BELLINGHAM - Fifth place felt like first for Squalicum hurdler Allie Kohr last year, but it may take the real thing either this season or next year for the much-improved junior to feel like a winner at Class 2A state track and field.
Meanwhile, first place offered a unique feeling and a big confidence boost for Bellingham senior distance runner Joe Charbonneau.
And there's little doubt that Squalicum senior weight thrower Gina Flint is likely to enjoy more first place finishes than anyone in Whatcom County in individual events.
That sums up the major developments in a high-caliber season-opening Bellingham City Meet on Friday, March 15, at Civic Stadium, as Sehome's boys and girls prevailed in a match up of three of the state's most dominant Class 2A programs.
Sehome's boys swept Squalicum 87-58 and Bellingham 102-43. Sehome's girls did the same to Squalicum 90.33-55.66 and Bellingham 102-48. Squalicum swept Bellingham 74-67 on the boys' side and 77-73 in the girls' meet.
In the combined scoring, the Mariners swept Squalicum 177.33-113.66 and Bellingham 204-91, while the Storm edged Bellingham 151-140.
Flint flexed her muscles with high school competition bests of 150 feet even in the discus and 45-5 in the shot. Compare that to her state-winning marks of 143-9 and 42-111/4 last season. Storm weight coach Ted Flint, Gina's father, couldn't help flashing a smile of gratification.
Flint's quick check of the Internet revealed that his daughter's discus mark ranks fourth nationally as of the day she set the mark.
Fortunately for the Flints and almost everyone else, almost all of the meet was held in conditions about as nice as possible for mid-March. But when the twilight descended and the clouds moved in, the 4x400 relays were conducted in torrential rains as coaches and athletes laughed, cheered, frolicked and generally celebrated an otherwise fine day.
Kohr, who specializes in the short hurdles, appeared in mid-season form while winning the 100-meter barriers in 16.12 seconds, slightly better than her 16.14 for fifth at state last season.
"Fifth felt like first for me last season," said Kohr, who spent the entire season on a learning curve. "This year, I'd like to go for at least top three at state. My real goal this season is to break 15 seconds (her personal best last year was 15.22). I put in a lot of work before the season."
Charbonneau, who has signed with Seattle University, won the 800-meters in a thrilling race over fellow Division I scholarship winner Patrick Gibson, who won last year's 3,200 in state-record time and finished second in the 1,600, also breaking the state mark. Charbonneau clocked a personal best 1:58.7 Friday to edge the Stanford-bound Gibson's 1:59.1 and a sharp 1:59.9 by Sehome's Trevor Northrop.
"It's the first time I've ever won any race against Patrick," said Charbonneau, who feels he is likely to run the two longer distance events at state. "It's only the second time I've ever run the 800. It's a big confidence booster. But to win at state, well, I would have a better chance against Patrick in the 1,600 than 3,200."
Charbonneau said the race typified why he's so thrilled to be competing in a county full of top distance runners.
"We have so much respect for each other," he said.
To show the remarkable depth all three schools can boast, Flint and Sehome's Blaise Black were the only double winners. Black, that rare 300-meter hurdler who also competes in the pole vault, won the long barriers in 44.10 and vaulted 13 feet.
Sehome turned in an encouraging victory in the meet-opening girls' 4x200 relay as Sarah Dolese, Hanna Tarleton, Kendra Thomas and relay newcomer Elsa Sandeno, a sophomore, clocked 1:46.08, an outstanding early season time. Sandeno, who also won the 400, and the three returnees won at state last year in a state record 1:41.70.
"That was a very impressive early season effort. It surprised me," said Sehome sprints coach Nic Castona. "The girls were told to run under control and they executed the race exactly as they were supposed to. That time would have placed at state last year."
Defending girls' state pole vault champion Kirsten Webber of Squalicum also won at 11-6, only three inches shy of her winning state mark.
Squalicum freshman Kim Hazlett, who displayed her speed while making the all-county soccer team, scored a victory in the 100 meters in a school-record 12.88 over Bellingham's Alyssa Porter, who finished second at state last year with a 12.41. The Storm also had an outstanding boys' sprint effort when Kyler Reed won the 200 in 22.92.
"I was surprised to win," said Hazlett. "She's really fast. It was just fun to get to run against such a fast runner."
Sehome senior Conner Johnsen, who said one of his goals is to let everyone know how his name is spelled, won the boys' 1,600 in a personal best 4:26.9 over teammate Reed Henderson, to go with fellow Mariner Emily Pittis' victory in the girls' 1,600.
"I feel great. This is the first track season I've ever come in healthy," said Johnsen, whose third at state last fall helped Sehome win at state cross country. "This felt so good. Of course, Patrick Gibson overshadows all of us in the distances, but it's so much fun running against all these guys."
Sehome's Brianna Keane won the girls' 800 in a solid 2:19.4.
Former Sehome baseball player Austin Rapp made an encouraging debut in the boys' shot put while finishing second at 46-21/4 behind Bellingham's Thomas Vazorka, who reached 46-8.
"That was a real good first effort," said Sehome co-coach Tim Carlson of Rapp, who will be an invited football walk-on at Washington State. "It's not easy to switch motions so quickly from pitching down (from the mound) to throwing up. We feel fortunate to have Austin. He's very coachable and a great addition to the team."
BOYS' CITY MEET
Team scores: Sehome 102, Bellingham 43; Sehome 87, Squalicum 58; Squalicum 74, Bellingham 67.
100 -- Daniel Ziegler (Se) 11.25; 200 -- Kyler Reed (Sq) 22.92; 400 -- Chris Fredlund (Sq) 52.67; 800 -- Joe Charbonneau (B) 1:58.7; 1600 -- Conner Johnson (Se) 4:26.9; 3200 -- Kirby Overman (Se) 10:22.4; 110 hurdles -- Hunter Hanlon (Sq) 16.20; 300 hurdles -- Blaise Black (Se) 44.10; 4x100 relay -- Squalicum (Jason Pfannenstiel, Neall Koetje, Jonah Jacobson, Kyler Reed) 44.15; 4x400 relay -- Sehome (Reed Henderson, Conner Johnsen, Trevor Northrop, Noah Ringler) 3:37.6; Shot put -- Thomas Vazorka (B) 46-8; Long jump -- Jonah Jacobson (Sq) 19-9; High jump -- Chris Wilson (Se) 5-10; Discus -- Joel Jensen (Sq) 129-8; Javelin -- Marques Reynolds (B) 145-11; Pole vault -- Blaise Black (Se) 13-0; Triple jump -- Sam Humphreys (Se) 40-11.
GIRLS' CITY MEET
Team scores: Sehome 102, Bellingham 48; Sehome 90.33, Squalicum 55.66; Squalicum 77, Bellingham 73.
100 -- Kim Hazlett (Sq) 12.88; 200 -- Chantal Tran (B) 27.41; 400 -- Elsa Sandeno (Se) 1:02.27; 800 -- Brianna Keane (Se) 2:19.4; 1600 -- Emily Pittis (Se) 5:19.91; 3200 -- Linsday Hodgson (Se) 12:28.7; 100 hurdles -- Allie Kohr (Sq) 16.12; 300 hurdles -- Hanna Tarleton (Se) 46.22; 4x200 relay -- Sehome (Sarah Dolese, Elsa Sandeno, Hanna Tarleton, Kendra Thomas) 1:46.08; 4x100 relay -- Bellingham (Alyssa Porter, Chantal Tran, Crystal Cochrane, Mary Dyrland) 52.02; 4x400 relay -- Sehome (complete team unlisted) 4:16.8; Triple jump -- Zoe Peterson (Sq) 34-6; Shot put -- Gina Flint (Sq) 45-5; Long jump -- Izzi Roberts (B) 15-103/4; High jump -- Olivia Halverson (B) 5-0; Discus -- Gina Flint (Sq) 150-0; Javelin -- Bodie Medler (Se) 108-10; Pole vault -- Kirsten Webber (Sq) 11-6.