BELLINGHAM - No one, ever, in the history of Washington state girls' track and field pole vaulting has accomplished what Squalicum junior Kirsten Webber did during a rainy Saturday, April 5, at the annual Birger Solberg Invite in Bellingham's Civic Stadium.
Webber, who won a Class 2A pole vaulting title two years ago and placed second last spring, had a hunch the day she'd take down the girls' pole vaulting all classifications state record was coming, but she didn't anticipate the accomplishment coming three weeks into the season.
Two months ago at a winter indoor meet, Webber nearly eclipsed the previous 13-foot pole vaulting record. On Saturday she set a new state standard by clearing a height of 13-00.10, establishing herself as the top girls' athlete to ever vault in Washington.
"I kind of blanked out when I took off," Webber said, "and when I landed I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, it stayed up.'"
Webber improved upon her previous best (12-07.00) by 6 inches and earned a Birger Solberg Invite first-place medal in the process.
The Storm junior credited her offseason commitment for her quick start to the season.
"I've been working on getting my plant a lot better, and it was not that much better but a little better, and I got on some bigger poles," Webber said.
Webber highlighted a talent-filled invite with an abundance of impressive Northwest Conference performances, but it was Sehome who dominated the team competition.
The Mariners girls won the team title, while the boys finished second to Lakewood. The Sehome boys earned 89points, Lakewood won with 90 and Black Hills' 49 points were good for third place. The Sehome girls recorded 121 points, Inglemoor placed second with 92.5, Curtis took third with 54 points and Bellingham placed fifth with 43 points.
Sprinter Daniel Ziegler, thrower Drew Norvell and vaulter Blaise Black headlined the Mariners' boys' performances.
Ziegler, who entered the invite seeded fourth, claimed first place in the 100 meter with a season-best 11.18-second dash.
"I was real happy to be able to win it this year," Ziegler said, "because I came in with, I think, the fourth fastest time. I was a little worried at first, but it ended up working pretty good for me. I was just real happy, and my coaches were real happy with how I did today."
Norvell has already enjoyed a strong start to his season with several wins, but he took another step forward Saturday with a personal-best, first-place-worthy throw of 50-05.25 in the shot put. He also placed well in the discus.
"I felt like I performed in shot put today really good," Norvell said, "because I finally threw 50 feet, and I've been trying to do that for a while. ... We have quite a few guys that are throwing really well."
Sprinter Sarah Dolese, distance runner Emily Pittis, hurdler Katrina Dank and both the Mariners' girls' 4x100 and 4x200 teams won first-place medals.
Pitts ran a time of 5 minutes, 6.6 seconds in the 1,600, Dank ran a 48.95 in the 300-meter hurdles, Dolese ran a 26.42 in the 200, Sehome's 4x100 team ran a 50.36 and its 4x200 team ran a 1:47.43.
Dolese, who completed a leg in both of Sehome's winning relays, was locked in tight battles with Bellingham's Alyssa Porter in both the 100 and 200.
A few hours after Porter topped Dolese in the 100 meter with 12.67, the Sehome sprinter edged the Red Raiders senior in the 200.
"I really love running against her," said Dolese of facing Porter. "She's a really cool person and a really tough competitor, so to be able to run day after day and learn from what she's running, it's really special to be able to do that."
Dolese said she was satisfied with her early-season time. Porter was also pleased with her winning 100 time.
And Porter, the defending 100-meter champion, said she doesn't feel pressure this year to repeat.
"For me it's about improving every year, so I don't worry about that," she said. "I worry about my time, and I want to improve every time out. All I worry about is doing the best I can and running a PR, hopefully."
The Lynden Christian girls' team, which placed sixth overall with 40 points, provided one of the most interesting stories of the meet.
The Lyncs won more events than the amount of team members they traveled to Civic Stadium. Hannah Wynstra, Morgan Van Kooten and Hannah Rusnak were LC's only entrants, and the trio won four events.
Freshman speedster Hannah Rusnak followed up on her strong start to her varsity career with wins in the 110 hurdles and the long jump. She topped the field with her 15.58-second time in the hurdles and jumped farther than any other competitor with her leap of 17-00.30.
Van Kooten, who placed second at state last year, took first in the shot put with a throw of 38-05.25, and Wynstra rounded out Lynden Christian's impressive day with a first-place javelin throw of 116-07.
"I really wanted to do well in javelin today, so I was really excited," Wynstra said. "I felt good all week at practice, and it felt good in warmups, so I was really excited I had a good day. ... We had three girls, and all of us got first place in something."
Squalicum's Webber wasn't the only pole vaulter to come up with a strong performance. Madi Krussow improved her PR by 7 inches, clearing the 12-7 mark.
"We have been practicing, and we have this thing where if one of us has a good day, we both should have a good day," Krussow said.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
BIRGER SOLBERG INVITE
At Civic Stadium
Team scores: Lakewood 90, Sehome 89, Black Hills 49, Cascade-Everett 41, Sedro-Woolley 38, Bellarmine Prep 38, Inglemoor 33, Burlington-Edison 33, Archbishop Murphy 30, Curtis 29.5 (T16) Squalicum 21, (18) Blaine 20, (19) Bellingham 19, (20) Ferndale 18, (24) Lummi 8, (27) Mount Baker 2, (28) Lynden Christian 1.
100: Daniel Ziegler (Sehome) 11.18; 200: Isaac Westlund (Archbishop Murphy) 22.65; 400: Isaac Westlund (Archbishop Murphy) 50.43; 800: Gabe Fejeran (Curtis) 1:59.1; 1,600: Devon Grove (Lake Washington) 4:27.0; 3,200: Aaron Bowe (Liberty-Issaquah) 9:27.48; 110 hurdles: Kaleb Dobson (Cascade-Everett) 15.14; 300 hurdles: Andrew Stich (Lakewood) 39.39; 4x100 relay: Lakewood (Cruz Griffin, Tyler Courtney, Brett Bustad, Josh Dickey) 44.29; 4x200 relay: Black Hills (Nicholas Knittle, Dawun Ray, Mark Melendres, Jason Underhill) 1:34.13; 4x400 relay: Marysville-Getchell (Garrett Westover, Antonio Larson, Erik Cisneros, Eugene Marcus) 3:34.03; 4x800 relay: Cedarcrest (Logan Orndorf, Ian Fay, Colton Freen, Quinn Radbourne) 8:39.70; High jump: Jared Sinsheimer (Bellarmine Prep) 6-00.00; Long jump: Jared Sinsheimer (Bellarmine Prep) 21-03.75; Triple jump: Jared Sinsheimer (Bellarmine Prep) 43-07.50; Shot put: Drew Norvell (Sehome) 50-05.25; Discus: Brennan Hamidou (Burlington-Edison) 155-10; Javelin: Nick French (South Whidbey) 177-04; Pole vault: Blaise Black (Sehome) 14-00.00.
BIRGER SOLBERG INVITE
At Civic Stadium
Team scores: Sehome 121, Inglemoor 92.5, Curtis 54, Liberty-Issaquah 45, Bellingham 43, Lynden Christian 40, Lakewood 37, Squalicum 30.5, Lake Washington 37, South Whidbey 26, (14) Mount Baker 20, (21) Blaine 9, (24) Nooksack Valley 7, (29) Ferndale 1.
100: Alyssa Porter (Bellingham) 12.67; 200: Sarah Dolese (Sehome) 26.42; 400: Maya Jackson (Northwest) 1:00.53; 800: Britney Albro (Lakewood) 2:21.1; 1,600: Emily Pittis (Sehome) 5:06.6; 3,200: Amber Rose (Inglemoor) 11:12.6; 110 hurdles: Hannah Rusnak (Lynden Christian) 15.58; 300 hurdles: Katrina Dank (Sehome) 48.95; 4x100 relay: Sehome (Jessa Clark, Elsa Sandeno, Kendra Thomas, Sarah Dolese) 50.36; 4x200 relay: Sehome (Sarah Dolese, Kendra Thomas, Bridget Henry, Elsa Sandeno) 1:47.43; 4x400 relay: Curtis (Adreonia Bradley, Alexandra Rodgers, Anneliese Wegner, Katherine Jackson) 4:12.50; 4x800 relay: Lakewood (Alisa Smith, Darby Throndsen, Chloe McCann, Ruth Rodriguez) 11:05.9; High jump: Kristiane Bartz (Archbishop Murphy) 5-02.00; Long jump: Hannah Rusnak (Lynden Christian) 17-03.00; Triple jump: Anna Richards (Inglemoor) 35-07.25; Shot put: Morgan Van Kooten (Lynden Christian) 38-05.25; Discus: Paris Flenoy (Cascade-Everett) 108-10; Javelin: Hannah Wynstra (Lynden Christian) 116-07; Pole vault: Kirsten Webber (Squalicum) 13-01.00.
Boys' team scores and team champion were changed on April 7 to reflect scoring changes.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.