Five events into the Northwest Conference Championships, Lynden Christian sophomore Hannah Rusnak already had accomplished what only a select few did the rest of the meet.
After winning the 100 hurdles, the Class 1A defending 100 hurdle state champion, waited for the boys to run the 100-meter dash and then went out and added her second first-place medal in the girls’ 100. In less than 20 minutes, Rusnak declared herself the best in the NWC, twice.
Pretty impressive for an athlete who was unsure how she’d compete.
“It was an OK race, I guess,” said Rusnak of her 15.55-second hurdle finish. “I’m coming back from a cold. It was kind of hard, but it was good. ... I just wanted to try my best because of the whole cold thing. I didn’t know how I was going to do.”
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Turns out very well, as Rusnak added a third NWC title later in the meet with a long jump title.
It was a multi-event-winning kind of day for several of the league’s top track and field stars Friday, April 24, at Civic Stadium.
Besides Rusnak, Sehome’s Bridget Henry (high jump, 200 meters) and Chanelle Eddy (discus, shot put) and Ferndale’s Daniel Jones (100, 200) and Roberto Aguilera (1,600, 3,200) also claimed more than one gold medal in individual events.
Both the Sehome boys’ and girls’ track teams showed their dominance, sweeping both NWC team titles.
The Mariners boys won with 124 points, Lynden took second with 108, Meridian was third with 78, Bellingham took fourth with 75 and Sedro-Woolley rounded out the top five with 64 points. The following teams were Ferndale (54.5), Squalicum (35), Burlington-Edison (33), Lynden Christian (26), Blaine (26), Nooksack Valley (14.5), Anacortes (13) and Mount Baker (12).
The Sehome girls scored 135 points, Burlington-Edison was second with 85.5, Bellingham followed with 68, LC was fourth with 61 and Squalicum’s 59.5 points was good for fifth. After the Storm was Meridian (57), Lynden (56), Blaine (55.5), Ferndale (32.5), Anacortes (27), Sedro-Woolley (26.5), Nooksack Valley (22.5) and Mount Baker (16).
A few of the county’s top athletes were noticeably absent for the NWC Championships, but others stepped up in their place.
Distance runner Abby Johnson was one of those, and the up-and-coming sophomore distance runner performed tremendously in place of Mariners standout Emily Pittis.
Not only did Johnson hold off Lynden’s Alexa Shindruk, who won the 3,200, her finishing time of 5:14.90 broke her old personal best by nearly 10 seconds.
“I had the goal of going under 5:20 for a little while, and I’ve been working hard on that this season,” said Johnson, who is determined to qualify for state this spring after missing out by one place at last year’s district meet. “I knew this was a good chance, because I was running with some really good girls, like Alexa from Lynden.”
Johnson said not having Pittis put new, added weight on her shoulders to perform well for Sehome.
“It was definitely different running not looking at (Pittis’) back,” Johnson joked, “but I missed her out there, but I’ll be happy to tell her how I did.”
Aguilera looked strong in both the boys’ distance races, sweeping the 1,600 and 3,200.
He held off a talented mile field that included Anacortes’ Dylan Holland and Meridian’s Collin Magnusson, and the Golden Eagles junior cruised to a win in the 2 mile, winning by roughly 100 meters.
“The mile, I felt all right,” Aguilera said. “I felt a little better when I got 4:18 before, but today at least I got 4:18, so that is a good thing. ... My goal right now is trying to go to state, because last year I was sixth at districts, and it was just a tough day for me. I have been fully prepared this whole season.”
While Aguilera is in the midst of prepping for his first state berth, two-time state champion pole vaulter Kirsten Webber earned the big breakthrough she’s been working toward this first half of the spring.
Webber, who entering Friday’s meet had posted the fifth best height in the state by clearing 12 feet, 7 inches but has a career personal best of 13-04, hadn’t been able to clear the 13-foot barrier. Between the weather and the poles, she hadn’t been able to get 13.
She needed only one attempt this time.
“It’s very satisfying,” said Webber, who easily took first place. “I’ve been so close. I almost had it last weekend. ... Now I’m ready to get 13-07, and that would be a new state record.”
By clearing 13, Webber vaulted herself into a tie for third among the state’s top vaulters in any classification.
In throws, Sehome’s Drew Norvell impressed in the shot put with a mark that surpassed the previous top mark he owned in Class 2A. One of the day’s best finishes occurred in the boys’ 400-meter run, when Lynden’s Trent Postma outlasted Meridian’s Nick Miller in the race’s final 20 meters.
Individual results were not made available by press time.