3A district track: Team effort has Prairie soaring

Falcons claim 3A district title; Phillips finishes with three individual victories

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

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3A 4A District Track and Field meet Day 2

When Peter Zalk, James Phillips, and Josiah Schmidt went 1-2-4 in the first race of the day Thursday, it was a harbinger of things to come for the Prairie boys track and field team.

That performance in the 110-meter hurdles catapulted the Falcons to a district title at the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League championships at McKenzie Stadium.

"It seriously means everything to us," said Garrett Baltazar, who on Wednesday won the 400 meters and ran a leg on the winning 400-meter relay team. "Some of us have been working for four years to get here; all of us have been working for at least two years."

It was a team effort, but Phillips was the centerpiece. After winning the 300 hurdles on the first day of the meet, he followed that Thursday by winning the long jump and high jump in addition to his second-place finish in the 110 hurdles.

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

Zalk followed a second-place finish in Wednesday's pole vault with his victory in the hurdles.

"It wasn't hard at all," he said about winning the hurdles after finishing second to teammate Luke Middelstadt in the pole vault. "I'm training to be a decathlete, so if I can't bounce back, I shouldn't be a decathlete."

On Wednesday, Prairie got victories from Middelstadt in the pole vault; Baltazar in the 400; Phillips in the 300 hurdles; and in the 400 relay.

On Thursday, the Falcons got victories from Phillips in the long jump and high jump; Zalk in the 110 hurdles; and in the 1,600 relay.

Prairie finished with 175 1/2 points, while Columbia River was second with 129 and Kelso was third with 103.

"We were confident, not cocky," Baltazar said. "We knew we had the skills; we just had to apply ourselves."

Other highlights from Thursday's Class 3A meet:

• Kelso won the girls title, finishing with 182 points to 136 for runner-up Columbia River. Prairie was third with 96. Kiana Davis won the long jump, high jump, and triple jump in leading Kelso to the title.

• Mountain View's Danica Person and Columbia River's Emily Morgan continued their personal duel in the 200 meters.

On Wednesday, they ran side-by-side as Morgan won the 100 and Person edged Morgan at the end of the 400 relay. On Thursday, Person won the 200 in 25.36 seconds, while Morgan finished in 25.39.

"It was good competition," Person said. "Even before the race she was nice. She said, 'May the best sprinter win.' If I don't have any competition, I don't run as fast."

Morgan said: "I'll take a close second. I just wanted to qualify for regionals, and I did."

• Nicole Goecke of Prairie led from the start in winning the 1,600 meters, adding to her earlier 800 title. She finished in 5:05.75, more than seven seconds ahead of teammate Lindsay Tompkins.

"I think the whole field is probably tired from yesterday," Goecke said. "This is a day you have to push through because everybody feels it more."

• Marcus Gaylor won the 200 in 22.39 seconds, after winning the 100 the previous day. Jacob Austin of Prairie was second in 22.81.

• Nick Mounier led a 1-2-3 finish for Kelso in the boys 1,600.

• Phillips' victory in the long jump came in a tight five-way battle. His winning mark of 20-11 1/2 was only 10 1/2 inches better than the fifth-place finisher.

Ryker Gilbert of Mountain View was second at 20-8 1/2, and also finished second in the discus behind teammate Ryan Tonder.