4A track: Baraiac clears hurdle to reach state meet

Heritage senior advances in 110 hurdles

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer

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KENT — By now, his race was over for several minutes, but Heritage’s Denis Baraiac still sat in the athletes’ staging area near the start/finish line alone.

Hands over his face, and wiping away happy tears. Minutes earlier, those same hands were fists of celebration at the finish line.

The emotions for real for Baraiac on Thursday at the first day of the 4A bi-district track and field meet. In his only event of the two-day meet at Kent-Meridian High School’s French Field, and in his final opportunity to qualify for state, he did.

His time of 15.46 seconds in the third heat of the 110 hurdles — good for fifth place — earned him his first trip to Star Track next week in Tacoma. All top eight times and marks from bi-district advance to state.

Thursday was even a first time competing in the hurdles for Barbiac at bi-districts. Last year, he was 15th in the triple jump (39-11.50), but elected to focus on the hurdles.

That decision paid off.

“I really wanted this, and it came true,” said Baraiac, a senior. “Getting on the podium at state is the goal now.”

Getting on the podium would be a major achievement for Skyview’s Hannah Shirley, given the season’s she’s had. Thursday was only the third time the senior’s competed in the pole vault because of injury. She sat out nearly four months after spraining her right ankle in club volleyball and is battling tendinitis in her left wrist.

Yet, she was able to clear 10 feet to place third and get her second straight state berth. She, teammate Maddie Bretzing (9-9), and Camas’ Riley Truitt (9-9) will represent Clark County in the 4A state competition.

Shirley might vault in pain, but her positive attitude and perseverance is what keeps her going.

“When it comes down to it,” said Shirley, a Snow College (Utah) volleyball commit, “I’m not letting it get in my way.”

Maton kicks to win

In five 1,600-meter races this spring, Daniel Maton is undefeated.

That includes Thursday when he used the final 500 meters to take the lead for good, the outkicked the pack for take the race in a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 18.66 seconds.

Just like Maton did in last week’s 4A Greater St. Helens district meet, Maton sat back in the pack, as Kentlake’s Hezekiah Goodwin, who finished 10th, had a wide lead through two laps.

As the gap shrank, Maton eventually grabbed the lead and with the victory in his sight with 50 meters to go, gave a quick glance to see how close his competitors were behind him.

Not as close as he thought.

“I thought they’d kick a little harder,” he said.

First, a 4A GSHL championship, now a bi-district championship. What’s next, just in time for state?

“Hopefully,” Maton said, “another championship. We’ll see.”

Teammate Yacine Guermali was seventh.

Scare for Titans

The biggest smiles on the faces of Union’s girls 800 relay were actually smiles of relief.

That’s because the Titans still qualified for state in a winning time of 1:41.02, but not after a botched exchange in the third leg.

Makayla Woods, who is battling illness, got the baton just in time to Jai’lyn Merriweather — a step before Merriweather left the exchange zone. In fact, Merriweather stopped her momentum entirely to take the baton.

“It was quite scary,” Merriweather said. “(Woods) had no voice, and I think he was winded at the end. I took off from the mark … and then was like, ‘Wait, I still don’t have the baton’

“I didn’t hear her at all.”

All was OK, though. With Merriweather’s speed, she regained the lead after 75 meters, and it was all Union from there, as Dai’lyn Merriweather ran the anchor leg.

“We’ll learn from it, correct it, and move on,” said Jai’lyn Merriweather, who also ran a personal-best 53.80 in the 400 later in the meet. “I’m glad we finished strong and pulled through.”

Around the track

For the second straight week, Skyview’s Conner Jensen tossed a personal-best in the shot put. His mark of 61-10.25 bested South Kitsap’s Nolan Van Amen (61-2). The duo were the only throwers to surpassed the 60-foot mark. … Battle Ground’s Curtis Stradley went over the 200-foot barrier in the javelin for the third time this season, throwing 201-4 to win the boys javelin. Heritage’s Gavin Lee, a recent Eastern Washington track signee, was second (188-2). … A pair of field athletes got French Field crowd attention: Kentridge’s Tyler Cronk won the boys high jump at 7-2. He missed all three attempts at 7-2. Skyview’s Ethan Gould was second with a personal-best (6-6). Curtis’ Lexi Ellis won the girls triple jump at 42-7.25.