Saint Martin’s filled a void on the Northwest track and field calendar, and the result on a sunny Saturday was the biggest-ever field for a meet at the Saints’ on-campus track in Lacey.
When the University of Puget Sound opted out of the meet it traditionally hosts on the first weekend of April, Saint Martin’s put out the word in the regional track community that it would step in.
Rachel Brewer, a Saint Martin’s assistant coach and the meet director, said 14 men’s and 14 women’s teams, including a handful of community colleges, entered the SMU Open — which offered an early opportunity in the outdoor track season to post times, heights and distances toward postseason qualifying.
A good representation of unattached athletes also joined the field. One unaffiliated performer — hammer thrower Caressa Sims — had the day’s most dominant individual performance.
Sims, 30, a former Portland State athlete, lives in West Seattle but comes south to Lacey to train in the hammer with Saint Martin’s assistant coach Dwight Midles. She uncorked a throw of 63.09 meters (207 feet, 9 inches) to beat her nearest competitor by more than 15 meters.
The effort came within 10 feet of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials. Sims, who has a career best of 218 feet, qualified for the trials in 2012.
Other individual highlights:
Latrelle Swayne of Saint Martin’s won the men’s 100-meter dash in a time of 10.8 seconds, which would have set a school record by .03 seconds if the wind had been under the allowable 2.0 miles an hour.
“It’s all right,” said Swayne, of Roseville, California, “but I can do better.”
Swayne also finished third in the 200 meters (22.51) and ran a leg on a 4-by-100 relay that did set a school record — for the second consecutive week — with a time of 42.15. He was joined on the relay quartet by Gibran Zaman, Mikel Smith and Jackson Hand.
An anticipated high jump duel between Smith and Anthony Johnson of The Evergreen State College didn’t materialize when Johnson was a late scratch in the event. But Smith was tested by unattached Derek Alderks, a 26-year-old from Mill Creek who jumped in college at Iowa State.
Both men cleared 6-8, but Alderks went out at 6-9. Smith, a junior from Muskogee, Oklahoma, went on to clear 6-10 3/4 before missing at 7 1/2.
Evergreen’s Johnson did win the long jump with a leap of 22-11.
SMU’s Matt Dehan, who has topped 16 feet in the pole vault to rank in the top five in NCAA Div. II, finished second Saturday at 15-3, the same height scaled by winner Gordon Kordas of Western Washington.
Deanna Avalos of Saint Martin’s picked up a second in the women’s javelin at 133-7. Teammate Kirby Neale earned a second in the women’s shot put at 42-1.
Hammer thrower Sims said Midles saw something in her technique and suggested she be a “five-turner” — meaning she spins five times around the throwing ring before letting fly. Most competitors spin twice, three or four times.
“He’s Hammer Master,” Sims said of Midles.
She was likely the oldest competitor in the SMU Open, but Sims said her age won’t keep her from competing in the event she loves.
“I’ll let life tell me if I’m too old,” she said.