Local athletes make strong showings at state track meet

May 31, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

Haley Jacobson, Issaquah High School senior, takes a jog down the track before her 100-meter dash at the 4A state championship May 28 in Tacoma. By Greg Farrar

For the seniors, the state championship track and field meet at Tacoma’s Mount Tahoma High School on May 27 and 28 marked the final athletic event of their high school careers.

That was so for Skyline High School’s Kasen Williams. But for Williams, there were few better ways the two days could have turned out.

Williams took first place in all three events in which he participated, setting a new state record in the triple jump with a monstrous 50-foot, 9.25-inch leap. It was a record his father held from 1977-1999 with a 50-foot, 3/4-inch jump.

“It feels great because it’s back in the family,” Williams said, adding that both he and his father had their eyes on the record. “That’s what we say, is that record’s back in the family, and hopefully I can hold it for 22 years like he did.”

Williams cleared 6-10 in the high jump and 24-5 1/2 in the long jump for his other two first-place finishes.

However, Williams wasn’t the only one who found success at the state meet.

The Liberty High School boys team placed second overall out of the 3A schools, thanks to phenomenal performances from Josh Gordon and the school’s boys 4×400 meter relay team.

Gordon, a junior, took first in the 3A long jump with a 22-10 1/2 jump and second in the high jump, clearing 6-6.

The latter set a new personal best and a school record.

“The last few weeks, I’d been really down, only clearing 6, 6-2, so to come out on a nice day and get that was really great,” Gordon said about the high jump. “It just felt really good. I just came off just flying through the air. I’m over the bar and I don’t feel it yet. It was just really a great feeling.”

The 4×400 team — Gordon, Devin Bennett, Joseph Bergmann and Hamilton Noel — took first place with a time of 3 minutes, 22.08 seconds.

Also, Liberty’s Hiron Redmon, a sophomore, took third in the 800-meter dash with a time of 1:56.1; Bennett took fourth in the 400 with a time of 51.01; and Noel took sixth in the pole vault with a jump of 13-6.

Bennett ran in lane seven for the 400, which he said helped eliminate distractions at the start of the race, given that he started in front of most of his competitors.

“You don’t have somebody to pace you,” he said. “The competition is all on your inside. It makes you work harder.”

For the Liberty girls, senior Madison Birdsall took seventh in the 400 with a time of 58.78; sophomore Jessica Pickering took 12th place in the pole vault, jumping 8-6; and freshman Amy Broska took 15th in the 3,200 with a time of 11:51.73.

The Issaquah High School’s girls team placed sixth out of the 4A schools, with Eva Perry leading the way, taking first in the pole vault, clearing 11-3.

Haley Jacobson, a senior who will compete for the University of Washington next year, took second in the 200 for the Eagles, posting a time of 24.54, and fourth in the 100 with a time of 12.11. Issaquah’s 4×100 relay team — senior Kim Varney, Jacobson, sophomore McKenna Hogan and freshman Gabrielle Gevers — made a strong showing, taking third with a time of 49.05.

“All of us had really good times,” Jacobson said. “My coaches were down there and said my start looked great.”

For Jacobson, the 200 was her final race. When she started running, she said all she could think was that it was the last time she would be racing as an Eagle.

“I don’t need to save anything,” she recalled. “I just all day have been thinking the 200, I have to give it everything I have.”

Issaquah senior Jason Hollaway came out strong for the boys team, sailing 14 feet in the pole vault for a third-place finish. Junior Jorrell Dorsey also took seventh in the long jump, recording a 22-foot leap.

For Skyline, senior Kyle Branch finished 15th in the 1,600 meter with a time of 4:26.72 and 16th in the 3,200 with a time of 9:51.11. The Skyline boys 4×400 relay team also took eighth with a time of 3:28.44.

Nonetheless, Skyline coach Dawn Geiser said the team will miss Williams as he transitions to the University of Washington next year.

“It’s a bittersweet moment for the coaching staff,” she said, adding that she and the other coaches gathered around the long jump to watch Williams’ final event. “We were all standing up watching him, and I think we all got a little lump in our throats when we saw him running down for his last jump, because that was it. This is the last time we’re going to get to see Kasen Williams in green.”

However, it was the final jump that clinched Williams his third state championship of the year.

“We’re really excited about seeing him move on to Husky football and Husky track, but we’re really going to miss him,” Geiser said. “People always ask, ‘Has his success gone to his head?’ Absolutely not. He’s one of the finest young men in all aspects.”

Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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