Sehome girls' track wins fourth title in five years

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 31, 2014 

TACOMA - Sehome's Sarah Dolese didn't win a 200-meter title. Emily Pittis didn't set a new 3,200 state-meet record. But the sacrifices those two Mariners, in particular, made during three days at Mount Tahoma High School birthed something far more gratifying.

Sehome displayed fully its team-first mentality, and because of it captured its fourth Class 2A state championship in the past five seasons.

"It's our mantra, but we come into this with a mindset of a team, and we have athletes sacrifice some of their own individual pursuits and glory for what's best for us to get the most points." Mariners co-coach Kevin Ryan said. "That's why we've succeeded the last two years."

Never was that theme more evident than with Pittis and Dolese. Instead of focusing only on the 1,600 and 3,200, Pittis decided to compete in the 800 on the same day she was scheduled to defend her 3,200 title just so she could earn more team points. Dolese brushed myriad nagging injuries aside, demanding she couple both her open events with two relays to give her an eight-race weekend.

Dolese placed second in her 200 with a 24.98 PR, losing only by two-hundredths of a second, but her eight points sealed the Mariners state title.

"I think everybody is used to performing and peaking right here," Dolese said. "Last year my 200 made us win it, so it's kind of cool to be that race to set it in stone, and everybody is pumped."

The Mariners scored 70.5 points, mostly coming from Dolese, Pittis, hurdler Katrina Dank, thrower Chanelle Eddy and their relays. Tumwater finished second with 62 points, Bellingham had a strong meet, placing third with 45 points and East Valley-Spokane rounded out the top four with 39 points on the final day of the Class 2A-3A-4A State Track and Field Championships Saturday, May 31.

Squalicum finished in ninth place, earning 24 points, and Lynden's 17 points put the Lions in 12th place.

Of all the Mariners, Dolese came away with the largest medal haul, ending her final state meet with a state championship in the 4x200 relay, a second-place medal in both the 200 and 4x100 relay and a third-place medal in the 100 meters.

Pittis scored key points with a second-place finish in the 1,600, a sixth-place finish in the 800 and her second straight state championship in the 3,200 with a 10:59.81.

Ryan detailed just how gutsy both Pittis and Dolese were during the weekend and how they at all costs put the team first.

"I mean, she doesn't run a triple, she is setting a new meet record in the 2 mile," Ryan said of Pittis.

And Dolese: "She's not feeling great," he said. "She's got all these aches and pains and yet she's still demanding to be on both relays and both individuals. She loses the 200, her last event by two-hundredths. If she drops one of those other events, maybe she wins."

Several others had their hands in Sehome's state title.

Katrina Dank finished third in the 300 low hurdles in her first state meet, finishing with a time of 46.34 after struggling in prelims. She used her strong kick from running the 400 meters to advance a few places during the races final 50 meters.

"I always love the last 100 meters, because that's where I'm the strongest," Dank said.

Sehome got a strong start to its championship Saturday with a close win over Bellingham in the 4x200 relay. Dolese, who ran the anchor leg, barley edged in front of Bellingham's Alyssa Porter to seal the win. The Mariners received great contributions during the race from Elsa Sandeno, Kendra Thomas and Bridget Henry.

The title was the Mariners' fourth in as many years running the event.

"Our 4x2 has been one of the most coveted spots, because it usually has a really good shot at state," Sandeno said. "It's really fun to be on it. ... Since we've won the last couple of years, it's a little more stressful to be on it, because you have to carry on the legacy."

Sehome thrower Chanelle Eddy also added some key points, finishing with a sixth-place medal in the discus and a new PR of 108 feet, 8 inches to go with her fifth-place shot put finish on Friday.

"We all competed as hard as we could, and we gave it our all," said Eddy of the Mariners' throwing crew. "All of us went to finals, and that was really special. I was happy to get a season PR at the state meet."

The Mariners 4x100 and 4x400 also earned points, finishing second and fifth, respectively, in those events.

"There's a lot of great things down here at this meet," Ryan said. "Unfortunately you also see a lot of me-first stuff and for our girls to fully embrace it and not even question it, 'What's the best thing to do for the team? OK, that's what I'll do.' It really drives them."

Sehome wasn't the only city school with a strong state showing. Bellingham's girls again earned a trophy with several strong performances, especially on the track.

The Red Raiders won the 4x100 relay for the third consecutive year, Mia Hodges finished fourth in the 400 meters a year removed from placing fourth in the 800 meters, and Porter ended her Bellingham career in impressive fashion with a state titles in the 100, 4x1, a second-place finish in the 4x200 and a fourth-place medal in the 200.

Relay standout Mary Dyrland, who was ran the third leg in Bellingham's state-title relay team, said earning a team trophy showed how close-knit the Red Raiders are.

"I think it's really special, because we are so close and we really do work as a team, and winning a team award really shows how much effort we put in and how close we are," Dyrland said. "Winning a team award is really cool."

Porter scored 15 of the Red Raiders' 45 team points in both her open events and again showed she's the fastest girl in all of Class 2A.

The Bellingham senior ran a wind-aided state record time during the 100-meter prelims, and with wind blowing against her Saturday, she still successfully defended her title with a 12.28. Dolese filed in third with a 12.53.

"For me it was just about running the best I could and the fastest time I could do," Porter said. "It's been a battle. You got great runners out here running with you that are pushing you to run super fast, and so it's really a big honor to come out and get to be a part of this."

Moments after Porter's 100, she aided Bellingham's 4x100 relay team, helping them continue its reign of dominance.

Annie Waddell led off the race before passing the baton to Porter, who picked off at least four sprinters ahead of her before passing off to Dyrland. Dyrland ran her coveted corner well, and Hodges raced home for a 48.59 winning time.

"It's my second year running the 4x1 on the first leg, and I'm comfortable and love running with my team," Waddell said. "Running that corner is just like natural, and I love running it. We could not be happier with it, because we left it all out there."

Hodges contributed points in the 400, running a strong 48.56, and she later helped the Red Raiders' 4x400 relay team of Emma Brice, Hattie North, herself and Katie Linton place fourth with a 4:02.65.

"It's always fun to compete like that, and all these girls are so strong," Hodges said of the 400. "It was very different (changing from 800 to 400), but I really enjoyed this past year a lot, and it was a personal success for me so it felt good."

Lynden also had several placers Saturday led by freshman Jasmyne Neria's fifth-place finish in the 400. She ran a 58.47, finishing just behind season rival Hodges.

"I felt like I did my best and ran my own race," Neria said. "I knew these girls were going to give it their all, and I just did mine. I was really close when 50 meters came, and I just ran."

Lynden qualified two of its three relays for the finals. The Lions' 4x200 of Lauren Zwires, Neria, Hailey DiLorenzo and Kat Webb took seventh with a 1:46.40, and Lynden's 4x400 team of DiLorenzo, Zwires, Milstead and Neria took sixth with a 4:06.52.

Reach Andrew Lang at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.

Reach ANDREW LANG at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call ext. 862.

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