TACOMA — Double-bandaged and all, Tobias Merriweather had the heart of a champion all weekend, his father and Union High School’s sprints coach said.
The teenager questioned if he’d be able to compete at all, much less his premier event — the 200 meters — at the 4A/3A/2A state track and field championships after restraining his right hamstring at regionals last weekend.
But that’s where the heart of the champion came in Saturday for Merriweather. Running in his fourth race of the weekend, he saved his best for last. He clocked a personal-best 21.80 seconds to win the Class 4A state championship in the 200 meters.
As he crossed the finish line at Mount Tahoma Stadium in a steady drizzle, Merriweather let out a yell in celebration.
“Just to be out here,” Merriweather said afterward, “I’m blessed.”
Merriweather, a Notre Dame football signee, capped his high school career off with bookends for state titles. He also won a football state title his freshman year at Union in 2018.
The Merriweather family has a strong tradition of success in the sprints. Tobias’ older sisters, Jai’lyn and Dai’lyn, won multiple state titles and set 4A state meet records at Union. His father, Dom Merriweather, was an Oregon high school state champion in the sprints.
Sharing a post-race hug with his father, he cherished what the past four years have meant to have his father also go out coaching another champion in the family.
“Just to end it like this for him is what I really wanted to do this year,” Merriweather said.
But Saturday’s title didn’t come easy.
Merriweather has dealt with hamstring issues in both legs in recent months. He first injured his right hamstring at the All-American Bowl in January. Then a left hamstring strain stalled the start of his spring track and field season before reinjuring his right hamstring last weekend.
Once at state, Merriweather ran in four races — preliminaries and finals of the 200 and 100, but didn’t run in Union’s 4×100 relay preliminary Friday. He placed second in Saturday’s 100-meter final (10.94) — hours before his 200 race.
Saturday morning, Merriweather did everything possible to get the hamstring ready, including stretching, massage and suction cup therapy.
“We tried to get it better,” he said, “and it performed.”
And so did Merriweather. Not known for his start out of the blocks, Merriweather credited Federal Way’s Isaiah Davis — Friday’s 100-meter champion and also in the 200 final — for pushing Merriweather to have a great start in his final high school race.
Then Merriweather took it from there.
“I knew if I was with him, I’d have a good chance to PR and win,” he said. “I stayed with him through the curve and let my long legs take over.”
FIRST-YEAR SHOT PUTTER, SECOND-PLACE FINISH
Savea Mansfield was shocked, but also stoked.
“I’m really excited,” the Washougal High senior said, placing second in the 2A girls shot put with a top throw of 37 feet, 3.75 inches. “I really wish I would’ve started throwing earlier.”
Mansfield is a first-year shot putter. Before this spring, she focused mainly on distance races and hurdles. She’s a three-sport athlete at Washougal, but also frequently does weightlifting. That’s why she figured she’d give shot put a try in her final track and field season.
“I think I’m pretty strong,” she said, “so why not try a throwing event?”
It proved to be the right call. She improved nearly six feet since her first meet of the season March 22. Saturday, four of her six throws were over her previous personal-best mark on the season of 35-9.50, including her best toss on her fifth attempt. Sehome’s Dawson Rothenbuhler won in 42-4.
THREE MORE SECONDS (PLACES, THAT IS) FOR 2A GSHL
Washougal finished tied for sixth in the 2A girls team title race (31 points) that included 13 points from Jamie Maas. The sophomore ran a personal-best 2:15.01 in the 800 early Saturday, then capped it off hours later with a fifth-place finish in the 400.
“I’m proud of myself for PR-ing (in the 800),” Maas said, “because I didn’t think I’d be able to since I just ran (Friday). “Some of the girls in the race really pushed me and I like having that pressure because it pushes me farther than my own self could.”
Two days after placing third in the 2A boys 1,600 meters, Columbia River’s Daniel Barna did one better Saturday by placing second in the 3,200 (9:17.43). He was in pain after the race, but in a good way, he said. It led to a personal-best time by 19 seconds.
“That’s harder than the mile, I’d say,” Barna said of the eight-lap 3,200. “The mile is all in the legs, and this is all up here (in the chest) and it’s exhausting. … I knew I could break 9:20, and I did. It was hard.”
Hockinson’s Cody Wheeler, in his second year as a track and field athlete, placed second in the 2A boys javelin (181-3). He was ranked as high as 11th nationally after a throw last week of 201-4 at districts. He said his senior season is still a success, despite throwing 20 feet below his personal-best Saturday.
“I definitely do,” Wheeler said. “Last year was my first year of track, and I threw 177 (feet), so almost 30 feet onto my PR. It’s a blessing and I’m glad. I worked pretty hard for it. My mom helped me along the way, she’s my coach so I’m happy to be where I am today.”
AROUND THE TRACK (AND FIELD): Camas’ Aiden Montigny was a busy Papermaker on Saturday, competing in the 4A long jump (fifth place), 400 (fourth), and 200 (third). His 22.18 time in the 200 is 0.1 seconds off the school record. How does he stay physically and mentally fresh with so much going on? He gives thanks to his coaches. “They trained me for this,” Montigny said, “and helped me build my endurance so I can go back-to-back-to-back. Throughout the season, I’ve been doing it. Now it’s my time to do it here on the biggest station in Washington.” … Cole Logan’s third-place time (39.81) for Woodland in the 2A boys 300 hurdles was behind two top-10 nationally ranked times Saturday ran by Squalicum’s Andre Korbmacher (36.30) and Foster’s Lyricc Lopez (36.33). … Union’s Ariel Ammentop added a third-place 4A girls shot put finish to her Thursday state runner-up in the discus. She had a personal-best in the shot by 3 feet. … Two Evergreen girls placed in the top 5 in 3A: Grace Twiss (third, 300 hurdles) and Julia Ogelvie (fifth, javelin). … Two athletes had top-5 podium finishes in multiple sprints finals Saturday: Camas’ Madison Hubbard (third in 4A girls 100, sixth in 200) and Hockinson’s Enzo Oliverio (fourth in 2A boys 200, fifth in 100). … 13 meet records fell at Star Track XXXVIII between 4A, 3A and 2A.