3A track: DeBellis caps career with another title

Efraimson gives Neale a run for her money in 800

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

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TACOMA — Jennifer DeBellis could almost open her own jewelry store.

DeBellis, a senior from Columbia River, added to her vast and varied collection of state championship medals Saturday by winning the pole vault at the Class 3A state track and field meet.

Let's see … there are two pole vault medals, and one team title in track, and two championships in floor exercise in gymnastics, not to mention a victory in the uneven bars as well as a team title in her second-favorite sport.

That's seven state championships in five different categories, the latest of which came with a vault of 12 feet, 6 inches, that tied DeBellis' record for the 3A meet.

"It's kind of sad," DeBellis said about the end of her high school athletic career. "I love Columbia River."

DeBellis, who is headed to the University of Illinois to compete in pole vault and study engineering, outlasted Courtney Bray from Mt. Spokane to win Saturday's competition at Mount Tahoma High School. Both vaulters cleared 12 feet, and after DeBellis cleared 12-3 following Bray's first miss at that height, the bar was raised to 12-6.

Two Bray misses later, and DeBellis had another title, although she cleared 12-6 for good measure before attempting a state record at 13-0 1/4.

"My last jump, oh it was so close," DeBellis said. "The thing about pole vault is you always end on a miss. It's a big mental game."

Other Clark County highlights:

• The final of the girls 800 meters was just as tight as expected, with Amy-Eloise Neale from Glacier Peak of Snohomish outlasting Camas' Alexa Efraimson in the final meters.

Both runners rank among the top 12 in the nation this year in the event, and they headed down the homestretch running shoulder to shoulder.

"I think I pushed myself to the point where I left it all out there," said Efraimson, who stumbled in her final few steps and finished in 2:10.51 to Neale's 2:10.32. "I thought that I would have a chance, but I knew Amy had a great kick.

"I was so drained at that point because I knew I gave it all I had."

Both runners bettered the previous meet record for the race, finishing more than three seconds faster than the winning time for the 4A race.

That didn't surprise Neale.

"I knew that if I wanted to win this race it would take a really fast time," said Neale, who has been battling a strained hamstring and had her leg wrapped with ice after the race.

Lynelle Decker of Mountain View finished fourth in the 800 and took fifth in the 1,600.

• After setting a personal record of 43-7 in the triple jump the previous week, Marcus Ekeya of Columbia River improved to 46-1 and finished second.

"My goal was 44 from last week, and I PR'd by 2 feet," Ekeya said after finishing behind the 46-10 posted by Luke Plummer of Peninsula.

"My goal this year was to make it state. Second place is wonderful."

• Johna McEllrath of Prairie finished third in the girls shot put, concluding her high school career with eight state medals in throwing events.

"I'm completely OK with third," said McEllrath, who had a mark of 41-61/4 in the event won by Adara Winder of Bonney Lake at 45-91/4. "I feel like I competed and threw very well today."

• Grayson Anderson of Mountain View tied for third in the boys high jump, equalling the winning mark of 6-6.

"It's my season best, and I'm glad that I peaked at the right time," said Anderson. "I came close to clearing 6-7."