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Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune | MAY 30, 2013

SPORTS Speiker’s state title leads the way for Hornets By Brent Baker

Grunst named WIAA athlete of the week

CHENEY - The weight of high expectations can sometimes catch a runner with more ease than any human competitor. Oroville’s Sierra Speiker, a heavy favorite to win the Class 2B state 3200-meter title, felt that weight and decided to leave nothing to chance. The Hornet junior, winner of two of the last three state cross country titles, won her first track championship Friday, May 24, at Eastern Washington University to lead five Oroville athletes that brought home six state medals. “It was a great state meet with many incredible athletes,” said Oroville coach Harold Jensen. “Many records were broken in all classifications. “I was pleased that our athletes were part of this festival. Overall we performed very well and came away with medals where we expected.” The Hornet girls finished 17th in the team scoring, which was tightly bunched after the first three spots.

Winning it all Speiker put the rest of the field behind her in the 3200, effectively knocking the remainder of her competitors out of contention before the first lap of the eight-lap race was complete. Staying ahead of those expectations, that was the challenge. “It was kind of hard,” Speiker said of being the season-long favorite. “People had really high expectations for me. It makes me nervous when someone from ‘below’ comes up. I really just wanted to get out there and go.” Battling 45-degree weather and a biting wind, Speiker took a 50-meter lead after the first lap and managed to extend it for most of the race, winning by 24 seconds of Northwest Christian (Lacey)’s Hailey Bredeson with a time of 11:31.74. Despite the chilly conditions and lack of someone close to pushing her, Speiker came within a second of setting a new personal best. It was a far better run than her sixth place finish of 2012, including a time drop of more than 30 seconds. “It was cold,” she said. “It took me awhile to warm up. “I just really didn’t want anyone to be able to catch up to me. My goal was to get out there and stay there.” Speiker also earned a fifth place finish in the 1600, finishing in 5:27 - faster than last year, but one spot off her 2012 fourth place spot. “I just wanted to get on the medal stand in that,” Speiker said. “I wanted to PR (5:20), but that didn’t happen. I was tired, but (Saturday) was a beautiful day to race.” Bredeson won in 5:20.59 in a photo finish over Anna Henry of Northwest Christian (Colbert). Speiker had also hoped to reach the medal stand in the 800, but her time of 2:32.31 left her less than a half second short of qualifying for the eight-runner final heat. She also anchored the 4x400 relay with

OROVILLE - Kaitlyn Grunst became the fourth Oroville athlete to receive WIAA Athlete of the Week honors in Class 2B for the week of May 13 following her performance at the CWL North Sub-district meet. Grunst received the award after taking first place in all four events in which she competed: the high jump, triple jump, long jump and 4x400 relay. She was the fourth Hornet to receive the award this season, following Sierra Speiker and Luke Kindred in the fall and Lily Hilderbrand in the winter.

Above, it might not be his best event, but at times Saturday it was the coolest-looking as Luke Kindred made state in the pole vault after competing in it for the first year in his high school career. Left, freshman Sammie Walimaki races through the rain in the 200-meter dash in her first state finals experience.

Brent Baker/staff photos

Brittany Jewett, Kaitlyn Grunst and Callie Barker, finishing 11th in 4:34.96. Barker had already run both the 100 and 300 hurdles prelims and Grunst had already competed in the triple jump, leaving Jewett with the only fresh pair of legs among the quartet. Speiker, who has always preferred cross country to track, will now return her focus to trail running and preparing for defending her state cross title. “I’ll take a week off, then get back into it,” she said. “I like to run the Whistler Canyon Trail and run up to the Hot Lakes above the (Oroville) golf course. “I definitely like the trails.”

Bringing home the hardware Speiker was far from the only Hornet to bring home a state medal. Also doing so were Luke Kindred in the javelin (5th place, 152-6), Kaitlyn Grunst in the high jump (6th, 5-0); Breanna Ervin in the pole vault (7th-tie, 7-0) and Tanner Smith in the 100 (8th, 12.03). Sammie Walimaki, a late addition to the field as an alternate, finished 13th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 29.18.

Barker competed in the 100 hurdles (16th, 20.36) and 300 hurdles (16th, 54.77). Kindred was less than pleased with his fifth place finish in javelin. He’d been attempting to reach the 160-foot mark all season, which in this year’s field would have made him a state title contender. “I was really disappointed,” he said. “I threw so great in warm-ups the other day. I was shooting for a lot higher, and it just didn’t happen.” Most of his throws hit in the 135-foot range, but he had things clicking on his next-to-last toss that got him his 152-6 measurement. “That one felt pretty good - I was just shooting for my PR at that point,” Kindred said. “It felt great, but it looked like it was going to be terrible (while in the air). So when I heard 152, I was pretty happy.” Strange things happen at state, he acknowledged, especially after watching friend and competitor Mikey Michael of Liberty Bell finish 15th. Michael had beaten Kindred at the regional meet last week. “That was tough,” he said. “I felt really

bad for him. So yeah, it could have been a lot worse. “I was just disappointed I didn’t perform as well as I wanted. But I’ll come back next year, hopefully to win the whole thing. It’ll be good; it’ll be fun.” Kindred also competed in the pole vault, clearing 10 feet and finishing 14th. “I pretty much accomplished what I wanted to there,” he said. “It was just my fifth meet doing pole vault, so I was just happy to find out what state is like.” Grunst, in addition to running a leg of the 4x400 relay, earned a sixth place medal in the high jump and competed in the long jump and triple jump. “I felt pretty good about the high jump,” she said, after hitting 5-0 without any misses before bowing out at 5-2. “Some of those girls were pretty amazing today. I wanted the gold, and I wanted to medal in the long jump.” She didn’t quite medal there - she hit 15-5.5 and advanced to the finals, but was passed up by a couple of girls in the final round of jumping and finished 10th. Grunst leapt 30-5.5 in the triple jump to place 11th.

The triple jump, I was pretty much happy just to be in it,” she said. “In the relay, I thought we did OK, but the competition was pretty tough.” Ervin’s seventh place finish in the pole vault was not something she’d seen coming, even if her jump of 7-0 wasn’t what she’d been shooting for. “I just wanted to try to get to 7-6,” she said. “I wasn’t happy not to get it, but the medal is great.” She actually finished in a four-way tie for seventh, earning the team three-quarters of a point. But she was so surprised at having earned a medal that when the call was made to honor medalists on the podium, she was at the top of the stands with her teammates and nearly didn’t make it in time for podium pictures. “I ran down and they wouldn’t let me on the track -- I had to run all the way around (to the furthest entrance point) to get my picture. I’m glad I made it. “I didn’t do as well as I wanted, but I’m really happy with a medal. And I almost got a full point, too.” Smith, who finished fifth in the opening heat of the 100 on Friday, was surprised just to make it to the final. His heat had been the deeper of the two, so his 11.5 was actually the fifth-fastest time heading into the final. Smith went out fast in the championship heat but faded to eighth over the final strides. Winning the race was James Thompkins of Waitsburg-Prescott, who terrorized Smith and the Hornets during their state football playoff contest last fall. “It felt good to be up there (on the medal podium),” Smith said. “I was really surprised that I got through to today. “My start felt really good. I was happy with that, but I just died in the final stretch. And Thompkins, he’s just really fast.” Smith also competed in the 200, but didn’t advance to the final heat and finished 13th overall (24.99). Kindred and Smith were both already looking forward to football season, in which a senior-laden Hornet team will have some high expectations of their own. “I’m so excited about football,” Smith said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Mills nabs 5th, 4x400 relay team 10th at 1A state By Brent Baker

CHENEY - The state 1A track and field finals proved to be a weekend to remember for the small group of Tonasket athletes that earned the right to be there. Emily Mills, Kylie Dellinger, Cassie Spear and Rose Walts went up against the state’s best on Friday and Saturday, May 24-25 at Eastern Washington University. The four of them combined for a 10th place finish in the 4x400 relay, while Mills also ran the open 400 and brought home a fifth place medal. “The relay ran a good race,” said Tonasket coach Bob Thornton. “It was the second fastest time they had run all season. It’s quite an accomplishment to be the 10th best team in the state. “Emily had a good meet (too). She ran a great race in the finals; it was her third in two days and she left it all on the track.” Mills had hoped to break into the top four and push her time under the minute mark. Neither quite happened, though she felt a great sense of relief just to get through to the finals. Despite running a personal best of 1:00.24 in the preliminary heat, that was good for only fourth in the heat as two girls broke the minute mark and a third was within hundredths of a second of it. The top three from each heat advanced the finals, as well as the top two additional times, and Mills had one of those. “I was really surprised I made it (to the finals),” Mills said. “I really wanted to get to 59 seconds, and today I was hoping for fourth place.” Neither one of those quite happened. But the seventh-seeded Mills, running in the outside lane, finished fifth in 1:00.61. She beat

Above left, Tonasket’s Rose Walts (left) takes the hand-off from Emily Mills to start the second leg of the 4x400 relay at the state finals in Cheney last weekend; below left, Cassie Spear rounds the curve on the third leg of the relay; below right, Kylie Dellinger battled shin splints while finishing off the event for the Tigers. Above, Emily Mills shows off her state medal after finishing fifth in the 400-meter run.

Brent Baker/staff photos

her seeding by two spots and also edged past one of the girls she’d lost to in the preliminary. “I think state makes you get closer to God,” she said. “It did for

me. I was praying that whole 60 seconds that He would help me keep running faster.” Mills also led off the 4x400, which at regionals had set a

school record and beaten its previous best time by 10 seconds. It would have taken another PR to get through to the finals, which didn’t quite happen. Mills, Spear,

Walts and Dellinger finished fifth in their heat and 10th overall with a time of 4:14.81. Probably costing both the Tigers (as well as some other teams)

was negotiating the congestion in the hand-off zones. The state meet, with so many teams so close together, offers much more of that than at most meets throughout the season, and several of Tonasket’s hand-offs were delayed in the tangle of fast-moving bodies. “State was something to remember,” said Dellinger, who anchored the relay despite running with shin splints. “It was unforgettable. There is so much talent there, it makes me feel good about making it. Running with the other teams gave me confidence!” As it turned out, the Tigers would have needed a new PR to have gotten to the finals as the seventh and eighth-seeded teams each ran 4:11 in the preliminaries. All of the state-qualifying Tigers are eligible to return next year, though Mills is planning on graduating early.

State 1A notes: The Caribou Trail League claimed three state titles and a solid number of medalists. State champions included Cashmere’s Angela Knishka in the 800, Karle Pittsinger of Chelan in the shot put and Kara Staggs of Okanogan in the javelin. A typical performance by Tonasket’s Ethan Bensing in the triple jump would indeed have put him on the medal stand at state - if he’d not been stuck behind three state medalists and unable to claim one of the region’s three state qualifying spots. His regional jump of 40-8.5 would have placed him seventh had he equaled that at state. If he’d matched his PR of 41-11, it would have been good for third. That, of course, is just speculation. The WIAA’s qualifying system precluded the attempt from being made at all.

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