LYNDEN - Kirsten Webber has been debating how to get a protective fence built near Squalicum's pole vault practice area.
"Gina Flint is so awesome, we joke about how close she is coming to us with the discus in practice," Webber said in the wake of Flint's school girls' record and state-leading throw of 153 feet, 11 inches at the annual Bedlington Twilight Invitational on Friday, March 22. "We need to build a fence."
Fortunately for Flint, however, she doesn't have to worry about standing under the pole vault bar.
That's because it was Flint's turn to be in awe of Webber when the sophomore pole vaulted a school-record 12 feet, setting a personal best in regular-season high school competition. Webber figures to be at or near the state's all-classification girls' season best, since she came in tied for second place at 11-6.
"Kirsten told me she was going to vault 12 feet," said Flint, a senior who has signed with the University of Washington and hopes to sweep Class 2A state discus and shot put honors again. "She's really a great teammate and is so dedicated."
Webber probably wouldn't argue about the dedication part.
"I feel a little more confident now," she said of the mental barrier of clearing 12 feet so early in the season. "I knew I could do it. My goal this year is 13 feet, since that's the state record. I got the official state freshman record last June at the Alki meet in Seattle with 12-3, and I did 12-5 at a Bellingham all-comers meet in the summer."
Flint, who came into the day ranking third nationally in the discus at 150-0, also set a meet record in the shot put (42-113/4), breaking both of her old marks set last year. Squalicum junior Madi Krussow vaulted a personal best 11 feet for second place, tying the meet record and causing team captain Flint to exult, "Yes!" when someone told her.
"I am so happy for Madi," said Flint, who credited weightlifting and working in the offseason with her quick start, along with the advice of Storm throws coach Chris Benson. "Madi's really been wanting that."
Sehome's Sarah Dolese turned in a solid double with victories in the 100 meters (13.01, beating Bellingham standout Alyssa Porter by one-tenth second) and the 200 (unofficially 26.2). Dolese also anchored the 4x200 and 4x100 relay teams to meet records in 1:47.03 and 50.01, respectively.
Sehome, which was in a tight battle with Burlington-Edison for girls' team honors at deadline for this story, displayed its relay depth. Kendra Thomas, Hanna Tarleton and sophomore Elsa Sandeno also ran on the 4x200, which came in with the state's top time at 1:46.08, and the same foursome ran the 4x100.
"I ran the 4x400 prelims at state last year," said Sandeno. "Now I would love to run on all three relays at state. I just love relays because it's easier to run when you're doing it for others. The other girls have been really supportive of me (as the lone relay newcomer). It really feels great."
Other Whatcom County winners in the girls' races were Bellingham's Crystal Cochrane in the 400 (1:04.40), Sehome's Brianna Keane in the 800 (unofficially 2:20), Squalicum's Brittany Gappa in the 1,600 (5:18.45), Sehome's Emily Pittis in the 3,200 (11:25.56) and Tarleton in the 300 hurdles (46.34). Tarleton came in with a state-leading 46.22, although she ran in the high 44s while finishing second at state 2A last year.
Other Whatcom County field event winners were Lynden Christian teammates Hannah Wynstra in the javelin (118-9, a meet record by three inches) and Madison Weg in the high jump (5-0) and Squalicum's Zoe Peterson in the triple jump (33-10).
The girls' and boys' 4x-400 relays had not been contested by deadline, nor had the boys' 3,200 and pole vault, which went well into the night. The meet was run quickly and efficiently before a large, appreciative crowd, but with 51 heats in the winning events and well over 700 athletes participating, it was a long twilight.
Sehome sophomore Nick Saupe posted a quality boys' double victory in the hurdles, clocking a promising 15.86 and 41.71. Teammate Reed Henderson won the 800 in 1:57.39, easily a state top 10 time, and Sehome junior Daniel Ziegler claimed the 200 (unofficial 23.0) after losing in the 100 by one-hundredth second to Squalicum's Kyler Reed (11.48).
Sehome's young 4x100 relay team of juniors Ricky Heilmann and Ziegler, Saupe and freshman Taylor Rapp was impressive with a victory in 44.32 - only .82 off the meet mark.
"Reed Henderson really made a statement with his 800 on such a cold, early season night," said Sehome co-coach Kevin Ryan, whose team had a huge lead over second-place Burlington-Edison heading into the final few events.
"That really was a good race to start my season with," said Henderson, who was in his first meet.
Other Whatcom County boys' winners in running results available by deadline included Lynden's Jalani Phelps in the 400 (51.60) and Bellingham's Joe Charbonneau in the 1,600 (4:26.89).
In the field, Squalicum got victories from high jumper Ben Garcia (5-10), long jumper Jonah Jacobson (19-10) and discus thrower Joel Jensen (134-5). Other county field winners by deadline included Sehome's Sam Humphreys in the triple jump (39-7), Bellingham's Thomas Vazorka in the shot put (47-71/2) and Meridian's Spencer Blackburn in the javelin (168-11/2).
Sehome's Tarleton called being the early state leader "really exciting," especially considering that she feels she has unfinished business since she finished second at Class 2A state last year in the 300 hurdles.
"But at this point, I'm not focused on things like that," she said of her willingness to work in one of track's toughest events. "I just want to work on my endurance. That's what I'm really focused on."