Track athletes work to qualify for state

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Ariyana Vander Veen prepares to grab the baton from Ayanna Holguin in the 4×200-meter relay. Photo by Oliver Lazenby

By Oliver Lazenby

Postseason is underway for track and field, and several Blaine athletes have a shot at qualifying for the state tournament at the end of the month.

Eleven athletes are competing this week in the 2A Northwest Conference district tournament at Shoreline Stadium, the qualifying event for the state tournament. The tournament started Wednesday, May 17, and the second and final day is Friday, May 19.

Track and field athletes generally improve throughout the season as they build fitness and fine-tune technique. Several Blaine athletes beat personal records last week in the 2A Northwest Conference sub-district tournament at Civic Field in Bellingham, the qualifying event for this week’s district tournament.

The boys’ 4×400-meter relay team crushed its former best time by more than six seconds, finishing at 3.27.09 seconds for second place.

“That’s significant for this race,” said Blaine head coach Carey Bacon. “It’s partly the post-season, partly the training, where, at the end of the year, things are tapered and so their legs get some rest, and partly motivation.”

Dalton Mouw ran for a personal record in the 200-meter, crossing the finish line in 22.21 seconds. Isaiah Russ bested his previous record in the 400-meter with a time of 52.75 seconds. They’re both competing in the district tournament for those events.

Mouw and Russ are on the boys’ 4×400-meter relay team, which also includes Alfonso Dermendziev and Anthony Frey. The four also compete together in the 4×100-meter race last week.

The team has a shot at going to the state tournament in the 4×400-meter race, so they’ll sit out the district 4×100 competition to save their legs for their better event, Bacon said.

While not a personal record, Ariyana Vander Veen’s second place time of 1:02.17 seconds in the 400-meter at subdistricts was one of her best showings. She’s running the 400-meter this week in districts.

The girls’ relay team, which includes Vander Veen, Ayanna Holguin, Ashley Dickerson and Rani Prasad are competing in both the 4×100- and 4×400-meter events.

Other Blaine athletes competing this week are Ben Fletcher and Nicholas Pearson in long jump, and Tucker Jensen in shot put.

Blaine’s track and field team is relatively young this year. That, along with the fact that it’s the smallest school in 2A competition, will make advancing to the state tournament a challenge for the athletes.

“We are young but we are also getting better and gaining confidence,” Bacon said. “There have been a few disappointments, but the majority of athletes who we thought would be competitive with chances to get to state are doing just that.”

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