May 31 was a big day for Blaine High School track and field.
Seven Blaine athletes medaled at the state track meet at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, and two high-flying ladies took home state titles.
Olivia Adams is the 1A state champion pole-vaulter for the second year in a row after clearing 11'6". Taylor V’Dovec set a
new school record in the high jump with a leap of 5'6", which also garnered a state championship title.
“It was a great state tournament for Blaine,” coach Carey Bacon said.
For the girls team, which placed sixth overall, the results at the WIAA/Dairy Farmers of Washington/Les Schwab Tires 1A Track and Field Championships were the best since record-setting sprinter Cherish Morrison graduated in 2012. For the boys team, the 25th-place team finish was the best result since the team placed second at the 2A state meet in 2009.
Steven Crafts led the boys team at state this year, earning second place in the long jump among a talented field with the longest jump of his life so far – 22 feet, which is 7 inches farther than his prior personal record and a new school record.
“To get a 7-inch personal record at state doesn’t happen often, so it was pretty incredible,” Bacon said.
Kieya Villars placed fifth in the 300m hurdles with a time of 47.32, which was a personal record for her. She ran in the eighth lane, which many consider the toughest lane because those who run it must start out ahead of everyone else, which complicates pacing.
Hillary Kiele placed seventh in the 800m with a time of 2:25.93. In the finals, another runner came up behind Kiele and tripped over her. Kiele managed to keep her feet, but she may have lost time in the stumble. No penalties were awarded.
Gage Lott placed eighth in the pole vault by clearing 11 feet 6 inches.
Josiah Westbrook took eighth place in the 100m with a time of 11.45.
“That was a very fast heat,” Bacon said, referring to the boys 100m finals in which the winner, Ray Stark from Elma, ran a 10.86.
Adam McShane and Jon Fakkema narrowly missed medaling in the boys throwing events. McShane earned ninth place in the shot-put with a throw of 48'5.75". Fakkema threw the discus 123'9" to take 10th place. Elle Moore threw her personal best in the shot-put, heaving the 4kg shot 33'1" to take 14th place.
The gold medals in the girls jumping events capped a day full of achievements for the Blaine track and field teams.
Adams headed into the pole-vault finals as a defending state champion with everything to lose. Her four opponents were easily clearing 11 feet, which meant they were getting closer to her personal record of 11'9" than her opponents in the state meet last year.
“It was more stressful than last year. Defending the state title definitely added some pressure. I put more effort into staying calm and focused,” Adams said.
“We knew she had a good chance of winning, but it was up to her to perform,” Bacon said. “That can be a really high-pressure situation, especially at the state meet, but she’s so mentally strong. She dominated the event.”
Adams cleared 11'6" for the win.
“It’s really exciting to win the championship two years in a row. I’m glad I did it this year because next year I’ll be going up against a girl who is ranked seventh in the nation,” Adams said. Madi Krussow from Squalicum has cleared 13'3", but don’t rule out Adams just yet – a state-level wrestler as well as a champion pole-vaulter, Adams isn’t the type to back down from any challenge.
V’Dovec, who opted out of track last year to focus on basketball, placed sixth in the high jump as a freshman in 2012. She said she’s glad she went out for track again this year.
“It’s been a lot of fun. Track is more laid back than any other sport I played, and I’ve made good friends,” she said.
V’Dovec returned to the state meet with a single goal: clear 5'4" to set a new school and personal record. In the finals, she cleared 5'4" in her first attempt.
With the pressure off, V’Dovec confidently soared over 5'5" and 5'6" in her next two attempts.
She was neck and neck with two other athletes. The close competition gained the attention of a significant chunk of the crowd.
“The crowd was into it. There were a lot of oohs and ahhs,” Bacon said.
V’Dovec is used to loud crowds.
“It wasn’t nearly as loud as our home basketball games,” she said. “You don’t normally see people cheering for the high jump, so it was pretty cool. If anything, it helped.”
Two other girls cleared 5'6" in their second attempts, but no one cleared 5'7". V’Dovec won based on the fact that she had cleared the highest mark on her first attempt.
“I didn’t find out I had won until later, and honestly I was just really surprised,” V’Dovec said.
“It was an exciting competition,” Bacon said.
The prospect of next year’s team is exciting as well. Of the 10 Blaine athletes who advanced to the state tournament, nine are juniors and one is a sophomore.
“With such a strong core of young athletes, it bodes really well for next season,” Bacon said.
Blaine will need all the returning talent it can get next year, as every sports team will move to 2A.
“We’ll be facing bigger schools, but we should still be competitive,” Bacon said.