WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla High track and field athletes begin their quest for state hardware today at Mount Tahoma High School as the Class 4A state meet fires off.
And the Blue Devils have some high hopes, with last year’s state champion in the javelin, Madelyn Sirmon, and runner-up in the discus, Katarina Tonhdavong, looking for top finishes along with their teammates.
This afternoon, Tonhdavong “throws the discus in hope of placing one spot higher than her second-place finish in 2013,” Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw said. “Her season-best would seed her second this year, but her regional throw seeds her seventh. It wasn’t her best throw of her life, but she rises up to the challenge. She’s always been the kid to throw her best when she absolutely has too. She’s here for a second year-in-a-row as well, which does such great things for a kids’ confidence. And Kat is so composed, so confident and is a great competitor. It’s going to be really exciting for her!”
Friday is Wa-Hi’s busiest day, with Tonhdavong and Maddie Doepker both throwing the shot put, and the Blue Devil boys running the 4x100 relay preliminaries.
“The girls both have a very good chance to end up on the podium,” Hisaw said. “This will be Kat’s first time throwing the shot at state. And we expect her to do well.
“It’s Doepker’s first time at a state event and she is really excited about it,” he said. “She’s been so strong mentally this year and I know she will be at her best this weekend. Madi is so competitive, and she has a 40-foot throw in her, no question, it just all has to come together. Breaking the school record last week was so exciting! We’d love to see her break it again and end up on the awards podium. She has a great chance to do that.”
The relay of Brennan Barberich, Stuart Gillin, Darnell Handcox and Ethan Gardner “are ready to roll,” he said. “And, for the first time all year, we’re going to run the same kids in the same order, in back-to-back meets. We’ve been so banged up the last month, it really is amazing that we’ve gotten back to state. We are finally really healthy and it’ll be exciting to see what we can do.”
The 4x100 relay final is Saturday, and also when Sirmon defends her javelin title.
“She is the hunted, the defending state champ,” Hisaw said. “People know who she is and she’ll be ready. She won it all on her last throw last year. She is such a big-meet, big-pressure performer! She’s clutch and she’ll be great again this weekend.
“She has some great competition, though,” he said. “A girl from Skyview has thrown over 153 feet this year, and threw 143 feet to qualify, and there are two or three other girls that are within 1 foot of Maddie (who is seeded with a throw of 138-4).
“It’s going to be a great event!” Hisaw said. “I wouldn’t bet against her, though, she always seems to have something ‘extra’ when she needs it.”