WALLA WALLA — For the majority of a decade, Waitsburg-Prescott has dominated District 9 in boys track and field.
W-P has won six district championships in a row and seven out of the last eight (DeSales won a title in 2006).
That streak of dominance is on the line again today and Friday at the District 9 2B Championships, to be held at Clarkston High School, as W-P faces tough competition from league rival Asotin.
“Asotin is going to really challenge us,” W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. “I don’t know if we can do it or not. I’ve added up the points several times and it doesn’t look good.
“The kids are having fun,” Bartlow said. “Knowing the stakes and how close it is makes it a lot of fun to compete.”
On the girls side, the Panthers are almost a lock to win the district title, as their tracksters showed at subdistricts, winning 11 of 18 events. That includes a 1-2 finish in the shot put and 1-2-3 finish in the discus.
“And on the girls side, it looks like Asotin is probably too strong to be overtaken by any other team,” Walla Walla Valley Academy coach Dan Solis said. “So Asotin could sweep.”
The top two finishers in each event qualify to state.
Here’s a look at the Walla Walla Valley’s top athletes:
James Thompkins, W-P
To say that Thompkins has been dominant would be putting it lightly.
He holds the top times in the state at the Class 2B level in both the 100-meter race (11.16 seconds) and the 400 (50.77), as well as the second-best time in the 200 (22.94).
He also anchor W-P’s 4x100 relay team, which has the second fastest time in state (44.79).
He suffered an ankle injury while playing basketball before the Prosser Invite on April 20th, but has since recovered and put down some of his best times in subdistricts held May 8th.
“We’ve got to get him back in shape,” Bartlow said. “He’s not where we want him the 400, but he’s close. He’s right where we want in the 100 200, and 4x100 — he is conditioned for those. He could get back into shape for those quicker, but the 400 is tricky.”
Thompkins got some good (or bad, depending on your perspective) news this year when it was determined that he was a junior, not in the class of 2013 as originally thought when he transferred to the Jubilee Youth Ranch, which is part of the W-P athletic combine.
“He kind of blew my mind when he was a freshman,” Bartlow said of Thompkins. “He got here and he’s just getting better and better. He ran like he ran all his life (as a freshman), beautiful form and everything. He’s excited and he wants to go win some individual titles.
“He’s got two years to be special, and he’s already special,” Bartlow said.
Seth Deal, W-P
Deal, a senior, is W-P’s distance specialist. He holds the fourth best time in state this year in the 1600 (4:33.0) and the fourth best in the 3200 (9:51.79).
Deal should be able to get to state, but winning districts will be another story, as he faces tough competition from Asotin’s Chandler Teigen.
Teigen holds the second best times in both the 1600 (4:27.2) and 3200 (9:38.48) in state this season.
“(Teigen) is an animal and he’s a state champiohsip caliber kid,” Bartlow said. “He’s (Deal) going to have a tough time beating him.”
Deal should be able to put down lower times at districts, as his events are run on different days, allowing him rest in between.
“He’ll get his own school records broken in each event,” Bartlow said. “I’m sure of it.”
Ben Schafer, W-P
Shafer, a senior, is W-P’s best thrower and holds the second best toss in the shot put this season. His throw of 47 feet, 4 inches is also the best in the league.
In the discus, Shafer is ninth in state with a throw of 129-8, and will need a supreme performance to surpass Asotin’s Jacob Swearingen, whose toss of 147-1 is second-best in state this year.
“I told Ben Shafer, you’ve got to come up with some big throws in discus,” Bartlow said. “He has been hovering around 47 feet (in the shot put). He’s tough in the shot. In the state he’s No. 2 and he’s been No. 1 or No. 2 all year.”
Allison Wujek, DeSales
Wujek, a junior, has finished first or second place in the 100 hurdles and high jump in every competition she has been in this season, including the 17-team Prosser Invitational, which featured schools in all classifications, including 4A.
She is tied for first in state in the high jump with a leap of 5-4, and is tied for third in the 100 hurdles with a run of 15.94.
She also holds the sixth-best long jump — second best in league — and runs a leg of the DeSales 4x100 team.
“She has a pretty good chance,” DeSales coach Michael Scheel said of Wujek’s chances to qualify for state. “She’s been battling some illness and some bumps and bruises because she practices so hard in practice. She’s gotten beat a couple of times this year and she didn’t like the taste of that, so she’s determined not to have that happen in districts.”
Andrew Elmenhurst, DeSales
Elmenhurst, a sophomore, is the state’s best javelin tosser this year with a throw of 161-0, despite the fact he only picked up the event this season.
“We just threw him in and he tried it in the first meet he got 141,” Scheel said. “So he had some promise and he kept chugging away at it. He’s been throwing in the 150s pretty consistently, but I think he can pop a pretty good one (at districts), maybe in the 170s.
“We’re going to start him in the javelin early next year and see where he can go,” Scheel said. “He’s doing pretty good at it.”
Elmenhurst also runs legs on the 4x400 relay and 4x100 relay teams as well, which could contend for state qualifications.
“The 4x100 and 4x400 relays have a shot at qualifying for state,” Scheel said. “In the 4x100 it’s just going to come down to smooth handoffs and good timings, in the 4x400, if we can just do what we can do we’ll be fine.”
DeSales’ Juan Cortez also has a chance to get to state in the 3200 — he holds the sixth best time in state this year at 10:15.60 — but he will have to pass runners from W-P and Asotin to make the 2-runner cut to state.
And Brigit Lyons should have a chance in the 300 hurdles. She holds the 10th best time in state this season (49.65) and has consistently finished in the top two this season.
Abbie Underhill, WWVA
Underhill, a freshman, holds league bests in both the 300 hurdles (47.94) and the long jump (17.05), both of which are third-best in state as well.
She could go to state in the 100 hurdles as well, given a second-place finish in that event in subdistricts.
“She’s just having phenomenal season for a freshman,” Solis said. “It’s rare that a freshman gets to go to district championships. She’s made really good progress this year — we’re really proud of her and she looks good for the upcoming week.
“I’ll be surprised if she does not win the 300 hurdles and earn a berth to state,” Solis said. “The long jump is a little bit more heavily contested.”
Brandon Bissell, WWVA
Bissell, a senior, holds league bests in the 110 hurdles, the 300 hurdles, and the long jump.
At the state level, he is sixth in the 110 hurdles (15.94), ninth in the 300 hurdles (42.64) and third in the long jump (20-6.5).
He also runs a leg on the WWVA 4x100 relay team, which is contending for first place in league.
“Brandon could get four first-places this week,” Solis said.
The WWVA 4x100 team (Alex Aamodt, Wesley Hendrickson, Bissell and Caleb Atkins) has finished first in all but two meets this season.
They finished second to W-P at subdistricts only after a bad baton handoff.
“We worked this week on getting those handoffs smoothed out, so it should be a good race,” Solis said. “It’s going to be down to the line — a photo finish.”
Solis also expects Aamodt to contend for a state berth in the 800. Aamodt has finished in first place in three events and holds the seventh best time in state this year, but he will have to get past a trio of Asotin athletes whom have run faster 800s this season.
“This could be a very fun race to watch for the top three guys because only two qualify for state,” Solis said. “(Aamodt) has an outside shot, but a good shot at getting to state.”
Other athletes who have shots of getting to state include Dayton’s Kaitlyn Andrews and W-P’s Owen Lanning.
Andrews has the district’s best javelin throw this season (122-10, fourth in state). Lanning’s triple jump stretched out to 40-8, ninth best in state top in the league.
Districts begin today and conclude Friday, beginning at 3 p.m. both days.