TACOMA - Squalicum distance runner Patrick Gibson was quick to say he was running with a team title in mind after he won the 1,600 meter Thursday, May 23. The rest of the Storm boys' team helped keep that dream alive with top times in prelim races during the Class 2A-3A-4A Track and Field State Championships Friday, May 24, at Mount Tahoma High School.
Squalicum's Kyler Reed qualified for the finals in both the 100 and 200 meter. He'll be competing in those races as well as the Storm's 4x100 and 4x400 relays Saturday, May 25. Teammate Jason Pfannenstiel nabbed an eighth-place finish in the 110 hurdles and also qualified in the 300 hurdles.
"I'm pretty confident," said Pfannenstiel about the Storm's chances at claiming a state championship. "I have a lot of confidence in Kyler that he'll continue into the finals and be able to score points. I'm scoring some points, and Patrick Gibson's there."
Rival Sehome was the only school to take home an individual state title, though, and pole vaulter Dylan Anderson claimed it.
The Mariners senior eclipsed a height of 14 feet, 9 inches, topping teammates Sam Humphreys, who took second, and Blaise Black, who finished tied for fifth.
"The second I got over the bar, I just said, 'This is going to be the sweetest free fall of my life,'" said Anderson of his reaction to clearing 14-9 and matching a school record in the process.
Anderson capped quite a one year turnaround with the win. He didn't qualify for state a year ago and admitted he's come along way since his freshman year.
"To see my changes is incredible," Anderson said. "My teammates are what drive me. They are the reason I won. I surround myself with them, and I try to stay positive, because the second you doubt yourself you're not going to make it."
The pole vault marked a truly dominating performance, as the Mariners claimed nearly half the podium spots.
"It takes a while to get warmed up," Humphreys said. "I started slow, but then I started getting back into the rhythm around 13-9."
In one year, Anderson improved his clearing height by over two feet, but he wasn't the only Mariner to have a breakthrough season.
First-year thrower and senior Austin Rapp claimed a fifth-place medal in the shot put. More known for his work on the football field, Rapp decided to hang up his baseball cleats this spring to work with Sehome throws coach Tim Carlson.
Rapp literally inched his way into the final flight before making a fifth-place toss.
"I barely snuck into the finals," Rapp said. "I think I got eighth by a quarter of an inch. I've always had this thing for throwing in the back of my head. I know coach Carlson always does an awesome job with the throwers. That's something to respect, and I figured I'd give it a try, and it turned out awesome."
Sehome runner Reed Henderson is no stranger to track and field, and he put himself in prime position to compete for a title in the 800 Saturday. His 1 minute, 55.6 seconds qualifying time topped the field.
He said he had more energy to expend, and he'll be looking to win a title after placing second in the event last year.
"I left a lot in the tank," Henderson said. "I got more speed for sure. Tomorrow will be real intense, worth watching."
Lynden's Trent Postma was the only Whatcom County competitor in the 400. He ran a 51.37, but it wasn't a strong enough time to advance to the finals.
Sehome's Ryan Otterholt and Bellingham's Tristan Hurley competed in the triple jump. Otterholt jumped for a 40-02.25 distance and settled for a 14th-place finish, and Hurley was one spot behind him, finishing in 15th with a leap of 39-07.00.
Ferndale's Shane Stockton, who entered the discus as the No. 6 seed, had a top throw of 132-11. The mark was only good enough for 10th place, as he was unable to claim a spot on the podium.
Though Squalicum's 4x100 team of Neall Koetje, Jonah Jacobson, Pfannenstiel and Reed qualified for Saturday's final, the No. 1 seed heading into the prelims settled for a third-place finish in their heat.
Still Squalicum should be in the running for a team title Saturday, and Pfannenstiel is excited about the prospect of that.
"It's just really awesome," he said. "Kyler and I have been best buddies out whole lives, and it's just sweet we get to run together and share this moment."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.