With only hours remaining until the end of Star Track XXXII, Bellarmine Prep’s Hannah Derby was spending her time vomiting underneath the check-in tent.
She felt ill and totally spent after running in a fast Class 4A girls 800-meter final. Many wondered if she was ripe to be unseated as the defending champ in the 400.
Well, in the span of a couple of minutes, that thought quickly changed. In arguably the gutsiest race of her career, Derby set a wicked early pace and hung on for the 4A title in 55.69 seconds at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
The Lions’ senior became the first girl in 4A or 3A to win four state 400 titles.
“I didn’t know if I could do it today” said Derby, who finished third in the 800 in 2:10.03. “I just decided to give it everything I can, and if I blow up at the end, I blow up”
The game-planning started Friday in the preliminaries. Bellarmine Prep coach Matt Ellis wanted to see how Derby felt after going out quickly over the first 200 meters. Afterward, she told him it was the best she had felt all season.
So when the gun went off for the 400 final Saturday, she took off, barreling by everybody – including Evergreen of Vancouver twins Dai’lyn and Jai’lyn Merriweather, both of whom had beaten her in the West Central/Southwest bidistrict championships the week before in Kent.
“When you haven’t had to chase somebody, and really don’t have that experience, it is tough” Ellis said, “because everyone is hurting coming down that last 100”
Derby covered the first 200 in 27.03, came around the final turn with a substantial lead – but had to finish in a headwind.
Up charged Skyline’s Dorie Dalzell, who made the only serious run at the University of Washington signee. But Derby had enough over the final 50 meters to win.
“It was a classic race of, ‘I’ve been here three times, and done it three times’ ” Ellis said. “She is tougher than nails”
Dalzell was second in 55.83, followed by Dai’lyn Merriweather (55.86) and then her sister (56.24).
“In the past, 400s were a lot easier for me” Derby said. “This year ... I decided to take it 100 (meters) at a time.
“I am glad it was enough”
• Eric Simpson’s track career in college likely will be in the 110 hurdles, which he won twice for Rogers High School at Star Track, including this weekend.
Then he registered a big surprise – even to himself.
From the far right line in the 4A 300 hurdles finals, the senior buried the favorites down the stretch in winning in 37.78 – a personal record by nearly a second.
“I’ve raced Keenan (Curran of Federal Way) a lot” Simpson said. “I thought if I could attack him early on, I would put myself in a good position on the podium. I just didn’t think it would be that high”
• It had not been a good 24 hours for Steilacoom’s Amanda Jaynes. Even though she had her fastest time in the 2A girls 100 hurdles Friday – a 14.64 – she lost the title to Tumwater’s Brooke Feldmeier.
And in the first race out Saturday – the 4x200 relay – the Sentinels were disqualified in the final.
It all led to a dominating performance in the 300 hurdles later Saturday – she won by more than a second in 44.51, well ahead of Burlington-Edison’s Abby Dimock (45.63).
“I told myself I wanted to win” Jaynes said. “I wanted it real badly. I went out and pushed as hard as I could”
• While the more decorated distance runners from the Gig Harbor boys squad fell short in their bid to win the 3,200, a member of the girls team did not – junior Brenna Peloquin.
Racing shoulder to shoulder with Richland’s Lauren Perry for half of the final lap, Peloquin turned on the jets to win the 4A girls title going away in 10:43.12.
“That last lap, I could tell (Perry) was in pain, so I laid it on” Peloquin said. “And in the last 100, I made sure to lay it on. It hurt really bad, but it felt really good”
Other local winners: Tahoma’s Denham Patricelli in the 4A boys javelin (defends title at 204-6); Enumclaw’s KC Moulden in the 3A girls shot put (44-0¼, beat defending state champion Sabrina Keys of North Central); and the Steilacoom boys 2A 4x400 relay team in 3:24.52.