Just about any other track and field program in the state would likely be jumping around for joy at the prospects of finishing within two points of a team title at the state championship meet.
But the Sehome girls’ track and field team isn’t like most other programs in the state.
The Mariners have a tradition of bringing the big trophy home to Whatcom County. In fact, entering this year, Sehome had won Class 2A team titles in four of the previous five years — the only aberration coming in 2012, when it lost by two points to North Kitsap.
Add another two-point second-place finish to that list. This time it was Northwest District foe Shorecrest that edged the Mariners 57-55 on Saturday, May 30, at Mount Tahoma High School.
But as much as Sehome would have liked to have claimed another championship, some how scoming away with second somehow seems like a win.
“Our goal obviously is to win it, and we had a shot at it,” Sehome co-coach Kevin Ryan said. “The state meet is a roller coaster. We had a lot of great performances. The impressive thing is, yeah, we just barely missed. We can sit there and nit pick things and say we could have got a point here and a point there and a half inch there and two hundredths of a second there. At the same time, the way things were going the first day and half, it would have been real easy to go the other direction.”
The reason it didn’t, Ryan said, was leadership the team got from its three stalwart seniors — Emily Pittis, Chanelle Eddy and Bridget Henry.
“When things weren’t going our way yesterday, you saw Channelle bounce back with a big second place in the shot, PRing to do it,” Ryan said. “Then you saw Emily come back today when we really needed the points, and she put the hammer down in the 3,200. ... Bridget came back after a bad hand off in the 4x2. She kept us in it, because she caught a Shorecrest girl at the end, which was a two-point swing, which kept us in the team title race at that time.”
Henry also was part of Sehome’s winning 4x400 relay team, which along with Pittis’ win in the 3,200 meters, gave the Mariners two state titles on Saturday.
Sehome was not the only Whatcom County team to have a strong showing on Saturday, as Bellingham finished one point off the podium in fifth with 41 points, Lynden tied for seventh with 27, Blaine was ninth with 26 and Squalicum rounded out the top 10 with 24. Ferndale finished tied for 33rd in the Class 3A team standings with four points.
The Red Raiders had a pair of state champions, as their 4x200 relay team started the day off with a narrow win, and Mia Hodges added another in the 400.
Squalicum made it a clean sweep of the relays for Whatcom County, edging Bellingham for the title in the 4x100 and giving the city schools a total of five girls’ titles on Saturday.
If ever there was a time when the County’s dominance on the girls’ side showed, it was in the final 2A event of the day, when Sehome, Lynden and Bellingham ran away from the field to finish 1-2-3 in the 4x400 relay.
“I know we all work hard,” said Lauren Zwiers, who ran the leadoff leg for Lynden in the race. “They’re all our competition. We know each other. We talk to each other. We get along pretty well, and we push each other.”
And many of those athletes who push each other will be back again next year.
Though Sehome will lose Henry and Elsa Sandeno off its state championship 4x400 relay, Dana Ringer and Katrina Dank are both expected back after the team turned in a winning time of three minutes, 57.45 seconds on Saturday.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Dank said of the win. “Last year in prelims, we barely got first by .001 of a second so it was disappointing to get fifth overall. This year we’ve put in so much work all through the offseason. It’s amazing to see all the work pay off.”
Pittis has certainly put in her share of work over the past four years, as her time of 10:57.09 earned her a third straight state title in the 3,200 in her final run for the Mariners.
Though the run was more “emotional” than she expected, she was pleased to finish on a high note and even more pleased to share the track with sophomore teammate Abby Johnson, who came on strong to finish seventh in 11:24.31.
“It started on Thursday when I ran my first race ever in the mile,” Johnson said of her run. “I just kind of panicked. I decided I was going to do the opposite of what I did then. Instead of freaking out and going with the leaders, Kevin and I decided I should sit back and wait to see what everyone does, because there are girls I run with there all the time that I know I can get at the end.”
The Mariners’ Ilana Pechthalt, Dank, Sandeno and Henry placed fifth in the 4x200 relay in 1:46.23, while Pechthalt, Sandeno, Henry and Genevieve Wallace took eighth in the 4x100 in 51.27 seconds.
Chanelle Eddy rounded out Sehome’s scoring Saturday with a third-place finish in the discus with a throw of 113 feet, 2 inches.
“They weren't my best throws,” Eddy said. “I was kind of disappointed throughout prelims and throughout the finals with just how it was going. But I was really happy to just push it on the last one and get a good number.”
Bellingham’s day was obviously highlighted by Emma Brice, Hannah Bradley, Hattie North and Hodges’ win in the 4x200 in 1:43.63 and Hodges’ win in the 400 in the 58.01 seconds.
Bradley took eighth individually in the 100 meters in 12.97 seconds.
“It definitely wasn’t my best, but I came here to compete, and that’s what I did,” Bradley said. “It’s not as fast as my prelims, but I got to the finals, and that’s what I came here to do.”
Bradley also paired with Brice, Annie Waddell and North to claim second in the 4x100 relay, just 11 hundredths of a second behind Squalicum in 49.24, and with Brice, North and Waddell to place third in the 4x400 in 4:01.51.
Lynden’s ability to come back and beat the Red Raiders on the final leg of the 4x400 was definitely the highlight of the day for the Lions. Zwiers, Jasmyne Neria, Cassidee Barclay and Lily Bogart finished in 4:00.82.
“I saw them in front of me,” said Bogart, who ran the all-important anchor leg for Lynden. “I was just really determined. Me and my team have been striving for excellence from the start, and we worked our butts off to get here, and I didn’t want to let them down. So I did what I could and ran as fast as I could.”
The Lions also got a pair of third-place finishes from Alexa Shindruk in the 3,200 and Jasmyne Neria in the 400.
“It was my senior season, so I obviously wanted to go as far as I could,” said Shindruk, who finished in 11:15.03. “I really wanted to make it all the way to Saturday so I’d be able to run the last possible day. That was really exciting when I got fourth at districts and won districts in the two mile.”
Neira was happy to improve upon her sixth-place finish from a year ago in the 400, as she turned in a time of 58.59.
“I was really proud of myself — I wanted to get higher on the podium, and I did,” Neira said.
Zwiers, Bogart, Barclay and Neira also combined to place fourth in the 4x200 relay in 1:45.00.
Blaine’s day was highlighted by a second-place finish by Hillary Kiele with a time of 2:19.04.
“I was stuck most of the race, especially on the last lap and on the final corner, so I had to make my move on the straight away,” Kiele said. “I had to give it all I could on the last 100.”
Elle Moore also placed fourth in the discus with a throw of 112-9 — more than 21/2 feet better than her previous personal best.
Squalicum’s Kim Hazlett joined with Jessica DeVere, pole vault champion Kirsten Webber and Julia DeVere to win the 4x100 relay by edging Bellingham with a time of 49.13 seconds and then placed fifth in the 200 with a time of 26.08 seconds.
“I’m happy with it,” said the junior, who came back to track after a year off. “It was good. It was fun to be able to compete in more than one event.”
Ferndale’s Paige Devine also had a strong fifth-place showing in the 3A 300 hurdles, turning in a time of 45.78 seconds.
“I started off with a good start,” Devine said. “Then once we got to the corner, I started to mess up my steps, because I saw everyone going really fast in front of me. Once I get to the straightaway, usually is when I start picking it up. I got fifth place, which I’m pretty proud of, because I’m a freshman.”
And really, that’s pretty much how most everybody from Whatcom County seemed to feel after Saturday.
“Our kids and our coaches they all came in ready to give it their very best,” Bellingham coach Bill McClement said. “I think we all feel good about that effort. ... I think all the kids grew from the experience.”