Blaine sprinter Cherish Morrison clears a turn during a race at the 2A district track meet championship in Bellingham on Friday, May 20. Morrison won first place. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz
For the Blaine track teams there was no shortage of drama and surprises on the first day of the 2A Northwest district track meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, on Wednesday, May 18. However, by day two, Friday, May 20, everything seemed to go exactly as planned.
Of no surprise was the continued domination of the enigmatic junior Cherish Morrison, who toyed with the field, winning the individual sprints while leading the Borderite girls team to a fourth-place finish in the team competition. Morrison took the 100m dash in 12.49, the 200m in 25.78, and the 400m in 57.42.
Also qualifying for state in the sprints was long-striding junior Kiersten Sigfusson, who finished second behind Morrison in the 400m with a time of 57.99 and third in the 200m with a time of 26.61. Sigfusson’s 400m time was her best of the season and the third best in the state this year in 2A. Morrison, of course, owns 2A state best times in all three events.
Morrison was still caught up in early drama Wednesday, however, as for 15 minutes, it seemed that Blaine’s two-time defending champion 4x200m girls relay team would not get the opportunity to defend its title.
During the preliminary race, Blaine was initially disqualified by the zone judge on the pass between Olivia Olason and Sigfusson. The team, which includes anchor Morrison, and Olivia Moore sat in inconsolable grief after the stunning development.
The ruling was then changed due to interference from the Sultan team, and Blaine got into the finals. Blaine finished second in the finals to arch-rival Sehome. In the race, Morrison made up 90 meters on the Mariners’ anchor Zoe Moeller, falling short by five meters.
“It’s great to run against [Morrison],” Moeller said. “I stretch myself with her. I’m used to not having anyone in front of me, but with her, I know she’s coming.”
The Borderites’ time of 1:46.66 was a Blaine school record.
Also joining the sprinters at state, as expected, will be senior Penina Laolagi, who set a personal record with a throw of 122-04 feet in the discus to finish second in the event behind friend and rival Gina Flint of Squalicum. Laolagi finished third in the shot put with a throw of 34-11 to also qualify for state in that event. “This year, I feel like I have a better chance to medal (at state),” Laolagi said. “I’ve definitely improved. I’m still excited and pumped to go.”
On the boy’s side, powerful performances in the throwing events thrust two Borderites into the spotlight.
Eddie Avena set a personal record with three shot put tosses of more than 50 feet, winning the district championship and a ticket to the state meet with a throw of 51-06.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Avena said. “I’ve kind of been improving all year, working out for both football and shot.”
“Eddie worked hard in the off-season, and it paid off,” events coach Dave Fakkema said.
Another point of pride for Fakkema was the performance of his son, James. The Borderite sophomore threw four consecutive personal records on his way to a second-place finish with a throw of 161-06 in the javelin to upset several competitors and qualify for state.
“I’m very surprised,” Fakkema said. “I’ve never been so excited in all my life.”
Senior Brett Mattson was able to overcome the injury-ridden disappointment of last season’s district meet, qualifying for state with a pole vault of 13-06 – just behind rival Gibb Dallas of Lynden – finishing third overall.
“Since last year, it’s been about improvement each jump,” Mattson said, “not about winning.”
Sophomore Tom Bradley qualified for state with a strong finish in the 3200m run with a personal record time of 9:28.79, fifth best in the 2A this year.
The 2A state track meet will once again be at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, beginning Thursday, May 26, and running through Saturday, May 28.