Marcus Dickson and his fellow competitors in the Class 2A boys 1,600-meter state final helped changed the perception of distance runners at Star Track 30.
On a sunny and bright Saturday at Mount Tahoma Stadium, Dickson led a group of six runners who posted times faster than the 2A state-meet record of 4 minutes, 15.70 seconds, set by Mason McHenry of Sehome in 2007.
Dickson was the fastest, running a 4:10.79 to win his second consecutive title. But he was pushed by Squalicum’s Patrick Gibson, who ran right with Dickson until the White River senior pulled away.
“I’m the defending champion and I was hurting with one lap to go,” Dickson said. “Every time Patrick made a move, I tried to cover it. With like 200 meters to go, I knew my whole town was here, and we were going for a team state title, I just had to keep on driving.”
Dickson pulled away just enough to secure the title. The duel with Gibson brought a smile to his face.
“I don’t race for time,” he said. “I race for competition. I love the competition aspect.”
But owning the record time was also something he liked.
“Last year I won with a 4:17. To win it with a 4:10 is a lot more respectable,” he said. “It puts 2A on the map a little bit.”
The pace was so fast that Dayde Collins of Deer Park also bested the meet record while finishing sixth in 4:15.46.
Dickson also took home a title in the 800 meters earlier in the day, running a 1:52.84. But his two titles and his anchor leg in the 4x400 relay team, which finished second, weren’t enough to push White River over the top in the team race.
The Hornets scored 58 points – second behind Ephrata, which secured the team title by winning the 4x400 relay and scoring 66 points.
Blaine’s Cherish Morrison was the star of the girls meet. For the third time in four seasons, the senior swept the 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprints and anchored the Borderites’ winning 4x400 relay team.
Morrison broke her own meet record in the 400 (56.09). She led the entire race but began to struggle with about 50 meters left.
“My form was gone, my face was clenched, I just wanted the race to end,” she said. “When it ended, I didn’t care about my time, all I knew was I was lightheaded and my brain was all tingly.”
Blaine’s 4x400 relay crushed the previous meet record by more than three seconds (3:56.59).
Morrison finishes her prep career with 14 track state championships – 11 individual and three relay titles.
Steilacoom’s Daniel Zmuda looked at the scrapes and track burns on his knees, elbow and shoulders. His first response?
“So worth it,” he said, smiling and admiring the wounds of victory.
Steilacoom’s standout junior hurdler earned his battle scars with a last-ditch lunge/dive and tumble at the finish line to claim the 2A title in the 300 hurdles, edging Craig Allen of North Mason.
It was so close that Zmuda didn’t celebrate a victory right away.
“I had a gut feeling when I was diving,” he said. “I didn’t see anyone on my left or right. But you could never be too sure. I was hoping for the best. It was a good race.”
Zmuda had to put all of his hopes on the 300 hurdles after he failed to qualify for state in the 110 hurdles after getting disqualified at 2A subdistricts.
“It’s all I thought about this week,” he said. “I knew this was my only chance.”
Well, it was his only chance this year.
He already has big plans for his senior season.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m looking for sub-14 in the 110s and to hit 36 in the 300. I’m going to train all offseason and finish stronger my senior year.”
AROUND THE TRACK
Sumner freshman Alyssa Murray won the girls 1,600 with a time of 5:02.76. Murray passed Squalicum’s Brittany Gappa on the homestretch to win. ... Jonathan Green was a big contributor for Ephrata’s team title. The sophomore sprinter took home the 200 meters, and finished third in the 100 while anchoring Ephrata’s title-winning 4x100 relay team. ... Pullman senior Adam Mahama won the discus title with a toss of 172 feet, 3 inches. He finished third last season. ... Tumwater’s Andrew Brown repeated as 2A 400 champion in a meet-record time of 48.35. The previous record was 48.38, set by Cade Wandling of Prosser in 2008. ... Sehome’s 4x200 girls relay team broke its own state-meet record when it won the event in 1:41.70. ... North Kitsap won the 2A girls team email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org