Kamiakin hints at 3A 3-peat with win

todd.milles@thenewstribune.comMay 4, 2014 

KIRKLAND – Less than four weeks from now, the Kamiakin High School girls track team will venture to Star Track XXXII in Tacoma as the two-time defending Class 3A champion. Few folks see anything that will prevent a third title.

They aren’t as sharp as they want to be in late May, but that still did not prevent the Tri-Cities powerhouse from posting a runaway triumph at the all-girls 38th Lake Washington Invitational at Lake Washington High School on Saturday.

And this wasn’t a field of cupcakes, either. It included Holy Names Academy, the Braves’ top

chaser in 3A. And reigning 4A state champion Federal Way – albeit still nursing itself back to full health – was involved, as well.

Buoyed by five event wins and a whole lot of quality depth, Kamiakin won with 123 points – well ahead of runner-up Holy Names (53) and third-place Skyline (44).

“We are not going full speed yet,” said Kamiakin senior Ellie Heiden, a 10-time state champion in the sprints. “We are putting all of our focus toward the meets that matter. That is hard to learn that lesson because you want to win every single race right now. You’ve just got to be patient, work hard and put the time in.”

Even with that said, it was a mild surprise to see Heiden lose to Holy Names’ Imani Apostol in the 400 meters.

The two runners were deadlocked with 25 meters to go, but Apostol nudged ahead in a homestretch headwind to win in 55.73 seconds.

Heiden did come back to easily win the 200 in 25.00.

As solid as the defending 3A champions looked, the top 4A team is still not fully healthy. The Eagles placed sixth Saturday.

Star sprinter Hannah Cunliffe (knee) returned after an extended absence to run in a relay Saturday. Hurdler Mariyah Vongsaveng has been battling hip and shin issues, although she did post a personal-best 14.48 to win the 100 hurdles over South Puget Sound League rival ShaRaya Quinn (14.52) of Emerald Ridge. And Ta’Mara Richey, a state contender in the long jump, has suffered through nagging knee and ankle injuries for the Eagles.

“We just have to first and foremost take care of our bodies,” Vongsaveng said. “We want ourselves back 100 percent, and not just go 75 percent and hurt ourselves again. Definitely there is a big target on our back, but we are a strong team still.”

With the invitational season officially coming to a close Saturday, Federal Way girls coach Quinn Gillis said a priority is to “relax them, rest them a bit and ice them up” before the postseason hits in two weeks.

“Your conditioning will hold up for two-three weeks, and we are almost three weeks out from the state meet,” Gillis said. “In practice we will back them off and get them into the training room, do a lot of massage and other types of treatment.”

Quinn, the state leader in both hurdles events, won the 300 hurdles in 44.27, holding off a hard-charging Darhian Mills of Inglemoor (44.63).

“This season has gone really well,” said Quinn, the defending 4A 300 hurdles champion. “I am a lot stronger than I was last season.”


Mountlake Terrace’s Chinne Okoronkwo, the state’s top triple jumper, won that event with a jump of 38 feet, 9 inches.

She also set the meet record in the pole vault at 12-3, eclipsing the old mark of 12-0, set by Eisenhower’s Doria Halbrook in 2003.

Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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