With Narrows League history on the line in an achingly close race for the Class 4A girls league championship trophy, in the last event (the 4-by-400 relay) of the day, Bellarmine Prep rested its hopes Saturday on a sophomore who had never competed at that distance before.
With a half-point in meet scoring separating Gig Harbor and her Lions, anchor Haley Lepkowski took the baton trailing the Gig Harbor runner and did not overtake her until the final 20 yards. Just past the finish line, she tumbled in exhaustion.
“Too much pride to lose,” Lepkowski said. “I focused because I know how much (coach Matt) Ellis wanted to win.”
Ellis laughed when he heard that. “They’re very competitive,” he said of his athletes. “But, yeah, we wanted that one.”
Of Lepkowski, he said, “She’s tough as nails.”
With the demise of the Narrows League (Bellarmine will move to the South Puget Sound League next year), it represented the last Narrows championship meet. Bellarmine won with 168.5 points to Gig Harbor’s 167.
On the boys side, Tacoma-area schools dominated. Gig Harbor built a huge edge on second-place Bellarmine, 202.5 to 119.5, in the 4A meet. In 3A boys, Lincoln, with 190 points, outdistanced second-place Central Kitsap by 74 points.
Capital (164.5) topped the 3A girls scoring, and Central Kitsap (136.5) was second.
While the 4A girls title went down to the final leg of the final event, the contest might have tilted earlier in the day when senior Hailey Purtzer led Bellarmine’s 1-3-4-5-6 finish in the 3,200 meters.
Purtzer won in 11:35.7, ahead of Olympia’s Kiersten Kimminau (11:38.8). After that, the Lions’ Tara Hale, Kailey Dubinsky, Karli Maenhout and Bryce Hustead fell into place, good for 28 Bellarmine points.
“That’s tough to counter,” Gig Harbor coach Kevin Eager said.
Sofia Ries, a junior, won the 800 for Bellarmine in 2:20.38.
The Tides boys team won only two events Saturday, but compiled 108.5 points on Thursday. Gig Harbor’s 4-by-400 relay took the top step on the podium, with Marcel Alexander, Tucker Gibbons, Zach Davis and Mark Kimball winning in 3:25.02.
Kimball, a sophomore, won the 200 meters for Gig Harbor in 23.0, just ahead of teammate Davis’ 23.3. “My teammates, we all push each other and feed off each other,” said Kimball, who won the 100 on Thursday.
Sophomore James Mwaura led the Lincoln boys’ second-day assault. The state’s second-ranked 3,200 runner breezed to a 20-second victory in 9:33.61.
Junior Patrick Rogers triple-jumped 43-7 ¾ to lead a 1-2-3-4 Abes’ finish in the event. He was followed, in order, by seniors Tony Archie, Terrell Bromer and Alvin Johnson.
The Abes got firsts Saturday from Walker Flynn in the 200 (22.33) and the 4-by-400 relay (Daniel Calderon, Johnson, Bromer and Flynn) in 3:25.41.
“This is our deepest and best team in 30 years,” said Lincoln coach Duane Lee of his boys.
The strong day for Gig Harbor’s girls started with a victory in the 4-by-200 relay in 1:45.26. Hadassah Ward won the shot put for the Tides with a throw of 40-5 ½.
Morgan Greene of Wilson was a two-event winner in the 3A girls meet, winning the 200 in 26.21, nosing out Regie Grady of Capital. The two had reversed their positions in the 100 on Thursday. Greene ran a leg on Wilson’s victorious 4-by-200 relay (1:47.08).
Senior Jack Yearian won the 3,200 for Bellarmine in 9:21.29.