SHELTON — With one sentence Saturday, Nicole Goecke summed up high school sports.
"You don't realize how important it is until you lose it," the Prairie High School junior said.
Goecke had been disqualified in the girls 800-meter preliminaries Friday at the Class 3A bi-district meet at Shelton High School. She was reinstated Saturday morning and proceeded to dominate the field in the event, advancing to the state meet.
Goecke finished in 2 minutes, 18.34 seconds, well ahead of the 2:21.14 posted by second-place Shawna Troupe of Kelso. Prairie's Lindsay Asplund finished sixth, also qualifying for state.
The top six competitors in each event at the 3A bi-district meet advance to next week's state competition at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
Goecke, who on Friday also won the 1,600 meters, was happy simply to have an opportunity. She initially had been disqualified in the 800 for twice stepping on the inside line of the track while running in a pack coming around the turn.
"There was no advantage gained, and she didn't disrupt the other runners," Prairie coach Curtis Crebar said. "There's the rule, and there's the spirit of the rule.
"What really decided it was the guy who was watching said, 'I'm not sure if she did it on her own or if she was moved there (by the pack).' "
The officials reversed their decision and added Goecke to the field, creating a nine-person race.
"My coaches fought hard for me," Goecke said. "I wouldn't be here without them.
"I just wanted to run my hardest, because I was about to not have it. You can't take it for granted."
Other highlights from the 3A bi-district meet:
• The Prairie boys won the team title with 106 points, while Columbia River finished second with 67.
The Falcons' victory included two eventful relay races.
In the 400-meter relay, the team of Ja Mariay McDonald, Jacob Austin, Garrett Baltazar, and Colton Prestwich won in 43.37, edging Lakes' 43.43.
But in the 1,600 relay, the Falcons were disqualified for a false start.
• Mountain View's Danica Person finished second in the girls 100 and 200, but the highlight of her day was a victory in the 400-meter relay.
Person came from behind on the final leg as the team of Neesha Godbole, Emma Walton, Hanna Walton, and Person finished in 50.02, edging Decatur by .02 seconds.
"We talked about it before," Hanna Walton said. "As long as we're close, Danica can get 'em."
Walton finished behind Columbia River's Emily Morgan in the 100. Morgan ran a 12.68 to Person's 12.79, with both runners well ahead of the field.
• Luke Middelstadt led the way as Prairie dominated the boys pole vault competition.
Middelstadt won the event with a personal record of 14 feet, 4 inches. Spencer Shear of Hazen was second at 13-9, followed by Prairie's Peter Zalk and Aleksandr Salfetnikov.
"I was having fun," said Middelstadt, who qualified for his first state meet. "When you have fun, you do well."
• Zalk won the 110 hurdles in a time of 15.06, with teammate James Phillips finishing second in 15.53.
Phillips qualified for state in four individual events: Long jump, high jump, 110 hurdles, and 300 hurdles.
• Austin Blankenship of Columbia River won the boys 3,200 in 9:45.17, while Lindsay Tompkins of Prairie outlasted runner-up Ana Delgadillo of Columbia River to win the girls 3,200.
• Matt Delisle of Fort Vancouver finished third and Darius Bredwood of Hudson's Bay was fourth in the boys triple jump.
• Marcus Gaylor of Columbia River finished second in the boys 100 and the 200.
• Ryan Tonder and Ryker Gilbert of Mountain View both qualified for state in the boys discus. Tonder finished third with a mark of 138-8; Gilbert was fourth at 134-6.