Top area track and field athletes once again head to Washington state meets in Cheney and Tacoma this week.

The Class 1B/2B/1A schools head to Eastern Washington University in Cheney, while Wa-Hi’s contingent heads west to Mount Tahoma High in Tacoma to compete against the state’s top 4A athletes.

Last year, the Blue Devil boys came agonizingly close to a state team title, missing out by half a point, behind Chiawana, Issaquah, Bothell and Camas, who all tied for first.

On Thursday, Wa-Hi takes to the Mount Tahoma track and field with realistic state individual, and team, title chances.

“It’s really been a magical year,” Blue Devils coach Eric Hisaw said, after both the Wa-Hi boys and girls secured District 8 titles last weekend. “We’ve talked a lot about it as a staff, and constantly reinforce to the kids how fun this has been, to be around them. 

“Yes, the winning is awesome... and this year, literally historic, but these kids — I just can’t say enough about them, their integrity, honesty, character, work ethic, focus, drive, competitive desire and genuine love for one another!” he said. “It’s unlike any team I’ve coached here in 22 years. The way they feed off of one another, enjoy being around each other, hold each other accountable, demand excellence, expect success and the detail in which they go about their work, both in practice and competition, it’s been a true blessing to be part of their lives and their season this spring.”

Wa-Hi’s teams have experienced great success already this season, the boys winning all but one meet and the girls missing out on the top spot in just three meets.

“But, as we go into this weekend, we have a chance to be historic again,” Hisaw said. “The girls team comes in where we are ranked in the top 10 in seven events. In three-four events, we are top five.”

Leading the way is Noelani Helm, who placed third in the javelin at state last year, and is ranked fourth in javelin as well as high jump this year.

“Both events are ones where she truly excels and has a real chance to be on the top three places when it’s all said and done,” Hisaw said.

Madi Knight qualified in four events, and is ranked in the top eight in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. She’s also in the long jump and a member of the Blue Devils’ 1,600 relay.

“She too has a real chance to end up on the podium,” Hisaw said. “She will have to jump close to 18 feet to place in the long jump, but it’s in her wheelhouse, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she did.”

Knight is joined by Sariah Hepworth, Ella Nelson and Jenna Huntsman in the 1,600 relay.

“They will have a real chance to make the finals if they can run 4:02 or faster, and I do believe we can,” Hisaw said. “It will be a real test for them.”

Nelson is also running the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races.

“Ella has been just dominant this spring,” Hisaw said. “We’ve been able to keep her fresh and not over run her, and we think she’s going to have a great weekend.”

Eliana Coburn is going in the high jump, and Taryn Bohanan won a jump-off last weekend to earn a spot in the high jump.

“We think the girls have a chance to finish in the top eight at the state meet,” he said. “If it happens, it will again be historic, as we haven’t been in the top 10 since 1994!”

As for the Blue Devil boys, after their oh-so-close finish last year, “They’ve been waiting for this meet for a full year,” Hisaw said. “Last year was so exciting, but so agonizing, losing the state title by half a point! 

“But, that adversity has also made us better, more focused, and more hungry all year,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason, and I’m not sure if we would’ve been this good had we won it all last year. There has been a focus point all year, and now we are finally here to go try to win our first ever state title, under this format. We will have to have a great weekend, but it is doable.”

Hisaw expects still competition from Tahoma, Camas, Federal Way and Union,which “are all also very talented and will challenge the heck out of us.”

Heading the Blue Devils charge is Patrick Utschinski, the state leader in both the shot put and discus and the favorite to win state titles in both, Hisaw said. 

Utschinski was second in discus and third in shot put last year, “and will not be in awe of this meet,” Hisaw said.

Jahmal Mangarero qualified in discus and javelin, and placed third in javelin last year.

“He had his lifetime best in this meet last year, and I know he will rise up to this weekend’s competition in the jav!” Hisaw said. “He’s also a darkhorse to place in the discus. He has the potential to throw 150-feet-plus, as he has in practice, and if he can do this, it will be a huge bonus for us.”

Also stepping up is freshman Dash Sirmon in the javelin.

“He’s really come out of nowhere to get here, and it’s very exciting for him,” Hisaw said. “He’s been around track all his life, watched his siblings place here, and I think has a real chance to wind up on the podium this weekend.”

Cooper Cortinas is in a tough field in the 1,600 meters.

“He’s got such a great feel for this race right now, and has just gotten better and better each week and in every big meet,” Hisaw said. “He will have to run the race he did last weekend to be competitive, but I think his best is still yet to come. I’m excited for him and his opportunity to shock the state of Washington.”

And Jared McAlvey is ranked in the top three in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, and top six in the 200-meters.

“He is good enough to win all three, but the competition is really tight,” Hisaw said. “There are four kids within 0.2 seconds of each other in the 300 hurdles, and three within 0.3 seconds in the 110 hurdles.

“Jared is excited, confident and ready to show the state, that he is best there is.”

McAlvey is also part of the Blue Devil boys’ 400 relay, along with Haden Wegner, Ryan Moore and Brady Kinney.

“They’ve been in huge meets all year, and they are really excited about their opportunity,” Hisaw said.

“The weather looks like it will be pretty decent over in Tacoma and that will be nice for everyone,” Hisaw said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to shine. We are only going to worry about what we can control — US!  

“This is a group that is mentally tough, physically ready and emotionally very stable,” he said. “They get up for the moment, but never in awe of it, and they don’t let it take them over.  

“They are all extremely excited to represent this community and Walla Walla High School this weekend, and spending a lot of time on the award stand!”

In Cheney, Braeden Schwarz leads College Place’s contingent on EWU’s track and field.

Schwarz is ranked second in the triple jump and in the top five in the long jump.

“I really feel like Braeden Schwarz has a shot for in both the long jump and triple jump to get on the podium this year,” Hawks coach Ryan Lackey said.

Niel Wright is qualified in the 100 and 200 meters, and “has a shot in the 200 to make the finals and potentially get to the podium in that event, as well,” Lackey said.

College Place also has its 400 and 1,600 relays going, with Tanner Schreindl, Schwarz, Isaac Skay and Wright running in both.

“Both boys relays are in the top five in state as well, so they have a good chance of getting on the podium,” Lackey said.

Lincoln Mullen in the javelin, Drexler Yesiki in discus and Xavier Thompson in the shot put have also been throwing well, their coach said.

For the Hawks girls, Madeline Weaver “has had a great year in all of her events this season,” Lackey said, as she goes in the 100 and triple jump.

“I think she has a shot to make the finals in the triple jump,” he said.

Melia Loe ran a personal record in the 3,200 at sub-district into a head wind, “so if the conditions are right for her, she could move into the top eight for spot on the podium,” Lackey said.

Madilyn Neil is in the 100 hurdles as well as triple jump.

“If Madilyn keeps running like she has in practice, she might surprise a few of her competitors,” Lackey said.

Vanessa Rodriguez “has more to go” in the shot put,” Lackey said.

And College Place’s girls 400 relay, of Sadie Flores, Trinity Buchanan, Neil and Weaver, and the 1,600 relay, of Neil, Eleonora Frokic, Loe and Weaver, “have really improved this season,” Lackey said, “and to see them at this meet is a first for the girls program.

“Really, my best expectation is that they go out there and compete and leave it all out on the track, so when they walk away they aren’t questioning themselves with the “I should’ve done...” or “What if...” 

In the 1B/2B ranks, Pomeroy and Prescott at 1B, and DeSales, Walla Walla Valley Academy and Dayton-Waitsburg has athletes in Cheney.

The Irish are taking their entire girls team to state.

Katelyn Hassler is seeded in the top three in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and the 400 meters.

“She has the potential to win all three events, but I would be really surprised if she doesn’t at least finish in the top three in each one,” DeSales coach Michael Scheel said. “Katelyn is the hardest working and most determined athlete I have ever coached.

“Katelyn is also in the girls 4x400, which should finish finish in the top three as well,” he said. “We have the second fastest time — St. Georges will be our main competition. Our girls (Hassler, Holland Buratto, Emmalyne Jimenez and Lesley Arceo) have had their eyes set on this matchup all season.”

Irish senior Lauren Ruthven caps her prep career in the 3,200 meters, as well as an alternate on the 1,600 relay.

“She has the potential to make it on the medal stand as well,” Scheel said. “Lauren has been the leader of our girls’ distance program the past four years.”

Arceo, in addition running all three DeSales relays, goes in the triple jump.

“We are extremely happy that the event (relays) is on Thursday, so she can focus on jumping,” Scheel said. “Lesley also has a real chance to get on the medal stand if she jumps well. If she reaches her goal of 33 feet, she’ll medal.”

The Irish 400 relay of Kenna Buratto, Holland Buratto, Sadie Jones and Emmalyne Jimenez, and 800 relay of Holland Buratto, Jones, Jimenez and Arceo, are running.

“Both of these relays will have to shave off some time in order to make it into the finals, but they have been training extremely well and they will be ready,” Scheel said.

DeSales also has two eighth-grade girls qualified for state, in Jimenez and Morgan Thomas.

Jimenez won the 800 meters at regionals.

“She is set up to possibly win the event at state,” Scheel said. “She should finish in the top three for sure, but we are hoping she peaks at state and wins. 

“Emmalyne is also an important part of all three relays.”

Thomas is at state in the shot put and discus.

“She is in a good position to make it into the finals as well, but it’s going to take her best efforts of the season,” Scheel said.

On the boys side, DeSales has three boys competing in individual events. 

Tim Scheel is competing in the 200, 400 and anchors the 1,600 relay. 

“I’m so proud of Tim,” his coach, and father, said. “He has worked harder this season than ever. 

“Last year, he missed going to state by .01 and was heartbroken,” he said. “He also barely missed going to state for the Wa-Hi swim team in the breaststroke this past winter. 

“These close calls gave him the motivation and determination to make it to state. This is Tim’s 12th varsity season, but his first trip to state.”

Koy Fruci is running the 800, and Patrick Jones is in the 3,200. 

“The boys 4x400 relay of Tim (Scheel, Koy (Fruci), Ryan Rizzuti and Jadon Bingham should be able to medal as well, but they will have to shave off about five seconds between them to do it,” coach Scheel said. “Our training program is designed to have our athletes finish the season with their best performances, so it is definitely possible. 

“This will be the first state experience for all of our boys,” he said. “All of the girls have had state experience except for our two eighth graders.”

Also in Cheney at the 2B meet is Dayton-Waitsburg’s Kristin Miller in the girls 300 hurdles.

Walla Walla Valley Academy sends state contender Justin Roosma in the 800 and 1,600 events, and Matthew Rittenbach in the 1,600 and 3,200.

At the 1B level, Prescott’s Ericka Eulloqui is competing in the girls 100 hurdles as well as 300 hurdles, and Omar Velazco (110 hurdles), Jonathan Cardenas (triple jump) and Miguel Ayala (shot put, discus) are going for the Tiger boys.

Pomeroy’s boys have Sidney Bales, Rylan Snyder, Logan Ledgerwood, Colton Slaybaugh and Tanner Bremer are all in the pole vault, along with its 400 relay of Snyder, Bales, Devon Knuteson and Slaybaugh.

The Pirate girls have Carmen Gingerich (100), Nikki Halbert (100, 200), Sydney Smith (400), Raelin Borley (shot put), Destany Herbert (shot put, discus), Katie Boyer (pole vault) and Alex Bremer (pole vault) in individual events.

They also have the 400 relay of Halbert, Tiffany Wessels, Gingerich and Smith, the 800 relay of Tiffany Wessels, Smith, Gingerich and Halbert, and 1,600 relay of Gingerich, Caitlyn Quarles, Tiffany Wessels and Smith, at state.

State meets get underway Thursday at both Cheney and Tacoma, and conclude on Saturday.

“This has been my most enjoyable season coaching to date,” Scheel said. “I have fabulous assistant coaches, supportive parents and a team of amazing athletes that work hard in practice everyday.”

Area state track and field qualifiers

Class 1B/2B/1A

at Eastern Washington University, Cheney

1B Boys

Pomeroy

400 relay (Rylan Snyder, Sidney Bales, Devon Knuteson, Colton Slaybaugh; alt: Tanner Bremer, Braedon Fruh)

Sidney Bales — pole vault

Rylan Snyder — pole vault

Logan Ledgerwood — pole vault

Colton Slaybaugh — pole vault

Tanner Bremer — pole vault

Prescott

Omar Velazco — 110 hurdles

Jonathan Cardenas — triple jump

Miguel Ayala — shot put, discus 

1B Girls

Pomeroy

Carmen Gingerich — 100 meters

Nikki Halbert — 100 meters, 200 meters

Sydney Smith — 400 meters

400 relay (Nikki Halbert, Tiffany Wessels, Carmen Gingerich, Sydney Smith; alt: Anna Wessels)

800 relay (Tiffany Wessels, Sydney Smith, Carmen Gingerich, Nikki Halbert; alt: Anna Wessels, Jaden Steele)

1,600 relay (Carmen Gingerich, Caitlyn Quarles, Tiffany Wessels, Sydney Smith; alt: Teagan Steele, Katie Boyer)

Raelin Borley — shot put

Destany Herbert — shot put, discus

Katie Boyer — pole vault

Alex Bremer — pole vault

Prescott

Ericka Eulloqui — 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles

2B Boys

DeSales

Tim Scheel — 200 meters, 400 meters

Koy Fruci — 800 meters

Patrick Jones — 3,200 meters

1,600 relay (Koy Fruci, Jadon Bingham, Ryan Rizzuti, Tim Scheel; alt: Patrick Jones, Simon Scheel)

Walla Walla Valley Academy

Justin Roosma — 800 meters, 1,600 meters

Matthew Rittenbach — 1,600 meters, 3,200 meters

2B Girls

Dayton-Waitsburg

Kristin Miller — 300 hurdles

DeSales

Katelyn Hassler — 100 hurdles, 400 meters, 300 hurdles

Emmalyne Jimenez — 800 meters

Lauren Ruthven — 3,200 meters

400 relay (Kenna Buratto, Holland Buratto, Sadie Jones, Lesley Arceo; alt: Emmalyne Jimenez, Morgan Thomas)

800 relay (Kenna Buratto, Holland Buratto, Emmalyne Jimenez, Lesley Arceo; alt: Sadie Jones, Morgan Thomas)

1,600 relay (Holland Buratto, Emmalyne Jimenez, Katelyn Hassler, Lesley Arceo; alt: Sadie Jones, Lauren Ruthven)

Lesley Arceo — triple jump

Morgan Thomas — shot put, discus

1B Boys

College Place 

Niel Wright — 100 meters, 200 meters

400 relay (Tanner Schreindl, Braeden Schwarz, Isaac Skay, Niel Wright; alt: Tyler Arlington, Lincoln Mullen)

1,600 relay (Tanner Schreindl, Braeden Schwarz, Isaac Skay, Niel Wright; alt: Joshua Courtney, Eli Durand)

Braeden Schwarz — long jump, triple jump

Xavier Thompson — shot put

Drexler Yesiki — discus

Lincoln Mullen — javelin

1B Girls

College Place

Madeline Weaver — 100 meters, triple jump

Melia Loe — 1,600 meters, 3,200 meters

Madilyn Neil — 100 hurdles, triple jump

400 relay (Sadie Flores, Trinity Buchanan, Madilyn Neil, Madeline Weaver; alt: Lauren Green, Ashley Romero)

1,600 relay (Madilyn Neil, Eleonora Frokic, Melia Loe, Madeline Weaver; alt: Emma Darnold, Trinity Buchanan)

Vanessa Rodriguez — shot put

Class 2A/3A/4A

at Mount Tahoma High, Tacoma

4A Boys

Wa-Hi

Jared McAlvey — 200 meters, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles

Cooper Cortinas — 1,600 meters

400 relay (Haden Wegner, Ryan Moore, Jared McAlvey, Brady Kinney; alt: Josiah Wik, Grady Lemma)

Patrick Utschinski — shot put, discus

Jahmal Mangarero — discus, javelin

Dash Sirmon — javelin

4A Girls

Madi Knight — 100 meters, 300 hurdles, long jump

Ella Nelson — 1,600 meters, 3,200 meters

1,600 relay (Sariah Hepworth, Ella Nelson, Eliana Coburn, Madi Knight; alt: Jennifer Huntsman, Ellie Sievertsen)

Eliana Coburn — high jump

Noelani Helm — high jump, javelin

Bret Rankin graduated from Western Washington University, and after reporting and editing at several newspapers in western Washington, he joined the Union-Bulletin in 1999 as a sports reporter/copy editor. He has been sports editor since 2010.

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