Track and field coaches are easily the best on-the-spot human calculators in sports.
They can add up the entire state high school meet in their heads in minutes.
So when it was coach Jeff Brady’s turn to sit down and analyze what it would take for his Tahoma High School girls to bring home their first Class 4A state championship, one number kept popping up in his head.
“I knew it would take 75 (points),” Brady said.
His girls left that number in the dust by scoring a whopping 91 points. And Tahoma did it with a ferocious blend of sprinter speed, thrower power and jumper agility.
Sophomore Aliya Wilson was sensational in winning her first girls 100-meter title in 11.55 seconds. It just wasn’t as fast as her 11.49 meet record from Friday.
“I got a little nervous because it was a final,” Wilson said. “People know me now, I guess. It’s kind of scary that so many people are watching me, expecting me to do things. It keeps me going.”
The Bears’ 4x100 relay won with ease in 46.62 by more than a second over runner-up Lewis and Clark (48.22).
Shot putter Ginny Mehl polished off the 4A shot put crown with a throw of 44 feet, 4 inches.
And jumper Alisha Wilson finished second in the long jump (18-10½) and third in the triple jump (38-9¾).
Wilson said what the Bears accomplished was truly a team effort.
“We are all pushing each other, and supporting each other to do our best,” Wilson said. “We were helping each other recover, stretching each other out, rolling each other out. So we were getting ourselves through it together, which is nice.”
While the Bears expected to be state champions in 4A, the Gig Harbor girls were hoping just to be in the hunt in their first season in 3A.
With a nucleus of state 300 hurdles champion Leahi Manthei, state 400 winner Hannah Carroll and repeat state shot put champion Hadassah Ward, the Tides stayed on meet favorite Garfield’s heels late into Saturday afternoon.
It wasn’t until the Bulldogs took the top two spots in the 200 finals that they finally had some breathing room. They won with 72 points, ahead of Gig Harbor’s 60.
“I am bursting with pride,” Gig Harbor girls coach Kevin Eager said. “When I think about, in these (hot) conditions, these kids had to come out and go again, and again and again.
“It was on fumes and heart.”
And guts, especially in Manthei’s case.
After a two-year hiatus, the Seattle University women’s soccer signee returned to track this spring, and quickly became one of the state’s top hurdlers.
But after a team dinner Wednesday at the Spaghetti Factory, Manthei and a few of her teammates were in a car that was rear-ended driving on the Tacoma waterfront.
Manthei was taken by ambulance to the hospital for evaluation. She was immediately placed in a neck brace for whiplash.
Eager wasn’t even sure the senior was going to be cleared for the state championships until 11 a.m. Thursday.
“It was hard to run, and yet I sucked it up and said, ‘You are going to win a state title,’ ” Manthei said.
Then there was the 4A boys title that nobody wanted to grab and run away with on the final day.
Mead came into the day as the best bet, but the Panthers’ highly-ranked 4x100 relay squad dropped the baton and was disqualified in the finals.
That left an opening for Bellarmine Prep, which got personal-best efforts from Ian McDougal in the shot put (fifth), and Spencer Fischer in the 800 (third).
In the end, Mead’s 39 points were good enough to hold off the Lions, who shared second place with Jackson (31). It was Bellarmine Prep’s first state trophy in boys track.
“We just weren’t able to pick up more points in key secondary events,” Lions coach Matt Ellis said.
Maybe it was fitting that some of the best sprinters of the past in state history, notably Ellensburg’s Ja’Warren Hooker and the Wilson tandem of Darrell Robinson and Calvin Kennon Sr., returned to watch the record-setting action this weekend.
Six meet records were set during the first two days of preliminaries Thursday and Friday in sprint events.
And then came the fastest girls 4x200 relay finals in history to kick off Saturday as Union (meet-record 1:37.89), Tahoma (1:38.51) and Issaquah (1:38.93) all shattered the previous mark of 1:39.12, set by Garfield in 1983.
Five other times that would have set records in the sprints were recorded, but did not count because they were ruled to be wind-aided.