The most heart-throbbing finish of the state track and field championships and maybe one of the wildest in the history of the state-championship 4x400 relay competition decided the Class 4A boys title.
It came after South Kitsap High School’s track and field team spent most of the three-day championships outside the main concourse at Mount Tahoma Stadium sweeping the throws. Cole Sunkel capped that feat Saturday with the javelin title after sophomore Nolan Van Amen had won his second consecutive discus title and first in the shot put.
South Kitsap won its first boys state team title, ending Federal Way’s two-year title run.
“At the beginning of the year, I had no idea we might be here,” Wolves coach Paul Zimmer said.
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South Kitsap edged second-place Wenatchee, 50-47.5. And it all came down to that final mile relay.
Eastmont’s Phillip Moore said his body shut down. He had already captured state titles in the 100- and 200-meter sprints earlier in the day and also ran the 4x100 relay.
Moore passed Wenatchee’s Reid Lovercamp on the final straightaway. But as Lovercamp regained the lead just before the finish, Moore dove, his shoulder pounding into the finish line. Lovercamp leaped and rolled past the finish.
After a few minutes of waiting with Wenatchee believing it had won the title, Eastmont was listed atop the leaderboard, though both teams were listed as finishing in 3 minutes, 21.14 seconds.
An official walked across the track and told Moore his relay team had won by five one-thousandths of a second.
“My body went into total shutdown. I didn’t have anything left,” Moore said after winning his third individual title of the day. “He started passing me and so I was like, ‘Screw it.’ And I dove and I guess I passed him.”
That gave Wenatchee eight points instead of 10 for taking second place. But South Kitsap still would have won the team title because of another twist toward the back of the pack of that same relay.
South Kitsap’s Izaijha Byrd was in eighth place when he took the baton for the final leg of the relay. But he caught up to the pack and sped past a pair of runners to get SK into sixth place.
Instead of one point, the Wolves got three. Instead of 10 points, Wenatchee got eight.
And South Kitsap took home the title by two and a half points.
“That was absolutely the craziest 4x4 I’ve ever seen,” Zimmer said. “I never would have thought it would have come down to that.”
But there were certainly more highlights on the day.
Bellarmine Prep’s Jack Yearian took the 3,200 title two days after winning the 1,600. It came after he placed third in the 800 and second in the 1,600 as a sophomore last year.
He finished Saturday’s 3,200 in 8:59.94 to finish in under 9 minutes for the second time this season. Yearian’s 8:58.61 at California’s Arcadia Invitational in April was what led him to give up the 800 in the first place.
“I’m not regretting anything,” Yearian said. “Even if I wouldn’t have won, I’m glad I did (the 3,200) because in college I doubt I’m going to be an 800 runner.”
Graham-Kapowsin won its second relay title in school history and first in the 4x100. It’s team of Aaron Wright, Kevin Dudley, Luke White and Chukwudi Onwumere won with a season-best time of 41.75 seconds to edge Kentwood.
“It’s remarkable. A lot of hard work in practice,” Wright said. “A lot of not cutting practice. Three 400s. Not two or two and a half. We were going out there, staying dedicated and keeping our grades up.”
Brandon Stribling was part of Kentwood’s second-place relay team, but ended his day on a happier note when he edged Federal Way’s Chico McClatcher for the long-jump title. The two had the top two marks in the state entering the weekend.
“My coach and I have been talking about this all year,” Stribling said. “Just to finally have it — it feels like it’s finally setting in.”
Tahoma sophomore Olivia Ribera came in with the state’s top time in the 200, but after taking second in the 100 earlier, she then had to settle for second in the 200 when Union sophomore Dai’Lyn Merriweather soared from sixth place on the final straightaway to first. Merriweather’s twin sister, Jai’lyn, won the 400.
The three days were full of highlights, but no athlete was better than Mountlake Terrace junior Chinne Okoronkwo. She set meet records in the 3A triple jump and pole vault Saturday after taking the long jump record Friday. Auburn Riverside’s Brittni Williams took second to Okoronkwo in both jump events.
Enumclaw’s KC Moulden successfully defended her 3A shot put title, edgting Bonney Lake’s Samantha Boudreau with a mark of 45 feet, 5 inches.
Mount Rainier sophomore Aiden Basco entered with the state’s top time in the 300 hurdles and he didn’t disappoint, winning the title over Kentridge’s Tanner Conner in 37.85 seconds.
Kamiakin junior Heather Donais won four gold medals, capturing titles in the 100 and 300 hurdles, and the 4x100 and 4x200 relays, to lead the Braves to their fourth consecutive Class 3A girls team title.
Issaquah capped its 4A girls title with a 3:48.95 finish in the 4x400 relay. That beat the 1983 meet record held by Lincoln and members of that Abes team then presented Issaquah’s relay team with the first-place medal.
Shorecrest won the 2A girls title, while Issaquah’s 4A team title ended the Federal Way girls’ two-year run on top. Federal Way was trying to become the first in state history to win three consecutive boys and girls titles in the same span of years.
Bellevue won its fourth consecutive 3A boys team title and River Ridge won its first in school history.
Federal Way placed 12th in the girls division and sixth in the boys.
“We had a lot of success this year,” Federal Way boys coach Chris Williams said. “So we’re very proud of that.”