Oroville, Tonasket bring home state track medals

Hornets bring home multiple medals

CHENEY- Oroville’s track and field squad brought home a total of six medals last weekend from the WIAA State 2B Track and Field Championships, with the girls squad garnering a ninth place finish.

“Our athletes followed up at state with stellar performances,” said Oroville coach Harold Jensen. “Experience, dedication, and focus along with great support from parents, coaches, and team members enabled them to excel in all their events.”

Sierra Speiker led the way by winning state titles in the 3200 and 1600, as well as taking fifth place in the 800 (read about her record setting weekend here).

Kaitlyn Grunst came within a heel hitting the bar of having a legitimate shot at the state high jump title, finishing third with leap of 5-0.

“My goals were to PR which I was so close to doing,” Grunst said. “I hardly tapped the bar with my heal at 5-2 and it fell. Another goal was the medal higher than I did last year, which I did. My last goal was to beat my competitors that I have been struggling to beat all year and I did that, so I feel accomplished.”

Grunst, bound for Eastern Washington University to study physical therapy or exercise science (and walk onto the track team) also competed in the long jump, finishing 10th with a jump of 15-2.75.

“(This season) had some ups and downs,” Grunst said. “But in the end I ended up PR-ing at triple jump, making it to state high jump and long jump and the 4×400. I finished the season with some great season and awesome memories.”

The relay team, with Grunst, Brittany Jewett, Sammie Walimaki and Phoebe Poynter, didn’t make the championship heat but, after coming in seeded 15th, improved their standing with the 14th-best time (4:41.66) recorded in the preliminary heat. Speiker had run the relay through much of the season, but with Poynter, a freshman, the quartet recorded its second-best time of the year and was significantly faster than a week ago in winning the District 5/6 title.

Jewett, a four-time state qualifier in multiple events, had hoped to reach the medal podium (top eight), but it wasn’t to be.

“That was my goal for my last trip to state,” she said. “When I was running the first leg of the relay I wanted to give Kaitlyn and the other girls a good lead position when I handed off the baton. As I was coming down the last 100 meters still in second place I got really pumped up and was happy I held my own all the way through my 400, even with an injured ankle. “Thinking about it being my last time running on that track definitely gave me a burst of energy to push myself all the way through. All four of us girls tried our hardest and even though we didn’t make it to finals in the relay, i can look back and say I gave it my all.”

Jewett was also part of the volleyball and girls basketball teams that had their most successful runs in school history.

“This year was almost everything I could have hoped for and more,” she said. “I feel like I definitely went out with a bang. Making it to districts in volleyball and winning so many games was the perfect start to my senior year. Then adding on our successful season in basketball being the first Oroville team to ever make it to the first round of state was even better. “Finishing my athletic career making it to state for my fourth year in track was the cherry on top of the best sports season a person could ask for.”

Walimaki, a sophomore, also qualified for State in the pole vault, finishing 14th with a jump of 6-0.

“Brittany, Sammie, Kaitlyn and Phoebe left it all on the track in their events,” Jensen said. “They should all be very proud of themselves.”

On the boys’ side, Tanner Smith led the way with a third place finish in the 100-meter dash.

Smith, who finished eighth at State last year, advanced to the finals with a run of 11.57 in the preliminary heat and followed that up with an 11.58 in the finals to finish third.

“All I was aiming for was to place higher than last year,” Smith said. “I felt really good in the finals. Those other guys just out ran me in the end; I was happy I was able to take third because i was ranked fifth (heading into the meet).”

“Tanner and Luke (Kindred) were both very consistent in their events,” Jensen said. “They had strong, high finishes.”

Kindred had hoped to earn a better finish in the state javelin finals than his fifth-place performance a year ago.

He ended up settling for fifth again with a throw of 161-1, nearly 10 feet better than in 2013 but not quite as well as he’d been throwing in recent weeks.

“I was a little disappointed how I threw after PR-ing three weeks in a row, and then throwing for a lot less at State,” he said. “But I threw pretty well, and this year I placed the same with a throw almost ten feet further.”

Kindred wasn’t completely healthy all season – he suffered a separated shoulder during football season – and admitted it probably kept him from achieving some of his goals.

“I think I could have done a lot better with my shoulder in the condition that it is,” he said. “I think if I wouldn’t have injured it, I’d have the school record.”

Colfax won the girls team title while Raymond was the boys’ champ, edging the Central Washington League’s Liberty Bell boys for the title.


Tonasket’s Walts claims two medals

CHENEY – It’s hard to imagine anyone ever accusing Rose Walts of being cocky.

The Tonasket sophomore wasn’t sure what she’d run up against when she ran the 100-meter hurdles last Friday at the Class 1A state finals at Eastern Washington University. As it turns out, nearly everyone else should have been worried about running against Walts.

Walts finished second in her preliminary heat on Friday, clocking the third best time overall out of 16 state qualifiers, then ran a blazing 15.71 in the championship heat to nab the state runner-up spot.

Hannah Rusnak of Lynden Christian won the state title with a run of 15.28 seconds. Maggie Cobb of Chewelah, who beat Walts at last week’s regional meet, was third.

Walts also beat history, taking down Chris Veit’s 1984 school record of 16.0 seconds.

“Going into state I felt like everyone there was going to be faster than me,” Walts said. “But then when I figured out I made it to finals I started crying right there at the finish line.

“Everyone was just looking at me like, what the heck you should be happy. I was, it was just tears of joy.”

Her goal for the day changed pretty quickly, she said.

“Once I got to the finals, my goal was to finish first or second,” Walts said. “I was so happy, and I still am. When I saw my hurdle PR I was like, ‘I finally made it into the 15s.'”

That wasn’t Walts’ only personal best, or school record for that matter.

Her leap of 35-5 in the triple jump was a foot better than the 1992 record of 34-5.5 set by Brittany Lindhe. It was also good for a sixth place finish, which caught Walts so by surprise that she nearly missed the medal ceremony.

“I was just glad to make it the finals (top nine from the preliminary flights),” Walts said. “I thought I got ninth, so we were all getting on the bus when I heard over the loudspeaker, ‘And in sixth place, Rose Walts.’ So I finished in a better spot than I thought I would in both my individual events.”

Her triple jump PR surprised her as well.

“I PRd by a foot and four inches,” she said. “I was so surprised I didn’t believe it.”

Tonasket coach Bob Thornton noted it’s a good year when three long-standing school records (including Kathryn Cleman’s 9-6 in the pole vault at the Caribou Trail League meet) down.

“It is hard to perform at your peak four weeks in a row,” he said, ticking off the league, District 6, Bi-District 6/7 regional and state meets. “These athletes were up to the challenge. The State meet was a great end to a great season.”

Seniors have their last hurrah

Walts also ran in the 4×100 relay with Cleman, Cassie Spear, and Kylie Dellinger, all seniors.

In a deep field, the Tiger quartet finished 11th out of 18 qualifying teams, missing the championship heat by three spots.

Their time of 52.28 was their third best time of the year; they would have needed a season best to crack the top eight.

For Dellinger, it was the final race of her career, capped off by a unique season in which she won a Caribou Trail League title in the 3200-meter run and was part of a state-qualifying sprint relay.

“I don’t know how I did that,” Dellinger said. “It just kind of happened, but I love it.”

She said that getting to run at state again – she ran as part of the 4×400 last year – was a great way to finish her final season.

“My last go-around was awesome,” she said. “I’m very said it’s over, but it was all worth it going to State. Just being there and running is the best feeling.”

It just didn’t happen quite the way she thought it might.

“I did want to go to State; I just was hoping to go in long distance,” Dellinger said. “I’d never run the 4×100 until this year.”

Cleman and Spear each qualified for individual events as well.

Spear qualified in both the 400 and 200-meter dashes, and best shot at a medal seemed to be in the 400, in which she had lowered her time consistently over the final month of the season. But her false start just before the starting gun fired robbed her of the chance to make the championship heat.

She bounced back within an hour to come within a couple hundredths of a second to match her PR in the 200, in the process defeating CTL rivals Maddy Parton (Cascade) and Valerie Tobin (200), beating Parton for the first time despite missing the finals heat by one spot.

“This season really did surprise me in a great way,” Spear said. “I feel like I pushed myself more than ever, and it paid off at state as I was able to finally to beat Maddy and Valerie in the 200. I’ve never dreamed of beating them; they are amazing runners!

“It was a huge disappointment not being able to run my 400 race, but I still feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to qualify for state in three events.”

Cleman also competed in the pole vault, finishing 11th with a vault of 8-0.

The boys team was represented by junior Ethan Bensing in the triple jump and sophomore Ryan Rylie in the 400, both of them having qualified for State for the first time.

Bensing, it would seem would have no luck at all if he didn’t have bad luck. Last year he failed to make the state finals despite one of the top regional performances due to a “stacked” region; this time around just about everyone in the field recorded PRs at the state meet. His leap of 41-4.75 would have earned him sixth place in 2013, but this year was only good for 11th as 13 of the 16 competitors surpassed the 40 foot mark (only the top eight did last year).

Rylie surpassed his personal best in the 400, finishing in 52.73. He was seeded 16th heading into the meet but beat his seeding by two spots.