TACOMA — His body battered and chin bloodied, Tyler Flanagan proudly wore the badges of honor that came by winning the Class 2A boys 300-meter hurdles in the most unforgettable of finishes Saturday.
And to no surprise to Flanagan, the Woodland High senior’s final strides — or final flight, in this case — of a state championship race that capped an impressive athletic career is what he’ll remember most.
“It was pretty amazing; you can’t make that up,” Flanagan said, winning the race in 39.38 seconds. “I was hoping to win, but didn’t think I’d have to dive to win.”
Dive is exactly what Flanagan did. Because he had to. And he chose to.
And like Flanagan, other athletes and onlookers inside Mount Tahoma Stadium will remember a finish unlike any other they witnessed Saturday, the final day of the 2A state track and field meet. The 2A boys 300 hurdles final had four hurdlers hit the track crossing the finish line, and the top four placers were separated by .48 of a second.
The finish was part of a dramatic day for Class 2A athletes. Washougal’s 4×100 relay team was awarded the state title after initially placing third when two teams got disqualified at the finish line.
But the theatrics didn’t start at the finish line for Flanagan.
Already a fourth-place medalist from Friday’s 110 hurdles final, Flanagan’s 300 race mid-day Saturday began by clipping the first hurdle and stumbled slightly before recovering his footing. He made up ground, however, with 150 meters to go, and in the final turn toward the finish line, Flanagan was neck-and-neck with Sir Carter of Black Hills. It’s the same competitor Flanagan has raced against throughout numerous postseason events. As two of 2A’s top hurdlers all season, Flanagan knew who — and what — he was up against.
“I knew it’d be close,” he said. “But it was my last race, and I wanted it.”
So much so, the race finish drew the loudest crowd reaction for its photo finish. Three other hurdlers hit the track surrounding Flanagan in lane 3, but the lead finisher was the Woodland senior with his Superman-style head-first post into the finish line. Official track and field rules state a runner crosses a race’s finish line when their torso first hits.
And Flanagan hit first.
A while later, Flanagan’s finish created a buzz throughout Mount Tahoma Stadium and on social media through videos and photographs. Even Flanagan couldn’t believe what he did, and how he did it.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” he said. “Instead of stumbling over the finish line, I decided to dive. And it worked out.
A three-sport athlete at Woodland all four years who will play football at Central Washington next season, Flanagan becomes Woodland’s first state champion in the hurdles. But he’s the second in his immediate family. He joins older sister, McKenna, as a track and field champion. McKenna Flanagan won the 2A girls javelin in 2016. Oldest sister, Jessica Flanagan, plays Division I softball at Portland State.
“The joke is I was the least-athletic in my family,” Tyler Flanagan said. “At least I have one under my belt now so I can compete with my sisters.”
The wait was well worth it for Washougal’s championship 4×100 relay.
Nearly 20 minutes went by before the Panthers learned it didn’t place third like the finish-line reader board showed.
In fact, the Panthers are champions.
The quartet of Kenny Kanthak, Arcey Harton, Brig Griffin, and Davy ran a 43.13-second relay of the 2A finals. They placed third behind winners Cheney and runner-up Franklin Pierce.
But a disqualification from what meet officials called unsportsmanlike conduct at the finish line by the top two teams meant Washougal got the title. Hockinson, the fourth-place finisher at 43.35, is officially second.
For Davy and his relay teammates, a lot of time elapsed before learning of their title approaching the award stand.
“It was a nice surprise,” said Davy, a top-4 finisher in the 100 and 200 Saturday. “… I was trying to get us to the finish line. I wanted to make up places on people but they were fast and there’s a lot of fast people.”
3-for-3 for Rhoads
Columbia River’s Giovanna Rhoads got emotional after each day and after each of her jumping competitions at the state meet.
But three events led to three top finishes for the WSU-bound senior. Her 37-foot, 5.50-inch mark in triple jump Saturday gave Rhoads her second runner-up finish. She tied for second in Thursday’s high jump, and was third in Friday’s long jump.
In addition to Rhoads’ runner-up triple jump finish, pole vaulter Grace Gordon placed second, and Luci Ianello finished fourth in the 800 to help the Chieftains place fifth.
Saturday, Rhoads needed her third jump of the preliminaries just oo advance to finals, and after that, climbed to second.
“I had a lot more speed,” she said, “and was really good on the board — almost too good on the board at some points; I scratched a few times, and that was hard to see. But everything came together how it should today.”
• Ridgefield’s Kyle Radosevich placed second in the 2A 3,200 meters (9:16.42) breaking the school record held by 2017 Ridgefield state champion Silas Griffith. Teammate Bryan Tavera, the defending 2A triple jump champion, placed second (45-1.25).
• Washougal had five athletes place in the top 8: Amelia Pullen (fourth, 3,200), Katie Stevens (fifth, pole vault), Gabriel Dinnel (sixth, 3,200), Koy Chaston (fifth, 400; third, 800).
• Hockinson’s top individual placer was Allyson Peterson (eighth, 3,200).
• Woodland’s Jason Bowman became the Beavers’ fourth top-3 field-event placer finishing third in the javelin (166-7).