WATCH: Lincoln's 4x400 relay win secures team title for Abes at Star Track
Terrell Bromer, Daniel Calderon-Hernandez, Walker Flynn and Alvin Johnson waited, prayed and waited some more.
If Flynn’s surging finish on the final straightaway to win the Class 3A 4x400 relay title stood, it would clinch the state team title for the Lincoln High School boys track and field in the last race of the 3A boys meet.
However, the officials had to first discuss whether to disqualify the Abes for pacing.
Only the title stood and that gave Lincoln its 10th state track and field title — most in state history, but the first since 1977 — on Saturday at Star Track XXXIV at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
“We were in shock,” Bromer said.
“I just kept praying about it. We gave it up,” Flynn said. “I was thinking that even if they took it away from us, we were going to know. Like they might as well have put an asterisk next to it.”
Only there will be no asterisk.
Through rain, headwinds on the back stretch of the track and cloudy skies, South Sound schools swept the boys team titles on the final day of the state track and field championships.
Federal Way won its third 4A title in three years, with defending champion South Kitsap finishing fourth. Lincoln edged second-place Bonney Lake to take the 3A title and end Bellevue’s win streak at four in a row. Black Hills won the 2A title.
Bellarmine Prep’s Jack Yearian earned a title of his own — the right to be called a triple-crown winner.
The University of Oregon commit bolted past the pack on the final of eight laps in the 3,200 to finish in 9 minutes, 5.63 seconds — becoming the 14th athlete in state history to win a 4A cross country title, 1,600 title and 3,200 title in the same school year.
He crossed the finish line holding up three fingers on one hand — signifying the triple crown — and two fingers on the other — for winning back-to-back 1,600 and 3,200 titles.
“It was something I talked about with my teammates. We’d be like ‘Would you rather win the mile and two-mile in track? Or would you rather win cross?’ ” Yearian said. “To say I’ve been able to do both in the same season is surreal. It’s pretty cool.”
West Central District schools dominated in the relays.
Graham-Kapowsin’s Aaron Wright, Luke White and brothers Chukwudi and Nonso Onwumere won the school its second consecutive 4A 4x100 relay title, edging second-place Federal Way in a state-best time of 41.96 seconds.
“I love it,” said Chukwudi “JC” Onwumere, G-K’s 6-foot-5 anchor leg. “I got my little brother right here — well, little big brother (6-foot-7 Nonso) — and then this family right here (Wright and White).
“We’ve been doing this for three years. It’s an honor running with them and finishing the way we did.”
Mason Sallee was among Federal Way’s second-place relay — his first year competing as a runner. He later went on to win the 4A long jump title on his final jump, outleaping second-place Albert MacArthur of South Kitsap at 23 feet, 8 ¾ inches.
He was the first to accept Federal Way’s plaque for the team title, as he wore his first-place medals around his neck for the 4A triple jump (his second title) and long jump titles, and his second-place relay medal.
“We thought we would be in it, but like any year a lot has to go right,” Federal Way boys coach Chris Williams said. “We’re glad to be back on top and hopefully we can be in this situation again.”
Kentridge’s Tanner Conner won his first hurdles title. He had finished second in both the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles last year, then took second in the 4A 110 hurdles on Friday by 0.06 seconds. But he won Saturday’s 300 hurdles title in 37.44 seconds.
That came after Sumner’s Josh Riley won the 3A 300 hurdles title in 39.03 seconds and River Ridge’s Josh Braverman won the 2A 300 hurdles title in 38.39 seconds.
Tahoma’s Olivia Ribera and sisters Tierra, Miya and Nami Wilson didn’t set the state record in the 4x100 relay like they set out to. But their 47.39-second finish was almost a second faster than second-place Curtis.
Their 47.13-second finish at the Pasco Invitational earlier this season is the third-fastest time in state history. All four will be back next year.
“It’s amazing,” Tierra Wilson said. “You look back at all the work you did, all the nights we were on the track in the freezing cold, this is what we worked for. I’m even more passionate and motivated for next year.”
And Enumclaw? It won a pair of 3A girls relay titles Saturday in the 4x100 and 4x400 — and took second in the 4x200.
But no relay was more dramatic than the 3A boys 4x400.
Lincoln’s Flynn had already raced the 400 (placing second) and the 200 (placing fourth). But he had enough gas in the tank to close what was about a five-meter gap from when he grabbed the baton to pass Bonney Lake’s Bennett Hillier on the last straightaway.
“In the 200, I was tired,” Flynn said. “But I was like, ‘I’m going to finish this 4x4. We are going to kill it.’ ”
Johnson was running beside Flynn on the infield, cheering him on. Only WIAA rules state that people are not allowed to run alongside contestants and it’s worthy of disqualification.
Lincoln led Bonney Lake in the team-title hunt by three points going into the race. So a disqualification would have made Bonney Lake the team champion.
“I was hoping (the officials) weren’t going to make the wrong decision out there,” Lincoln track coach Duane Lee said.
And it came a day after Bromer and Flynn were part of Lincoln’s 4x100 relay team that had a botched baton exchange in its preliminary. It had prevented them from qualifying for Saturday’s finals despite coming in to Star Track with the top 3A time in the state.
“With all the stuff that happened at this meet, it didn’t happen the way we wanted,” Johnson said. “We should have easily cruised to the state title. … For it to come down to the 4x4, it’s an amazing feeling.”
And it had Lee, a 1982 graduate of Lincoln, wondering if this might be the start of sustained success at Lincoln — just like in its glory days.
“The outpouring of support from the Lincoln community and the ‘go get ems’ we heard in the halls all week were unbelievable,” Lee said. “Normally I’m not this speechless, but I’m filled with emotion right now. I really am.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
STAR TRACK XXXIV STATE CHAMPIONS
Local champions from Thursday-Friday at the state track and field championships at Mount Tahoma Stadium
4A boys: Federal Way 65
3A boys: Lincoln 45.66
2A boys: Black Hills 47.5
Long Jump (19-11.5)
Shot Put (59-9)
Long jump (23-08¾), Triple Jump (48-0.5)
Triple Jump (38-5.25)
Nolan Van Amen
1,600 (4:07.68), 3,200 (9:05.63)
300 hurdles (37.44)
Aaron Wright, Nonso Onwumere, Luke White, Chukwudi Onwumere
4x100 relay (41.96)
Tierra Wilson, Olivia Ribera, Miya Wilson, Nami Wilson
4x100 relay (47.39)
300 hurdles (39.03)
Shot put (41-11)
Taylor Tandecki, Taliah Olson, Nikole Schroeder, Josie Neu
Enumclaw 4x100 relay (49.17)
Aleea Gwerder, Sarah Meeker, Josie Neu, Taliah Olson
4x400 relay (3:54.52)
Daniel Calderon-Hernandez, Alvin Johnson, Terrell Bromer, Walker Flynn
4x400 relay (3:20.19)
300 hurdles (38.39)
Triple Jump (37-3.75)
High Jump (6-4), triple jump (46-0)
Shot put (47-0)