Prairie’s Phillips loves challenge at 3A district track meet

Long jumper/high hurdler wins 300 hurdles

By Greg Jayne, Columbian Opinion Editor



James Phillips must have a little bit of masochist in him.

What else could lead an accomplished long jumper and 110-meter hurdler to add the 300 hurdles to his repertoire?

“Not many want to do it, and that makes me want to do it,” the Prairie High School junior said. “I hear a lot of people talk negatively about it, but you can’t be afraid of it.”

Phillips, a newcomer to the event, won the 300 hurdles Wednesday at the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League track and field championships at McKenzie Stadium. He finished in 40.57 seconds, edging the 40.80 posted by top-seeded Mohamed Conteh of Fort Vancouver.

On Thursday, the final of two days for the district meet, Phillips will compete in the long jump and the 110 hurdles. He ranks second among the state’s Class 3A athletes in the long jump, and fifth in the 110 hurdles.

The top four finishers in each event at the 3A district meet advance to next week’s bi-district meet at Shelton High School. That competition will determine berths to the state meet.

Other highlights from the 3A meet:

• Marcus Gaylor of Columbia River got the day off to a fast start by winning the boys 100 meters in 10.98 seconds. Colton Prestwich of Prairie was second in 11.24.

“I thought I ran pretty well,” said Gaylor who also is the top seed in Thursday’s 200 meters. “I’ll be looking at the state times and trying to keep with the people in Seattle.”

Gaylor has a season-best of 10.84 in the 100, which ranks third statewide among Class 3A runners.

• Columbia River’s Emily Morgan held off Mountain View’s Danica Person in the girls 100, winning in 12.37 to Person’s 12.56.

Person returned the favor in the 400-meter relay, staying in front of Morgan on the anchor leg to bring home first place for the Thunder.

• Nicole Goecke added to her haul of district titles by winning the girls 800 meters.

Goecke, a junior who is a three-year letter winner for Prairie’s perennially powerful girls basketball program, finished in 2:15.57. Lindsay Asplund, also a Prairie basketball player, was second in 2:20.47.

“I was trying to get 2:15,” Goecke said. “When you start to feel it on your last lap, when it starts to hurt, you’re doing fine.”

• Miles Park of Columbia River continued to flirt with the two-minute mark in the boys 800. Park, who entered the meet with a season best of 2:00.43, won in 2:00.37.

• The Prairie team of Jacob Austin, Peter Zalk, Colton Prestwich, and Ja Mariay McDonald won the 400-meter relay in 42.97. Prairie entered the meet with a season-best of 43.42, which was ranked fifth in the state among 3A schools.

Zalk also finished second in the pole vault behind teammate Luke Middelstadt, who cleared 14 feet, 2 inches and beat Zalk by 4 inches.

• Shot putter Joseph Keller of Columbia River, ranked third in the state among 3A athletes, won the event with a mark of 50 feet. Teammate James Niemela was second at 48-4.

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