Some call this the district championships. Bellarmine Prep coach Matt Ellis calls it the first round of the state championships.
It’s not lost on him and coach Keith Wren that their boys track and field team won its first district title in school history on a sunny Saturday at French Field in Kent. But they’d like some bigger hardware.
“It’s a nice accomplishment,” Ellis said. “But we keep our eyes on the prize — which is the last meet of the year.”
Bellarmine Prep’s boys team finished with 58.5 points to win the district boys title over second-place Mount Rainier.
The Lions got 30 of those points from Kelee Ringo and Cameron Wyman. Ringo, a freshman, had just surpassed Justin Yeager and Michael Rector, who recently signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford, as Bellarmine’s record holder in the 100, running in 10.75 seconds for the district title on Thursday.
He followed with a third-place finish in Saturday’s 200 in 22.03 seconds, behind Curtis’ Izaiah Fields (21.57 seconds) and Mount Rainier’s Bryant Welch (21.93).
“I feel actually like pretty good about it, knowing that I can improve a lot more with three more years to go,” Ringo said. “I’m just going to see where it takes me.”
Tahoma cruised to the district girls team championship — with almost double the points that second-place Curtis had, 112-62.
An indication that this was the first round of state — Aliya “Nami” Wilson and Olivia Ribera took third and fourth, respectively, in the 200 on Saturday behind Union twins Dai’lyn and Jai’lyn Merriweather. The four of them are the four fastest runners in the state, regardless of classification.
Tahoma earned a second-place trophy at state last year, finishing 13 points behind champion Issaquah.
“I feel like we have a really good chance this year,” Ribera said. “We have to compete and stay focused and finish strong, but I’m looking forward to it, it will be fun.”
Ribera on Thursday helped Tahoma’s 4x100 relay team come within 0.01 seconds of breaking their own state record time of 46.32 seconds.
Saturday didn’t top the eye-popping marks from Thursday, when Kentridge’s Tyler Cronk cleared 7 feet, 2 inches in the high jump (tied for the second-best mark in the nation behind Vernon Tucker of Oklahoma’s 7-6) and Curtis’ Lexi Ellis hit 42-7 ¼ in the triple jump (fourth-best in the nation).
However, Rogers’ Jelani Heath drew some national attention of her own Saturday, hitting 19-11 in the long jump to beat second-place Alisha “Miya” Wilson of Tahoma (18-07 ½). Heath’s jump is the best in the state and tied for 11th best in the country. And Rogers’ Omarei Gregory matched his state-best mark in the triple jump, hitting 47-10.
Emerald Ridge’s Karlee Stueckle won the district title in the 300 hurdles in 43.62 seconds, which was just off her state-best time of 43.42.
“I’m super excited for next week,” Stueckle said, looking forward to the state track and field championships, which begin Thursday at Mount Tahoma Stadium. “But I know I have to work for it.”
Mount Rainier’s Aiden Basco won the district title in the 300 hurdles in 38.77 seconds, which is the fifth-fastest time in the state, regardless of classification.
He’s been thinking about returning to Mount Tahoma for two years now. He won the 300 hurdles state title as a sophomore, but had to watch from the grandstands last year because of a hamstring injury he suffered during a camp in Oregon during the summer entering his junior year.
But feeling the pressure of returning as a state champion, Basco said he overworked it and it cost him his junior year.
“It was really tough,” said Basco, who took third in the 110 hurdles as a sophomore. “This is what I do as an athlete. When you can’t do what you love to do, it’s hard.
“But I feel like I’ve overcome it and it feels like a real accomplishment for me.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677