Zalk wins hurdles title; Ward-El 2nd in shot put

By Greg Jayne, Columbian Opinion Editor



Skyview's Aubrey Ward-El competes in the girls 4A shot put at the WIAA StateTrack & Field meet Friday at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. Ward-El placed second with a mark of 41 feet, 9 inches.

TACOMA — With a state title in hand, Peter Zalk attributed his success to a singular devotion.

“I just came here to glorify God,” the Prairie junior said after winning the Class 3A boys 110-meter hurdles at the state track and field meet at Mount Tahoma High School. “I live to glorify Jesus Christ. That’s why I’m here; that’s why I’m racing.”

Zalk finished in 14.97 seconds, ahead of the 15.03 posted by Jaz Smith from Franklin of Seattle. James Phillips of Prairie was fifth in 15.52.

Running with the letters HGA (“His Glory Alone”) written in black pen on his arm, Zalk jump out to an early lead and held it throughout.

He entered the competition as the top seed based upon bi-district qualifying times, and posted the best time in Thursday’s preliminaries.

But Zalk said he didn’t feel any pressure to live up to his status as the favorite.

“I told myself before the race that I’m racing with amazing athletes,” he said. “Winning state is just a perk; it’s not something I’m living for.”

In other highlights from the Class 4A, 3A, and 2A state meets:

• Phillips had a busy day with a fifth-place finish in the hurdles, a fourth-place finish in the high jump, and a qualifying race that moved him into Saturday’s finals of the 300 hurdles. He also will compete in the high jump on Saturday.

“It’s always amazing to make it to state,” he said. “I’m happy with the day; very excited.”

Phillips missed two of his attempts in the long jump while running the 110 hurdles finals. He came back for his final try and posted his best jump — 21 feet, 11 1/2 inches — to move up to fourth.

• Thanks to some good advice, Aubrey Ward-El of Skyview finished second in the 4A girls shot put.

“My coaches said to get a good throw out of the way with your first one, and then you don’t have to worry about it,” she said.

Ward-El recorded a strong mark of 41 feet, 9 inches, on her first attempt. After three rounds, as is protocol for throwing events, the field of 16 was whittled to nine finalists.

Ward-El was in second place, but she mistakenly thought all competitors started from scratch.

“I thought your first three throws didn’t count,” she said with a laugh. “Which is not true, luckily.”

It wasn’t until her sixth and final attempt that Ward-El was informed she had clinched at least second place. That opening mark stood up, surpassed only by a 46-8 by Courtney Hutchinson from Mead of Spokane. Jossilyn Blackman of Battle Ground finished eighth.

• Grayson Anderson, a senior from Camas, finished second in the 4A boys high jump, clearing 6-6.

After missing his first attempt at his opening height of 6 feet, he shook off some nerves and cleared 6-0, 6-2, 6-4, and 6-6 before missing three times at 6-8. Tyson Penn, a freshman from Federal Way, won at 6-8.

“I really wanted to win it,” Anderson said. “I thought I’d be pretty devastated if I lost, but I’m pretty content with it.

“As I get older I’m more calm and collected as the meet goes along. I’m like, ‘Do it just like you do in practice.’ “

Peyton Fredrickson of Skyview finished fourth at 6-2.

• Ryan Tonder of Mountain View almost waited too long to find his groove in the 3A boys discus. But once he did, he catapulted to a fourth-place finish.

“My beginning throws weren’t very good, and I barely made the final,” Tonder said. “I was ninth.”

His fifth throw moved him up to fifth place; his final attempt was a personal record by 9 feet and landed him in fourth.

“I was hoping for a PR,” Tonder said. “My No. 1 goal was to get into the finals.”

Tonder finished with a mark of 149-6 in an event won by Winston Hallam-Eames of Nathan Hale at 178-3.

• Alexis Fuller of Union and Alexa Efraimson of Camas coasted into the finals of the 4A girls 800 meters. Working simply to finish in the top three of her heat and ensure a spot in Saturday’s final, Fuller finished in 2:13.68, inches ahead of Efraimson.

On Thursday, Efraimson won the 1,600 in a meet-record time, with Fuller finishing second. Fuller is the defending 800 champion, while Efraimson finished second last year when Camas was at the 3A level.

• Devin Scott of Heritage finished third in the 4A boys triple jump.

Scott finished with a mark of 44-4 1/4 , behind Federal Way teammates Keenan Curran (46-1 1/4 ) and D’Londo Tucker (45-1 1/2 ).

Scott entered the competition with the ninth-best qualifying mark from last week’s bi-district meets.

• Jack Klodt of Hockinson was fifth in the 2A boys high jump with a mark of 6-3. Jayson Brocklesby of Sequim won at 6-5.