Pasco Invitational

Saturday marked the Fiftieth running of the Pasco Invitational and at day’s end this edition will be remembered for far more than simply the number of iterations.    Lucky fans were able to witness some stirring completion with down-to-the-wire finishes and performance marks, which have to be considered stellar.    This meet was far more than simply a “Golden Anniversary.”    Coming into the event we looked at the possibility that just the distance events offered and even there the meet did not disappoint.

     Being the Golden Anniversary tribute was made to the past with special runnings of the Golden Mile plus the One Hundred Yard Dash and they were something special.   The field in the Mile for young ladies saw such quality, that even California’s giant Arcadia meet of the previous week could offer no real improvement and indeed both Maddie Meyers of Northwest in Seattle & Amy-Eloise Neale of Glacier Peak in Seattle, who went 1 – 2 in California were on hand to renew their rivalry.   In California Amy ran an excellent tactical race to overhaul Meyers in the homestretch but on Washington Meyers moved into the lead early rolling through the 400M in a brisk 69.  There was little let-up during the next lap and Maddie continued to lead at the 800M mark in 2:25.    Meyer’s coach refers to the third lap as the “money lap” and Maddie ran it accordingly blazing through it in a rather stunning 62 seconds (that was her coach’s time – I had her in high 61 but whatever).  

      That pace should have cracked almost any high caliber girl but, although Neale ceded her some ground during the third lap, Amy-Eloise was not conceding anything.   Maddie was at high 3:36 at 1200 meters but in the final lap Neale was making a move.    She picked up ground on the back-stretch and then surged again coming off the final turn.   Meyers knew her rival was coming:  “I could hear everyone – go Amy you can get her” and Maddie dug in to the home-stretch.   AE was picking up ground, but Maddie was not yielding, yet both faced another rival:  a strong debilitating wind, which even the 300 Meter hurdler guys would later complain about:  “The wind hits you like a brick wall over there” (once you come off of the turn).   Like true competitors neither would give in to their rival or the wind and they both hurtled into the gale with Meyers claiming victory in a time of 4:49.02 just .72 second ahead of Neale.  Maddie had run the last lap following a brisk pace in 63 seconds yet barley held off Neale?!   I was remiss in obtaining Amy-Eloise’s pace but it must have been a hummer!   It is a real shame that both runners are in different divisions, as far as school-size, for they and fans will be cheated at State, but thank the Lord for meets like Pasco, which allow the best to face the best.

     In writing the story the author improperly left out the supporting cast, which would normally not be supporting.  Katie Knight of North Central ran a very fine time of 4:53.80, which makes her one of the top runners in America.   It is only because Maddie went out like a banshee and Amy-Eloise rode off in challenge that Katie was left behind in this race &, I would note,  just this day).   Baylee Mires ran a fine 5:00 & change and the competitor in her was upset but still it just was one of those days.   Tansey Lystad followed Baylee with a 5:02 clocking, which 99.9 % of girls’ distance runners of all ages would pay to achieve but freshman Lauren Perry of Richland followed her by less than a second.    Such was the pure quality of the field that everything had to go well to be in the chase and quality runners like Carly Wilczynski of Emerald Ridge, Rachel Atwood of Auburn Riverside, Annamarie Maag of Jesuit, Sanne Holland of Chaney and Erin Hegarty of Hanford ended up trailing but will be heard from later for sure.

        The Golden Mile for the guys had a strong field as well but no one was willing to zip out into the wind and possibly become a self-sacrifice.   Dakota Parker of F W West led through the first lap of 69, which dropped absolutely no one.   Grant Grosvenor of Henry Jackson took over the pacing duties for the next oval and led through 800M in 2:08.   Between a strong field & less than scintillating time the field was bunch and there was very little room to maneuver within the pack but Nathan Weitz, a junior from Shadle Park, finally extricated himself from the melee and began to assert himself.   He rolled through a fine split of 64, which spread out the pack just enough to allow a number of his rivals to come out of the scrum.  By the time he headed into the wind off the final turn there were at least seven runners, who had more than a reasonable chance of victory.   Notably among them was Marcus Dickson of White River, who surged down the straight and even briefly thought to himself:  “Yeah”, as if the race was his but just at the line Anthony Armstrong appeared seemingly out of nowhere.  The finish was so close that neither runner was at first sure, who had  won, but  Armstrong claimed the victory with a fine 4:14.96 to nip Dickson by one-hundredth of a second.  Nathan Weitz was right behind in a time of 4:15.78.  Kenji Bierig of Lewis and Clark ran a fine 4:16 to lead the senior contingent of Meron Simon of Federal Way & Jeff Bastian of Glacier Peak and Keith Williams, but a sophomore from North Central, earned 7th with 4:17.84. 

        In an oddity for distance running the top three runners in both the guys’ and girls’ mile were all underclassmen.    That underclassman theme continued in the boys’, when freshman Isaiah Brandt-Sims annexed the 100 Yard Dash with a time of 10.01.  He defeated senior Darian Brooks of Kennedy, who ran

 10.14 in the race.   Brooks, who led the state in the 100 Meter Dash, claimed that race with a time of 10.69 to return the favor to Sims, who followed with 10.73.    Majerae Gates of Federal Way won both the 100 Yard Dash and the 100 Meter Dash with times of 11.34 & 11.93 respectively.  Gates is a sophomore.

      The wind was such a factor in the meet it had to be accounted for by everyone in attendance, whether they were fans or athletes.    It blew away one large tent, which tumbled into the bowl, which houses the Pasco stadium.  Although a few young athletes cheered, we should note that a similar situation in Oregon on Wednesday cost a team $1000 in damages, which in this economy poses a real setback.    Not only did the pole vault pole blow off of the standard on numerous occasions but even the standard, which poses the attempted height,  crashed so often, that officials gave up using it.   The large flag almost constantly rippling off in the distance was hardly needed as a reminder, and as the girls’ prepared to contest the 3200 Meter Run a trio got together to hatch a plan.   Katie Knight & Kendra Weitz revealed later that they and Maddie Meyers agreed “we need a plan.”   With that in mind fans would watch an interesting race, which saw Maddie lead some laps, Katie on others & Kendra even others.  Each sacrificed themselves a bit to the general good of a solid time making the viewer wondering, if they were watching a chess match on the run.  Kendra led the way through the first lap with a time of 78 and was trailed by Maddie & Kendra as well as Peyton Schutte of Jesuit.   Maddie took the group to a 2:37 (800M) as the group was joined by Katie Mahoney of Richland, and then Katie took charge through a mark of 3:54.   During the fourth lap it was Kendra’s turn & she dutifully led the 1200M at 5:15 as Maddie and Katie followed in tow.   Cooperation seemed to end shortly after that as Maddie appeared to take charge, although Kendra & Katie remained in contact.  

      After five laps had elapsed the race was down to just the trio but, as often is the case in a distance run, there still was the race within a race.   Erin Hegarty of Hanford began to move with authority through the pack catching both Payton Schutte & Katie Mahoney and then proceeded to gain confidence.   She raced alone into the wind all by herself and with wonderful self-deprecation would later state:  “I was not close to the leaders … I can’t think of finer runners to run with.”    She is a fine runner in her own right and she showed it yesterday, as she seemingly gained a bit on her rivals, who raced up ahead.    Meyers zipped through the next 400M in 75 seconds to assume command of the race on her way to a meet record of 10:18.46.   She demolished the former record of Brigid Stirling, held since 1985, of 10:40.   Katie Knight (10:26) & Kendra Weitz (10:33) also demolished the record, while Erin Hegarty stormed home in 10:57 – a time that in almost any year in history would have  been good for victory.   Payton Schutte ran a fine 11:11 to take fifth & was followed by Stephanie Rexus of Kamiakin & Katie Mahoney of Richland. 

      Action in the young men’s 3200 saw Vince Hamilton take charge early.  He had hopes of establishing a reasonably strong pace of 67 or 68s, which would be greeted by support from others.   Although he really would have liked “having company”, such was not the case and he was left on his own to try to run 8:58 for a school record.   The lack of support and a brutal breeze ended that goal early but he ran alone to a split of 4:36 at 1600 meters.  With his coach hollering 69, which was a bit below the plan, he headed on his way but the wind was howling and with no aid there was too much being asked.   Following splits of 5:44, 6:52 & 8:02 led to a final of 9:09.71, which was quite solid and would be in any weather.  Aaron Nelson of Walla Walla (9:20) & Jacob Smith of Wenatchee (9:31), a junior, plus Jeffrey Ott of Ellensburg followed in 9:33. 

       Othello athlete Christine Kirkwood etched her name firmly in meet history, when she tossed the javelin 166-09.  Kara Pattterson of Skyview held the record with 157-06, so Kirkwood’s throw was quite an improvement.   Shelby Ellsworth of Chiawana earned second with 135-08.   The girls’ pole vault saw four marks over eleven and Elizabeth Quick won with a vault of 12-00.  Quick was just off the mark of 12-03.   Anadae Egland (11-09), Jill Doyle (11-03) of Jesuit and Alizabeth Ennis of Mead 11-00 placed second through fourth respectively.   The wind was a factor in the long jump and was helpful to most everyone in the event but B J Arceneaux’ leap of 24-04-25 was impressive by any standard.   The Kentwood star was followed by Andre Scott of Lakewood (22-09) and Isaiah Davis (22-05) of South Kitsap.   Davis had a banner day, as he triumphed in the high jump by clearing 6-08 and he narrowly missed at 6-10, when he clipped the bar with his heel.   Other marks of note were set by Aaron Castle of Newport, who went 60-04 in the shot put and Darian Brooks, who went 47-02.75.   The girls’ discus competition was very close but Kaytlyn Coleman of Kennewick was victorious with her mark of 128-01.   Maci Whitby of Connell was a close second with 127-05 and Kayla Loop of Asotin & Alyx Toeina of Kentwood both topped 125.

     Baylee Mires walked off the track less than thrilled with her performance.  Although she had run a fine time, Baylee felt that she had to “recover from that mile” and she returned in the 800 with something to prove.   Mires took the lead early over a fine field and then charged alone around the track and then bore into the wind thinking “arms, arms, arms” and her time was a rather stunning 2:13.92 given the conditions.  Carly Wilczynski of Emerald Ridge earned second in 2:19, which is a time I had thought would earn victory as we were buffeted by the wind.   Olivia Artaiz of Jesuit was clocked in a fine 2:20.92 and placed third, while Maggie Jones of Richland and Sanne Holland of Cheney followed with time of 2:221 & change.  For Baylee this was her second victory in the 800M at Pasco.  Last year she won with 2:11 but under much better conditions. 

         Andrew Wordell of North Central and David Norris of Coeur d’Alene waged a stirring duel down the stretch along with Nich Boersma of Wenatchee.   Wordell rounded the turn and headed into the wind thinking “drive those arms” and he edged Norris 1:54.32 to 1:54.96 to claim the victory, while Boersma placed third with 1:55.  Marcus Dickson doubled back in the race placing sixth in 1:56. For Wordell his time was a PR and it should be noted that his unofficial time, which had been posted on the board, had been 1:53.13.      In the girls’ 1600M Kyra Burke of Inglemoor led through the first two laps but Amy Thornton led at the end winning in 5:12.  Jess Mildes & Emily Nordt took 2nd & 3rd, while placed sixth with 5:16.   Glacier Peak’s Sean White garnered the guys’ 1600 with a 4:21.33 clocking.   Jacob Smith of Wenatchee was a close second (4:21.91) and Nich Schippers came in third with 4:22.

     Oregon runners went 1 – 2 in the 300 hurdles as Jazmine Ratcliff of Benson and Mackenzie Matthews of Jesuit ran 46.29 & 46.30 respectively.  Wenatchee’s Nicole Dorsey placed third in the event.   Wes Bailey won the 300 with 39.51 edging Gunnar Swager, who was timed in 39.74.  It was a battle of underclassmen in the girls’ 400 Meter Run and sophomore Lindsay Burns of West Valley won with a rather stunning 56.95, given the conditions.   Janessa Day, yet another soph, placed second in 59.11 and Ellie Heiden of Kamiakin, a freshman, took third with 59.33.   In the young men’s 400 Meters it was nearly a blanket finish as Austin Thummel-Gravitt ofRogers-Puyallup won with 50.16 to edge Allan Schmekel of Lake Stevens, who ran 50.19.  Close behind were Dimitri Mandapat (50.88) of Eisenhower, Cooper Helm (51.22) and Jesuit’s Steve Raimondi, who ran 51.46.              

     It was great event in many ways and we can only look forward to the next fifty years of history for the event.   It truly should be noted that this meet does offer a fine record of history with one record dating back to 1966, when Joel Ferris great Rick Riley established the two mile record of 9:00.1 (1600 in 8:57.1) In fact it is rather remarkable that Gerry Lindgren might have even run here yet the list of those, who have run here, is a veritable Who’s Who of Washington track.   Among the noteworthy are Carl Moe, Nectaly Barbosa, Becca Noble, Brie Felnagle & Megan O’ Reilly.  That is pretty fine company for any athlete.