With a deep, talented field competing at the Birger Solberg Invitational, up-and-comers found breaking through hard to do, but some of the more established Whatcom County athletes found success Saturday, April 9, at Civic Stadium.
But with accomplishment comes expectation, and while Bellingham’s Jakob Chamberlin, Mount Baker’s Natalie Smith and Sehome’s Colton Johnsen each won events, they came away from the Invite with some material to work on in the future.
Chamberlin, who’s the defending Class 2A discus state champion, won the event with a throw of 171 feet, 9 inches in a field loaded with Whatcom County talent. He also took second in the shot put, placing behind Sehome’s Ben Malquist.
“I had a good day,” said Chamberlin, who posted a personal record of 181-01 more than a week ago. “It wasn’t a PR, but still a good day. My best throw was a 175 in prelims. We were trying to work out some stuff during finals to try to throw a deeper throw, but I’ll be back at practice next week.”
Smith and Johnsen both had exciting finishes to their races.
Smith, the defending Class 1A 800-meter state champion, had a recreation of sorts of last year’s state title run. She was running neck-in-neck with South Whidbey’s Elizabeth Donnelley, who finished runner-up to Smith last season.
This time Donnelley led less than 200 meters to go, but Smith chased her down and won the event with a time of 2 minutes, 22.84 seconds. Still, the time wasn’t quite what the Baker senior was hoping it would be.
“I was hoping to get a faster time,” Smith admitted. “I felt fast, but I still have some work to do to get to the speed I want. ... When the girl passed me on the second to last corner, I stayed relaxed. I knew I could probably re-pass her.”
Johnsen also needed a strong kick to win his 3,200-meter race.
He trailed by at least five stride lengths with a little more than a 100 meters to go when Johnsen turned it on and dashed past a Ballard runner who led.
“I was supposed to go for a time, but I was feeling down, so I just went for the place,” Johnsen said. “It was nice to have the competition after it went out slow, so we could pick it up a bit.
Complete results from the Birger Solberg Invitational were not available by press time.