This team takes longtime Lincoln High School track and field coach Duane Lee back.
About 30 years back — when Lincoln’s programs won six of its nine state boys track and field titles from 1969-77, and were built on jumpers and quarter-milers. Except the Abes haven’t won a state title since.
“This is the deepest team in 30 years — for sure,” Lee said. “It feels really good to be back to where Lincoln track is Lincoln track again.”
Lincoln’s boys team took first place out of 23 schools at the Tacoma Invitational on Saturday at Lincoln Bowl — for the second consecutive year after going more than 25 years without winning the invite since the name changed from the Lincoln Invitational in the late 1980s, Lee said.
Lincoln also took the combined team title Saturday — edging second-place Olympia, 215.5-161.5 — for the first time since its boys and girls teams both won team titles for the fourth consecutive year in 1984.
Lincoln got first-place finishes from Xzavier Weston and Walker Flynn in the 100 and 200, respectively. James Mwaura won the 800 and 1,600. Lincoln won the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, discus, long jump and triple jump.
“You look at the history and tradition of Lincoln track and the program was built on jumpers and quarter-milers,” Lee said. “That’s what this group looks like — and you add a distance kid in James and our throwers are getting better.”
This year’s field was considerably smaller after 33 schools participated in 2015. The Tacoma meet usually doesn’t fall on the same weekend as the Pasco Invitational, Snohomish’s Nike Eason Invitational and the Oregon Relays.
Still, Saturday’s meet featured just about every Tacoma-area program.
Such as Mount Tahoma — which dazzled in the relays.
Tyra Thibodeaux knew she and the rest of the Mount Tahoma relay team were going to set some personal records.
“I didn’t think it would be by that much,” she said.
Mount Tahoma’s 4x100 relay team lowered its Class 3A-best time and took first place in 49.60 seconds.
And later that group — anchored by Thibodeaux and including Krysten Brooks, Carolina Perez and Lakeisha Rembert — did the same in the 4x200 relay, shaving almost a second off its previous best time. They now own the top 3A mark in the state in that event, too, according to athletic.net.
“This just puts a positive name on Mount Tahoma,” said Rembert, who took first place in the triple jump at 35 feet, 11 1/2 inches. “I don’t think people realize how good of a girls track team we really have.”
Both Rembert and Thibodeaux reached the state championships — held at Mount Tahoma Stadium — in field events last year. But this year’s relay team already owns the school record in the 4x100 and is second behind its 2007 squad in the 4x200.
“We’ve been working so hard with each other and motivating each other and keeping each other going at practice,” said Thibodeaux, who took first in the 100 in 12.98 seconds.
While those relay teams collected points for the girls, Ilijah Hudson was at work for the Mount Tahoma boys.
Hudson edged Lincoln’s Flynn in the 400 to take first place in 49.37 seconds. That’s now the top time in Class 3A and the second best in all classifications in the state.
How did he feel?
“Tired,” Hudson said with a laugh.
“I did it. I finally did it,” Hudson said. “I was focused all morning. I ate a lot of protein, got a protein shake. My whole mindset was focused on the 400.”
Hudson faced Flynn again in the 200, taking second as Flynn won in 22.47 seconds.
“I finally got back to being me,” Flynn said. “I was focused and I ran good and I ran fast.”
Flynn helped Lincoln’s 4x100 relay team eclipse its 3A-best time, taking first place in 42.57 seconds while running with Weston, Tony Archie and Darien Williams. They trail only 4A Graham-Kapowsin for top time in the state (42.51).
Weston won the 100 in 11.15 seconds, Williams won the triple jump at 43-10 — edging Wilson’s Charles “Tre” Summers — and Archie won the long jump at 20-9 1/2.
“I’m very blessed to be on this team,” Flynn said. “This class is leaving stuff that is going to be really good for years to come.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677