three places – Central Valley’s Samara Nelson was second at 39-8 1/2, and North Central’s Hailey Leeking placed third at 39-1 1/4.
“I was concerned with Samara and Emily Hernandez of Lake City,” Mahama said. “I was seeded sixth going into this. I’ve shown a gradual rise in my marks. I had a 40- 1/2 at Arcadia. But honestly, I feel I can do better.”
So does Zach Annanie.
The senior from Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) launched the javelin 203-1 on the final throw in the finals to win his event on the boys side.
“I got more speed on that last throw,” Annanie said. “I try to stay relaxed. I crossed over 200 two meets ago and did it again last week.”
“Mostly get more speed into my crossover steps, and then keep my upper body relaxed.”
Coeur d’Alene junior Nate Burch kept his lower body relaxed just enough in the second half of his race to win the boys 110 high hurdles.
Burch was in the middle of the pack for the first half of the race.
“I’m usually slower early in the race,” Burch said. “But I have long strides that makes up ground in between hurdles. I did see Zach to my right, though.”
Zach is Zach Meyer of Rocky Mountain, who beat Burch in the Idaho state finals last year.
This time, Burch got the win. He finished in 14.66.
“We have a little rivalry going,” Burch said. “Today I PR’d first in the prelims, then again in the finals. I’ve been working hard this past week.”
So has Burch’s Vikings teammate Matt Ward.
Ward won the boys discus title with a throw of 164-9, easily a PR for him.
“Maybe it’s the warm weather down here,” Ward said. “It’s still rainy and gross at home.”
Ward said he hopes to catch former teammate Grady Leonard – last year’s co-Male Athlete of the Meet – by reaching Leonard’s discus record of 188 feet.
“Last year with Grady, the rest of us had a competition for second,” Ward said.
The final winner was Central Valley’s Gabe Romney, who fought off pushes by Joey Tolman of Rocky Mountain and Joey Perez of Lewiston to win the boys 3,200.
“I was going to go out and give my all no matter what,” Romney said. “I knew that last lap was gonna be hard.”
He was right. Tolman and Perez, riding on Romney’s shoulder, made a hard charge with half a lap to go. But Romney went with them and kept the lead.
Romney, who took the lead 300 yards into the race, now had 300 yards to keep first place.
“I knew those two guys had better kicks than I do,” Romney said. “When I got to 200 yards out, I thought, ‘I can do 200 meters easily.’ ”
And he did, finishing in 9:18.61 for the win.
Still, there is still a long ways to go to Memorial Day weekend and the state championships. There is still work to be done.
“I’m on schedule right now,” Rodgers said. “But I still expect I have some things to work on.”
Shadle Park’s Tony Pizzillo had a good day, picking up seconds in the 100 and 200, and a third in the 400. … Mt. Spokane’s Jacob White had second-place finishes in the long jump and triple jump. … Rocky Mountain, from the Boise area, won the boys team title with 55 points. The Mead boys were tied for fifth with 26. … Kennewick’s Johan Correa was named the Male Athlete of the Meet. He won the Elite Mile and the 800. His time of 4:11.04 was the fastest mile time in the nation to this point. … Tahoma’s Aliya Wilson won the 100, 200 and ran a leg of the winning 4x100 relay to be named the Female Athlete of the Meet for the second straight year.