TACOMA - The scary thing to think about is what Squalicum junior Chais Sugden could have done with a full year running the 800.
In only his fourth time running an event final in the 800 this year, Sugden ran away from the field and then held on to claim a Class 2A state title in the event and highlighting the day for Whatcom County at the Boys' Track and Field State Championships Saturday, May 31, at Mount Tahoma High School.
"I was pretty nervous," Sugden said of his run.
And who could blame him, especially considering he was going up against the best in the state before the biggest crowd and having competed in the event only three times previously this year?
Sugden said he missed a couple of meets earlier this year after a family vacation put him behind in his schoolwork.
But his results had been pretty good the three previous times he ran the 800, though. He grabbed a win at an April 30 weekday meet at Civic Stadium, finished second at the sub-district meet and won the bi-district title. Not surprisingly, he ran personal bests at the sub-district and bi-district meets - a feat he continued on Saturday.
And then came Saturday, when he ran a gutsy race, leading from start to finish.
"I had a lot of adrenaline going through me, so I took it out fast," Sugden said. "Once I was ahead of all the guys I thought were going to be faster than me from the start, I just decided I've got to keep the lead, so the rest of the race was just me pushing as hard as I could."
He needed to push it hard all the way, as Spokane East Valley's Casey Pedersen came charging back the final 100 yards, but Sugden managed to hold him off by four tenths of a second, winning with a time of 1:54.53.
"I pushed my body to the limit and it worked out at the end," Sugden said.
Sehome managed to finish on the team podium by placing fourth with 36 points, behind champion Olympic (52 points), East Valley and River Ridge.
"For them it's about perseverance and no quit," Mariners coach Kevin Ryan said. "Starting the year, we had big aspirations we might be in position to win the thing, but some injuries kept us out of that, but these guys never quit."
Daniel Ziegler wrapped up his high school track and field career with a fifth-place finish in the 200 meters with a time of 22.54 seconds.
Earlier in the day, he placed third in the 100 in 10.89 seconds.
"I'm happy to have bumped up from fourth last year," Ziegler said. "The two guys in front on me were just insane. It felt good to be able to compete with them. I would have liked to have been able to win this championship, but I'm happy to be in the 10.8s and improve and take third."
Teammate Trevor Northrop placed sixth in the 800 with a time of 1:56.80, even though he admits he may not have been prepared to run his best.
"It's my first time in state," said Northrop, who plans to run track and cross country at Allegheny College next year. "I was really nervous to be honest. I've been pretty comfortable all year; I felt like I've mastered the relaxed first lap. ... Only being my second year of track, I feel like I've exceeded my expectations already, but I felt like I probably could have pushed it a little bit harder."
Drew Norvell, who placed third in the shot put on Friday, also said he was looking for just a little more, even though he matched his seed by placing seventh in the discus with a throw of 148 feet, 4 inches. But he said it's something he hopes to learn from for next year.
"It's really neat to have the best competition in the state and see where you land," Norvell said. "(Next year) I want to win in shot and try to do the same in disc."
Sugden's wins helped Squalicum place seventh with 25 team points.
Joel Jensen picked up some points for the Storm with his sixth-place finish in the discus with a throw of 151-5.
Bellingham tied for 16th with 14 points.
Jamie Sayegh placed eighth in the 400 for the Red Raiders with a personal-best time of 51.25 seconds.
"Beginning of this season, I didn't know if I was going to make it to state, and here I am in the finals," Sayegh said. "It's a little bit mind blowing. I'm happy for the chance to be here. The hard work really paid off."
Sayegh also joined with Jacob Stahl, Simon Maguire and Tristan Hurley to lead the Bellingham 4x400 relay team to a fourth-place finish with a time of 3:27.64.
It was hard to miss the team that finished one spot ahead of them, as the Lynden's Jordan Thompson, Bryce Sterk, Thomas Swinford and Trent Postma all donned eye black for the race.
"We just wanted to do something weird and different," Postma said.
They showed they were worthy of wearing the black by working their way back up from fifth place at the first exchange to challenge for second on the final leg. They ended up running a 3:26.11 to place third, which was particularly rewarding for Postma, who missed out on qualifying for the open 400.
"It feels awesome running with a team," Postma said. "My open 4, I was a little disappointed. We came out here today and performed pretty good, so I'm pretty happy."
Qualifying was a whole lot kinder to Sterk in the 300 hurdles, even though he was the eighth fastest runner. That put him on the inside lane, a place most runners don't care for, but Sterk found to his liking, as he placed sixth Saturday in 39.97 seconds.
"I felt good coming over those hurdles," Sterk said. "Right at the corner is where it helped being in lane 1. I got the shortest corner, and I like cooking it around there."
His run helped the Lions place 27th with nine points.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.