WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla High School is bringing a massive contingent to the District 5/8 Class 4A regionals today and Saturday in Spokane.
The Blue Devils qualified more than 50 athletes out of districts, where anyone in the top eight finishers advance.
The regional track meet will narrow the field down substantially, as only the top two athletes in each event will advance.
“It’s a real treat to be able to take this many kids to a meet like this,” Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw said. “It’s a real tribute to this group’s hard work, effort and dedication over the season.”
And not only will the Blue Devils bring a lot of athletes, they will be bringing a lot of athletes with a chance to advance.
The meet begins today at 3 p.m. at Spokane Falls Community College and continues Saturday at 10 a.m.
On the boys side, Wa-Hi is led by a strong distance duo in Ben Wolpert and Sean Newcomb, their top-ranked 4x100-meter relay team, Logan Reardon in the throws and Peter Sirmon in the pole vault.
Stuart Gillin has laid down some of the league’s best times this season in the short distance sprints, and Jonah Hoe currently has the third-best 400 time amongst the Mid-Columbia Conference 3A and 4A schools.
“We come into this meet in some ways in unchartered territory,” Hisaw said. “We have more kids in events that are in the top four than I can ever remember. When you sit down and actually look at the lists and what our kids have the chance to do, it has the potential to be an incredibly exciting and promising weekend.”
The Blue Devils had the only 4x100 team (Robert Miller, Gillin, Darnell Handcox, Ethan Gardner) to break 43 seconds at a meet this year, as Wa-Hi set that mark in districts on May 11.
That mark is currently the ninth best in state.
“We enter the meet with the No. 1 4x100 relay team in the region, but this race is going to be very, very tight,” Hisaw said. “We will have to run the best race we’ve run all year to get through. I do believe we will, though.”
Gillin will have the Blue Devils’ best chance to get through at the 100 and 200, although he will face some stiff competition. He is ranked No. 4 in the MCC this season, but will likely need to break the 10-second barrier to make state as two different Greater Spokane League athletes have already accomplished that feat, including Mead speedster Davian Barlow, who laid down a 10.82.
In the 200, Gillin holds the MCC Class 4A’s best time this season and ranks fourth among the region combined.
“Stu’s (Gillin) ready for that breakout weekend,” Hisaw said. “He’s been very consistent, but is ready to take that drop in time. He’s beaten everyone in the field at some point this season, but it’s going to come down to a single run on Saturday for both races.”
Wolpert and Newcomb have Wa-Hi’s best chances to advance to state, with Wolpert holding the MCC’s best time in the 1600 (4:18.79) and second-best time in the 800 (1:58.50).
Newcomb leads the MCC in the 3200, running the two-mile in 9:15.76.
“In the distance races, both Ben Wolpert an Sean Newcomb will are both seeded No. 3,” Hisaw said, “The distance events are so strong on this side of the state. It will take the best meet of the year for Ben and Sean to get through, but they’re outstanding runners. They’re two of the best in the state.”
Reardon, Wa-Hi’s throwing specialist, has his best chance to get to state in the javelin.
His toss of 179 feet and 1 inch is tops in the MCC by 9 feet and the third best out of anyone from the GSL this season.
He will also be throwing in the shot put and discus, where he has the second- and fourth-best throws, respectively, in the MCC this season.
“Logan Reardon has a real exciting weekend ahead of him,” Hisaw said. “He’s got a legitimate chance to qualify for the state meet in all three throws. He’s going to have to be able to separate one event from the other though.
“He’s going to have to compete in two throws at the same time and that takes a lot of mental strength,” Hisaw said. “He’s got the ability and he’s peaking at the right time.”
Peter Sirmon is tied with five others for the best pole vault in state this season at 14-06, including Mead’s Blase Neumann.
It will likely be a two-man race between Sirmon and Neumann for the regional title, and both will likely qualify to state, but with a 13-06 leap this year (second best in the MCC), Wa-Hi’s Garrett Kenny could sneak in there.
“Peter Sirmon and Garrett Kenny have been rock solid all year in the Pole Vault,” Hisaw said. “They just need to continue to do what they do best — compete.”
Sirmon and Darnell Handcox will lead the Blue Devils in the Long Jump, and Handcox leads the Wa-Hi triple jumpers.
Sirmon holds the third-best long jump in the MCC this season at 21-03.5 and Handcox’s leap of 40-10 in the triple jump was the eighth best in league.
But both have serious competition from the GSL athletes, however.
“It’s a very balanced and close field,” Hisaw said. “Their lifetime bests put them in the top five and inches from the top spot. They’ll have to find something extra this weekend.”
On the girls side, the Blue Devils have even more chances at getting athletes to state, with 29 girls qualifying for regionals out of the district meet.
Wa-Hi could even get all three relay teams (4x100, 4x200 and 4x400) on to state, Hisaw said.
“Obviously a lot has to go right, and we have to compete at our highest level,” Hisaw said, “but this is the first time that I can remember that we have a legitimate shot at getting all three relays out to the state meet.”
Hannah Moeller, Dominique Cox, Maggie Callan and Allyson Gibbar won the 4x100 at districts Saturday with a time of 50.21, good enough for the fourth best 4x100 time of the year in the MCC.
Brittany Gibbar, Miranda Doyle, Allyson Gibbar and Moeller set their season best of 1:47.60 in the 4x200 during a league meet on April 25.
And in the 4x400, Callan, Dominique Cox, Brittany Gibbar and Ashley Cornia set their best in 4:09.55 at the Pasco Invite.
Cornia should have a good chance to go to state in the 300 hurdles, as her time of 46.13 in districts was the best of anyone in either the GSL or MCC has put down this season.
“She hasn’t had that breakout meet yet, but has been so consistently fast this season, Hisaw said. “She has a super chance to get to Tacoma, but she’ll have to earn it to get there.”
Cornia will also have a shot at the triple jump, as she is the third-seeded triple jumper to regionals and will be jumping on fresh legs with regionals spread out over two days.
“She had a lifetime best of 35-04 last week after six long jump attemps and running a lifetime best in the 300 hurdles and the 200 dash,” Hisaw said. “She could really be a force to contend with and surprise the entire field.”
Rachel Nelson leads the Blue Devils in the 800, and although she didn’t win districts, Hisaw said she is ready to have a breakout competition.
“Rachel Nelson is also going to be a real threat in the 800,” Hisaw said. “She’s in great shape right now, I think, and is ready to have the race of her life. It’s a really solid 800 field this year, but she’s been there before and expects great things of herself.”
Dominique Cox, Allyson Gibbar and Callan lead Wa-Hi in the sprints.
“There are so many little things that can happen in a sprint race, and these kids are just gamers, they compete so well,” Hisaw said. “They’re right in the thick of things in their events and have as good a shot as anyone in the field.”
Courtney Cox rounds out Wa-Hi’s tracksters; she is the No. 3 seed in the 1600 and fourth seed in the 3200.
“She’s got a real chance in both races,” Hisaw said. “She’s going to have to run the best races of her life, but she’s a fighter — she’s going to give it all she has and it’ll be close.”
Maddie Sirmon set a MCC/GSL best in April when she launched a javelin 135-01, and she neared that record again in districts with a 134-04 throw.
Either of those tosses would likely have gotten her into state and possibly a regional championship — the nearest throw out of anyone in either the GSL or MCC was Samantha Baker’s 129-10 throw.
“She’s really found a great groove and has become a consistent, big thrower, Hisaw said. “She’s a gamer too. She’s as good a competitor as anyone in the meet this weekend, I don’t care what event. She just rises to the occasion every time.”
Also through the javelin for the Blue Devils are Maddie Doepker and Marie Hallowell, with the fourth- and fifth-best throws in the MCC this season.
“The javelin is an event where a 5-to-10-foot (personal record) is not uncommon at all, and these two are due for one, Hisaw said. “If they do get it right, they can hit the automatic qualifying mark of 131-03 and get out.”
Courtney Hutchinson, a Mead senior, owns the shot put with the eighth best throw in the entire nation this season (47-07), so the battle in the shot put will likely be for second place.
That battle could be amongst all Blue Devils, as Wa-Hi’s Katarina Tonhdavong, Doepker and Hannah Burns have the MCC’s second, third and fourth seeds out of districts.
“It’s truly going to be any girl’s chance,” Hisaw said. “And Kat Tonhdavong, Maddie Doepker and Hannah Burns are throwing their best throws at the right time. This will be a great event to watch.”
Although Tonhdavong’s best throw during a meet this season only places her at fifth in the MCC, she made state last season and is also due for a big toss, Hisaw said.
“She has yet to really launch one in a meet, although we’ve seen it in practice,” Hisaw said. “She’ll be really tough to beat I think this weekend. She’s another one that never ceases to amaze me, as she always competes the best against the best.”
at Spokane Falls Community College
Friday and Saturday
Top two advance to state
Stuart Gillin 100/200/4x100
Ethan Gardner 100/200/4x100/4x400
Robert Miller 100/200/400/4x100
Darnell Handcox 100/4x100/LJ/TJ
Ben Wolpert 800/1600/4x100/4x400
Andrew Miller 800
Sean Newcomb 1600/3200
Paul Gilmore 3200
Rob Thonney 110H/300H/4x400
Andrew Harvey 110H
Reid Reininger 110H
Colton Jordan 110H
Justin Evans 300H/4x400
Logan Reardon SP/DC/JV
Quinn Piver SP/DC
Nathan Brewer DC
Nik Miner JV
Alexander Pickel JV/HJ
Zach Gilvey JV
Zach Telfer HJ
Brian Seekamp HJ
Peter Sirmon PV/LJ
Garret Kenny PV
Roark Nelson PV
Maggie Callan 100/200/400/4x100
Dominique Cox 100/200/4x100
Allyson Gibbar 100/4x100/4x200
Ashley Cornia 200/300H/LJ/TJ
Rachel Nelson 800/4x400
Courtney Cox 1600/3200
Catherine Feistner 1600
Jennifer Wall 1600/3200
Hannah Hampson 3200
Lea Davidson 3200
Emily Leinweber 3200
Hope Snyder 100H/300H
Colleen Gibbons 100H/4x400
Hannah Moeller 4x100/4x200
Brittany Gibbar 4x200/4x400
Miranda Doyle 4x200/TJ
Megan Evans 4x400
Katarina Tonhdavong SP/DC
Madison Doepker SP/DC/JV
Hannah Burns SP/DC
Lauren Wardwell SP
Maddie Sirmon DC/JV/LJ
Marie Hallowell DC
Jessie Shives JV
Arianna Parker JV
Kate Hogan HJ
Kiana Newcomb HJ
Brenna Barnett PV
Kiauna Canada TJ
Key — H: hurdles; SP: shot put; DC: discus; JV: javelin; HJ: high jump; PV: pole vault; LJ: long jump; TJ: triple jump.
OTHER TRACK MEETS
Weston-McEwen and Mac-Hi each begin their district track meets today.
The TigerScot girls have been dominant this season, winning five out of six scored meets this season.
Expect that dominance to continue this weekend in the Blue Mountain Conference championships, beginning today at 11 a.m.
Madison Carlin leads the TigerScots in the short sprints, holding the second best times at the state level in both the 100 (12.97) and 200 (26.64).
Elizabeth Herbes holds the fifth-best time in the state in the 400 (61.58) and the eighth-best distance in the triple jump at 32-07.5.
Betsy West is in the top 10 in state in both the 100 and 300 hurdles.
W-M’s 4x100 relay team (Madison Carlin, West, Herbes and McKayla Carlin) is ranked third in state with a time of 52.12.
West, Krista Peralez, Herbes and Melanie Sederburg combined in the 4x400 for the fourth-best time in state at 4:20.80.
Makayla Christopher holds a host of state top-10s, with a sixth-best shot put (33-01.5), sixth-best discus (106-09), fifth-best javelin (114-06) and fourth-best triple jump (33-07.5).
The W-M boys haven’t had the same level of success, with Linton McAllister’s 5-11 high jump coming in at sixth-best in state.
No other TigerScot boy made the state list.
The Greater Oregon League District Meet kicks off today at 3 p.m.
Tristan Warne leads the boys, placing in the top five consistently in the 110 hurdles and the 300 hurdles. He also runs on the 4x100 relay team.
Kristi Childers has been dominant in the girls 100, winning at five-straight meets. She also competes in the long jump, 4x100 and 4x400. She also places in the top three consistently in the 100 hurdles.