It wasn’t the march to the award stand she remembered from the previous two seasons, but Blaine junior Cherish Morrison was able to mine satisfaction out of a challenging 2011 state track and field meet.
After River Ridge High School’s Necy Wade beat Morrison by .02 seconds in the 100m, the two-time state champion and favorite in the 2A girls sprints rebounded by easily winning the 400m and then beating Wade in the 200m sprint with a blistering personal, school and state record of 24.64 to bring home two more state championships at Star Track XXIX at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, on Saturday, May 28. The Borderite girls finished third overall in the state as a team.
“I wasn’t going to let (Wade) win after she beat me in the 100,” a glowing Morrison said. “I tripped over myself and lost like three strides (in the 100m dash). That’s when she took the lead. I was so frustrated.”
In the 400m, Morrison found some unusual sources of inspiration.
“I was the No. 1 pick in someone’s fantasy track draft that was going on,” Morrison said. “I thought it was time to show those other girls up.”
The meet didn’t start well for the Blaine girls team. The 4x200m team of Morrison, Olivia Olason, Olivia Moore and Kiersten Sigfusson failed to defend their consecutive state championships, with Morrison struggling in the pack on the final turn and only qualifying third in the preliminaries. The same thing happened in the finals, and Blaine finished a disappointing sixth.
“I didn’t run my best split,” Morrison said.
“Cherish got cut off in the prelims,” said head track and field coach Mike Grambo. “She wanted to run in lane one and had to run in lane three. She had an off day and that slowed her times. That happens in sports.”
Morrison has now won 10 individual and team titles going into her senior year.
Thrower Penina Laolagi also struggled at state, finishing outside of medal contention in both the discus and the shot put.
Sigfusson boosted the Blaine girls with a seventh-place finish in the 200m and a fourth-place finish in the 400m to give the Borderites third place.
On the boys side, the top medalist was thrower Eddie Avena, who finished fourth overall with a throw of 49-07, but could not repeat the three consecutive 50-foot throws that garnered him the district championships.
“I just didn’t throw as well as I could today,” Avena said.
Brett Mattson also made it to the medal stand, finishing sixth in the pole vault with a jump of 13-6. Tom Bradley finished ninth in the 3200m run and James Fakkema failed to qualify for the finals of the boys’ javelin.
Conditions for the preliminary and field events the first two days were bordering on the surreal – sun would surrender to high winds, sudden rain squall, and hail as a weather system that spawned a tornado in the southern part of the state passed through the Tacoma area.