WALLA WALLA — A little rain couldn’t slow down the Walla Walla High School track team on Thursday.
With blustering showers and high winds sweeping through Martin Field for the final MCC Pod of the season, the Blue Devils had to navigate puddles on the track, among other hurdles.
“One of the tough things about having a home meet are distractions — more family can come, more friends can come and the weather’s what it is,” Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw said. “That’s the one thing I love about these kids — they compete and they work and they don’t say anything about what’s going on around them.”
The Blue Devils weathered the storm — quite literally — as the boys beat Kennewick, 122-19, but fell to Richland, 86-59. The girls team also downed Kennewick, 118-23, and tied with Richland, 75-75.
Senior Rob Thonney led the Wa-Hi boys, as he nabbed a first-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles and added a second-place finish in the 110 hurdles. His time of 41.02 seconds in the 300 hurdles was not only a personal best, but also ranks him as the top time in District 5.
And with the district meet right around the corner, Thonney knew a little rain wasn’t going to slow him down.
“Getting into the blocks, it actually feels good to have the rain on my back, surprisingly,” he said. “During the race, I guess I didn’t notice as much and just tried as hard as I could.”
Teammate Darnell Handcox took first in the triple jump with a mark of 42 feet, five inches. Although it wasn’t his best effort of the year, Handcox still ranks third in the district. He also went 20 feet, 9.5 inches in the long jump, which was good for third.
Wa-Hi sprinter Stuart Gillin nabbed second and third in the 200 and 100, respectively. His time of 11.45 seconds in the 100 trailed teammate Ethan Gardner by less than one-tenth of a second. Gillin also ran the 200 in 23.32 seconds.
The Wa-Hi duo has been neck-and-neck throughout the season in both events, but considering their friendship, it seems this rivalry is far from over.
“It definitely motivates you,” Gillin said of racing with Gardner. “You get bragging rights over each other and he has them right now. It’s good to be with somebody you’re comfortable with.”
Gillin also teamed with Gardner, Thonney and Brennen Barberich for a second-place finish in the 4x100 relay. The Blue Devil relay, which has also included Handcox this season, finished in just 43.90 seconds.
“I think we’re going to explode at districts,” Gillin said. “We’re going turn some heads a little bit.”
The Wa-Hi boys throwers — Thomas Ashley in the discus and Donovan Romero in the javelin — took second and fourth, respectively.
Their female counterparts, however, continued their year-long battle against one another.
“The throwers again kind of led us by committee,” Hisaw said. “They just do a super job of doing things.”
Madi Doepker led the way this time around, as she took first in both the shot put and the discus. Teammate Katarina Tonhdavong took third in both events. Maddy Sirmon then downed Doepker, as she won the javelin with a throw of 126-08, compared to Doepker’s second-place mark of 123-06.
The Blue Devil trio of throwers also dominates the leaderboard of District 5 with Tonhdavong first in the shot put and discus, Sirmon first in the javelin and Doepker second in both the shot put and discus, and third in the javelin.
“We definitely push each other at practice,” Tonhdavong said. “We throw together and we push each other and we help each other with form and footwork.
“We’re hoping to go to state and win state,” she added. “It’s a big deal because it’s possible to happen.”
Wa-Hi’s Miranda Doyle refused to let the weather affect her, as she finished first in the triple jump. Her mark of 33 feet, 10.5 inches bested Richland’s Shelan Akker by more than 10 inches.
“I actually like it,” Doyle said of the rainy conditions. “It’s almost a motivation to step up. You worry about the board being slippery, but besides that, (there’s) not much (of an effect) I would say.”
She also collect a PR in the 100, as she finished fifth with a time of 13.81 seconds. Teammate Hannah Moeller nabbed first in the 100 with a time of 13.44, and second in the 200 with a mark of 27.40.
Wa-Hi hurdler Colleen Gibbons finished first in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. Gibbons’ time of 49.04 in the 300 hurdles was a season-best and places her second in the district.
Junior Courtney Cox also collected a season-best time of 11:25.49 in the 3200, which ranks second in the district.
“We had a ton of PRs,” Hisaw said. “To have PR’s in weather like this and a track that’s in terrible shape. It pays tribute to the kids and how hard they work in practice.”
With the district meet slated for Friday, the Blue Devils will be hard at work to slash as many seconds as possible.
“It has to make the kids feel good and give them some confidence and some belief that we’re ready to bust out again and be as good as we can be at the biggest meet of the year,” he said. “I know they’re looking forward to it. I know the staff is too.”