Wa-Hi has high hopes at state meet

The state track and field meet kicked off Thursday night, and the Blue Devils have several trophy hopes remaining.

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WALLA WALLA - Wa-Hi's trip to Tacoma for the Washington state Class 4A track meet brought with it high expectations for hardware this year.

And in opening action Thursday night at Mount Tahoma High, Blue Devil Katarina Tondavong finished fifth in the first flight of the discus with a throw of 108 feet, 10 inches.

Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw said earlier this week Tondavong had a shot at placing, though she missed a medal .

Tondavong finished third in the discus at regionals with a throw of 116-04.

"She had such a great meet at regionals!" Hisaw said. "Yes, it was a huge PR (personal record), but that's not uncommon in the throws.

"She had a great series of throws last week and has had another super week of practice," he said.

"She's another kid that doesn't get caught up in the size of the meet. She just goes about her business and competes like crazy. She just finds a way to rise up when on a bigger stage.

"It's a super opportunity to be here this weekend, and she has an outside shot at placing if all goes well for her."

The meet kicks off in full force today, and the Blue Devil boys, especially, have some shots at top finishes, Hisaw said.

"We've got kids that have qualified that all have a real chance to place this weekend," Hisaw said. "It may be the best group of kids we've taken over in 10 years. I'm really excited about their chances at ending up on the award stand, for their sake."

Wa-Hi's Blake Gerling is the top-ranked 300-meter hurdler in the state and "has been very consistent with his times," Hisaw said.

Gerling and Blue Devil teammate Kyle Jameson finished 1-2 at last weekend's regional meet.

"He's yet to have that ‘breakout' race, but he's finally found the step pattern through the first three hurdles to run with everyone at the start of the race," Hisaw said of Gerling. "If he can be even with the field through three hurdles, I'm not sure if anyone in the state will be able to stay with him for the last five hurdles.

"However, that's why you run the races, to see who runs their best at the biggest meet of the year," he said.

Preliminary heats for the 300 hurdles are today, with the finals Saturday.

Gerling and Jameson both failed to qualify for the 110-meter hurdles finals during preliminary heats Thursday. The top three from each heat and then the next top two times advanced.

Jameson finished sixth in the first heat in 14.95, while Gerling was fifth in the second in 14.90.

Jonah Hoe enters state as the No. 2-ranked long jumper, leaping 22 feet, 1.5 inches at regional.

"He had a fantastic regional meet," Hisaw said. "He had four jumps all over 21-6, and he's found a great rhythm. He's a big-meet performer and this will be his second time long jumping (at state), so he won't be in shock when he's there. He's really excited about the opportunity in front of him."

The 4A boys long jump finals are Saturday.

The Blue Devil boys' 4x400 relay team of Jameson, Greg Heller, Hoe and Gerling kicked off state action last night, just missing qualifying with a time of 325.81.

On the girls side, Blue Devil 4x400-meter relay qualified for state for the third straight year, "which is quite an accomplishment!" Hisaw said.

"Maggie Callan, Ashley Cornia, Dominique Cox and Rachel Nelson have run better as a group each week, for the last three weeks," he said.

But the group missed qualifying for the finals with a time of 4:07:18 Thursday night in the prelims.

Overall, Hisaw is optimistic for this year's state contingent.

"It's a great group of kids and they have been our backbone for our team all year," he said. "They understand big moments and how to handle pressure. They are excited about this opportunity to represent our school and our community this weekend!"

The meet continues today and Saturday.

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