Track athletes earn strong finishes as season heats up

Blaine’s Dalton Mouw, left, and Alfonso Dermendziev cross the finish line in the 100-meter dash at the Northwest Conference Championships in Bellingham on April 21. Mouw placed third in the event. Photo by Oliver Lazenby.

By Oliver Lazenby

Blaine track and field athletes have notched many season and personal bests in the past few weeks and are looking toward the final meets and post season, which starts May 10.

“It’s been a good season thus far and a lot is about to happen in the weeks ahead,” head coach Carey Bacon said after the Northwest Conference Championship meet last Friday.

At this point in the season, many athletes are dialing in their performances after learning new events. One example is Rani Prasad, who, in her first year throwing the discus and shot put, has been the top Blaine girls’ finisher at recent meets.

Prasad finished second in the shot put and sixth in the discus at the Mountlake Terrace invite in Edmonds on April 15, a competition that included girls from 23 schools. A week later, on April 21 at the conference championships in Bellingham, she took fourth in shot put and ninth in discus.

Prasad, a junior, came to throwing by accident. She competed as a sprinter last year, but injured her knee playing basketball this winter and can no longer sprint.

“It was really great to try something new and when I started getting better I was really pumped,” she said. “I kind of saw me hurting my knee as a blessing in disguise.”

Josie Deming, another newcomer to throwing events and track in general, is improving at javelin and high jump, Bacon said. At the conference championships she placed fifth in high jump and sixth in javelin.

The Blaine boys placed third out of 23 teams on Saturday, April 15 at the Mountlake Terrace Invite in Edmonds, Blaine’s best team finish so far this season.

“Third place as a team definitely wasn’t something that we expected,” said Alfonso Dermendziev, who contributed to Blaine’s performance with fourth-place finishes in both the 100-meter and 400-meter runs. “We’re such a small team, so it was pretty cool getting that.”

Also leading the boys at Mountlake Terrace were Dalton Mouw, who won the 200-meter dash and took second in the 100-meter, and Tucker Jensen, who won the javelin and finished fourth in shot put.

The following week at conference championships, Mouw once again earned some of Blaine’s top finishes, coming in third at 100 meters behind Lynden’s Brandon Swarthout and Anthony Baird, and second at 200 meters behind Swarthout.

“It’s always competitive when you’re running against the guys from Lynden, because they’re so good,” Mouw said. “Going into the season I didn’t think I would do too well in the 100, so it’s been nice getting some good results with it.”

Mouw and Dermendziev, along with Isaiah Russ and Trevor Freeland, got a season best in the 4×400-meter relay with a time of 3:34.97 at Mountlake Terrace. That team is hoping to make it to state.

Mouw, Dermendziev and Russ went to state in the 4×400-meter last year, along with Anthony Frey, who graduated. Freeland’s transition to the event will be crucial to Blaine’s success in the post-season.

“Hopefully I can get a little faster. Alfonso and Dalton, their times are really good. Isaiah and I are not as fast but we’re working on it,” Freeland said.

Russ’ health could be another deciding factor for the 4×400-meter team. He has battled shin splints and bad hip flexors for most of the season, but said at the conference championships on April 21 that he’s feeling better.

“I just got back in the groove of things two or three weeks ago,” he said. “I still have a way to go with my injuries.”

The 4×400 team is behind last year’s pace, but not by much. At the 2016 Northwest Conference Championship’s the boys’ 4×400 team finished in third with a time of 3.33.43, a second and a half faster than the 2017 team’s season best.

The Blaine track team’s final home meet of the season is Wednesday, May 3, against Mount Baker, Nooksack Valley and Sedro-Woolley. The post season starts with sub-districts on May 10 at Civic Stadium in Bellingham.

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