Road trip works well for Blue Devil tracksters

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GRESHAM, Ore. — Walla Walla High School’s boys track and field team finished tied for fourth at the 49th Centennial Invitational here Saturday.

“We had a really, really good track meet,” Blue Devils coach Eric Hisaw said. “Of course there are always some ups and downs, and that’s athletics, but all-in-all, I was incredibly happy by today’s performances.”

The Blue Devil girls finished tied for 16th, but had some standout showings.

Hisaw said the performance of the day for Wa-Hi was Maddie Sirmon, who had a 16-foot personal record in javelin with a throw of 135 feet, 1 inch, for third place. The throw makes her ranked No. 1 in the region, fifth in the state and No. 15 in the nation. She’s also the second-ranked sophomore in the country.

“So cool for her,” Hisaw said. “She really rose up to the competition level today. There’s still more to come, but she was awesome.”

Marie Hallowell placed seventh in the javelin as she PR’d by three feet at 117-10.

“She’s on the verge of breaking out like Maddie just did,” Hisaw said. “She’s having a tremendous year and has a very legitimate shot to get to state if she keeps progressing like she’s capable of.”

Kat Tonhdavong threw a lifetime best of 120-feet in the discus to place fourth.

“She was ranked in the top six coming in and had pressure on her to perform, and she responded like a champion,” Hisaw said. “She’s a great competitor and did a very nice job of focusing on what she needed to do, and not worry about everyone else.

The girls’ 4x100-meter relay team of Ally Gibbar, Dominique Cox, Maggie Callan and Hannah Moeller ran a season-best time and finished eighth at 50.76.

“The did a great job today in a really good girls relay field and got the baton around fast!” Hisaw said.

The Blue Devil girls 4x400 relay team of Callan, Cox, Brittany Gibbar and Ashley Cornia also placed sixth, a second off their season best time at 4:07.12.

Rachel Nelson had a season-best showing in the 800 meters by five seconds, finishing 12th in 2:22.99.

And Courtney Cox came in 17th in the 3,000-meters in 10:55.14.

“She ran an incredibly smart, tactical race and in the end outsprinted another girl over the last 210 meters to win,” Hisaw said. “She’s starting to really put some things together and is getting into a great groove at just the right time.”

On the boys’ side, “coming home with some hardware is always a blast,” Hisaw said. “And I can’t remember the last time we did bring hardware back to Wa-Hi in a meet of this magnitude. Almost 50 teams here today from all over Washington and Oregon, and we did it without really trying to score points to win the meet. Pretty special for them!”

The 4x100 relay team of Darnell Handcox, Stuart Gillin, Robert Miller and Ethan Gardner won in 43.59.

“The entire team ran beautifully, almost flawless, especially since I put a little wrinkle in their plan by changing the order around an hour before they ran,” Hisaw said. “But they ran extremely well, and Ethan ended up running two guys down over the final 30 meters for the victory. It’s the first short relay, big invite champion Wa-Hi has had since I’ve been here. This is a special group of young men and they deserve all the credit in the world.”

Sean Newcomb finished third in the 3,000 meters in 8:38.36.

“He was phenomenal in the 3000-meter race,” Hisaw said. “He was patient, aggressive and smart. He really ran his race plan and didn’t get too excited early on. He held the lead with about 250 meters to go and just got outkicked. His time, though, was fast. It was really special for him too, because he had just committed to run, and receive a scholarship, from Southern Utah University last week.”

Gillin placed sixth in the 100 meters final in 11 seconds flat, and Gardner was third in the 200-meter dash in 22.85.

“Both kids ran outstanding races,” Hisaw said. “They’d never been in a big event ‘final’ before. So it was neat to see them come through with season-best races when there were about 2,000 people watching. It was a super atmosphere for them to run in. It’s a big-time final here because the lights go on, as it’s dark and the stadium gets completely silent. It gives you the chills. They rose up and competed really well and it is going to prove huge for them down the road.

Logan Reardon “had a very solid day as well,” finishing seventh in the shot put at 49-08.25, ninth in the javelin at 167-10 and sixth in the discus at 143-03.

“I believe he was the only athlete at the entire meet that did place in all of them,” Hisaw said. “Many throwers just throw throw of the events, but Logan is good enough to do all three. Luckily for Wa-Hi, he is good at all three. His shot and disc were solid, not great, but solid none-the-less. He PR’d by a foot-and-a-half in the javelin, though, with a lifetime best effort of over 167 feet.”

Finally, Peter Sirmon was fourth in the pole vault at 14 feet.

“He battled tough today, but it was an adventure,” Hisaw said. “He was never really on consistently. He just kept working, though, and ended up clearing 14-feet, but was a competitor and is still the No. 1-ranked 4A vaulter in the state.”

Overall, the trip to Gresham was a good one for the Wa-Hi athletes, Hisaw said.

“It was a long one for everyone involved, as we left at 5 a.m., rode the bus for four-and-a-half hours, competed from 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., and then came back home. We got to Wa-Hi at 4:20 a.m. on Sunday morning. We traveled the longest of anyone there, made no excuses and made this community proud. It was awesome to hear and see our kids announced up on the award stand, time and time again. They are fantastic kids!”

Wa-Hi hosts the final league meet of the season Thursday at Martin Field at 4 p.m.

“The boys have a chance to wrap up the regular-season title and go undefeated again,” Hisaw said. “The girls are in a fight to finish third, which would be super, considering how tough this league is.

“There are 11 events where Wa-Hi is ranked in the top 10 in the state of Washington,” he said. “It’ll be a great track and field meet to be a part of.”

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