Amid the rain and uncertain clouds that hovered over French Field in Kent on Friday, one thing was for sure: Tahoma’s Aliya “Nami” Wilson can run and Ginny Mehl can throw.
Wilson, a sophomore, placed first in all the events she competed including the 100 meters, 200 meters, 4x100-meter relay and the 4x200-meter relay and helped th Tahoma High School girls track and field team cruise to the 4A North Puget Sound League championship, beating second-place Kentwood, 152.5-68.5.
Tahoma’s boys team also won the NPSL title, beating second-place Kentwood 119.5-76.
“It feels good to win, I haven’t ran a 200 in a couple weeks so I’m getting back to going through all my phases,” she said. “I drive out, maintain on top of my hips and speed it up the last 100 meters.”
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Her phases have worked for her in the past as Wilson has climbed her way to the third fastest runner in the state at 200 meters. Her meet-winning time was 24.72 seconds, which was just off her personal-best of 24.45 seconds — a time that only trails Union High sisters Jai’lyn and Dai’lyn Merriweather for fastest in the state.
Teammate Olivia Ribera, a University of Washington commit, was right behind her in both the meet and state as she is the fourth-fastest runner in the 200.
“I really try to push it at the end, I tend to have a slower start,” Ribera said. “(Aliya and I) absolutely push each other all the time.” Her finish time was 25.35.
They had combined with Aliya’s sisters, Tierra and Alisha, to run a first-place time in the 4x100 relay of 47.51 on Wednesday — and that was more than a second slower than the state-record time they set at the Arcadia Invitational earlier this year of 46.32 seconds.
While Wilson and Ribera were leading the Bears on the track, Mehl was dominating in the field.
“I really like to compete. Showing people what you got that day is probably my favorite thing about this,” Mehl said. And what she had was top marks.
Mehl came in first in the javelin, discus and shot put, beating out Kentlake’s Jordan Fong and Jefferson’s Zoe Williams.
“I try to do my best and stay within myself,” Mehl said.
Mehl’s counterpart for the boys was Enumclaw’s Connery McLaughlin. Though he didn’t participate in the shot put, he still won in the discus and javelin.
“A lot of people think that it’s just arm ... when throwing the discus, but you also have to get spin fast and get your hips open,” he said. “I’ve been really working on trying to get my hips through.”
Throwing short in the seeding round, McLaughlin was able to find his stride when it came to the discus as he tossed it for 151 feet, nine inches to win first.
Mount Rainier’s Aiden Basco was another runner coming in to this meet with some high-level competition as he is the fourth fastest in the state in the 300-meter hurdles.
As a sophomore, Basco was the state champion in the 300 hurdles, but didn’t make it back to state his junior year. Now as a senior, he still finds it challenging to make it back to the top.
“I’ve been dealing with a hamstring injury, and last week I rolled my ankle,” he said. “It’s really hard to come back to a race you haven’t run in a couple of weeks and it was nerve-wracking not knowing how well you are going to do.”
Basco did very well as he placed second in the meet with a time of 39.91, just barely beaten out by Hazen’s Jakob Smith by .34 seconds.
Tahoma’s Bobby Say helped the Bears win the boys team title behind his first-place triple jump of 46 feet, 1.25 inches. That’s now the sixth-best mark in the state (regardless of classification), according to athletic.net.
He edged Auburn Mountainview’s Talan Alfrey, who edged Say in the long jump at 21-11.5.
Friday night’s finishing events ended with the 4x400 relays, and for the boys teams, it was all about trying to beat Todd Beamer, the fourth-fastest relay team in the state. Although Kentwood and Mount Rainier finished first and second place at the meet respectively, it was still smiles and confidence for the Titans.
“We’re all very good friends off the field,” said Koby Okezie. “It really comes down to that chemistry we have.”
Okezie, Austin Bass and Avonte Yarbrough set up their anchor, Malik Malutama, who was able to take the corner sharp and quick in their heat, leaving behind everyone else. They would finish with a time of 3:28.20.
All four Titans know what’s ahead as each one eagerly said: “We are excited for state.”