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1A/2B/1B state track and field: Seton Catholic’s Alexis Leone doubles up as state champion in girls 3,200 meters

Leone is now a two-time state champ in the 1,600 and 3,200, also took third place in the 800

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 27, 2023, 2:36pm

YAKIMA — The heat bearing down on the Zaepfel Stadium track made Alexis Leone feel like her feet were on fire.

The elements presented a challenge for the Seton Catholic junior as she ran her final race of the Class 1A state track and field championships, the girls 3,200 meters, but was nothing more than a minor detail in Leone’s latest feat.

Leone repeated as the 1A girls 3,200 state champion, finishing the eight-lap distance event in 10 minutes, 59.26 seconds ahead of Port Townsend’s Aliyah Yearian in second place (11:10.38). Leone also won the 1A girls 1,600 on Thursday. Saturday’s result meant the junior is now a two-time state champion in both events.

“I was in it to win it, like all the rest of the girls, of course,” Leone said. “I was just trying to keep first, stay there and be relaxed. I missed what I wanted to hit a little bit, but the weather is a factor. … The track was just burning.”

Much like the 1,600 on Thursday, Yearian trailed close behind Leone over multiple laps of the 3,200 before Leone methodically widened the gap on Yearian in the sixth and seventh laps to pull ahead comfortably.

After crossing the finish line, Leone made a beeline for an officials tent to cool down in the shade.

“I actually enjoyed it. I think it was amazing. The competition brings out the best in me. I feel like it moves me in every possible way,” Leone said. “Not being bored out there, not having the mental battle, just like the physical battle and just having a good time, meeting new people, seeing where they’re from … I had a great time overall.”

Earlier Saturday morning, Leone took third place in the 800 with a personal record of 2:17.65. South Whidbey’s Naomi Atwood won the state title in 2:15.23 and Yearian finished second (2:16.63).

It was Leone’s first attempt at the distance triple crown (800, 1,600, 3,200) after adding the 800 to her plate this season. By finishing third in a competitive field and earning a PR, the result “made my day,” Leone said.

“I was in there to perform and see what I could do,” Leone said. “And, of course, a PR — my coach gives us little treats if we PR and that’s a lot of motivation for me. That competition was next level for me. I didn’t do it last year because I thought, just leave the one-mile (and) 3,200, not burn myself out so quickly. But I think this year, I had a great experience.”

Other local competitors reaching the podium Saturday included La Center sprinter Davari Grauer placing third in the 1A boys 100 (11.11 seconds); Castle Rock’s Samantha Farland taking third in the 1A girls javelin with a mark of 115 feet, 7 inches; Aidan Sweeney of King’s Way Christian taking fourth in the 1A boys 110 hurdles (15.65); and Castle Rock finishing fourth in the 1A girls 800 relay (1:47.41).

La Center’s Grauer grabs pair of third-place finishes

While many athletes sat anxiously waiting out a lightning delay that paused track and field events for an hour Saturday afternoon, La Center’s Davari Grauer and several others found another way to warm up.

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By playing basketball inside nearby Eisenhower High School’s gymnasium, he said.

“We were hooping in the gym, we were having a little dunk contest in there so it really warmed up my legs in the meantime,” Grauer said. “I came out and did that, so I was happy I didn’t have to warm up as hard.”

When competition resumed, Grauer finished off his high school career with a third-place finish in the 1A boys 200 and a PR of 22.30, a satisfying result for the senior sprinter.

“I was so happy,” Grauer said. “I looked around at the clock, I was like, ‘oh man, I might’ve PR’d’ and then boom. … It was my last race in high school; it’s real big to PR there.”

Along with placing third in the 100 hours earlier with a time of 11.11 seconds, Grauer stacked a pair of podium finishes and improved on last season’s results in the same events when he placed eighth in the 100 and 13th in the 200 at state.

The only nitpick Grauer had was at the start of the 100 when he stumbled coming out of the blocks, but, he managed to regroup in lane one and take third.

“I was a little disappointed with the 100 because I stumbled off the start again, but the comeback was nice,” Grauer said. “Taking third was a pretty huge relief after that. In the (200), I was obviously way more happy because I PR’d here and had no errors.”

Seattle Academy’s Reggie Witherspoon III set 1A state records in both the boys 100 and 200, clocking times of 10.83 and 21.45 seconds, respectively.

Also highlighting Saturday’s local results was Castle Rock’s Casie Kleine winning the 1A girls 400 in a time of 58.30 seconds; Castle Rock’s Samantha Farland taking third in the 1A girls javelin with a mark of 115 feet, 7 inches; Aidan Sweeney of King’s Way Christian taking fourth in the 1A boys 110 hurdles (15.65); and Castle Rock finishing fourth in the 1A girls 800 relay (1:47.41).

Additionally, La Center’s Carter Sherry finished fifth in the 1A boys 800 (1:58.30), Malachi Wallway finished seventh in the 1A boys 400 (53.06) and Columbia White-Salmon’s Ella Zimmerman took eighth in the 1A girls 300 hurdles (48.30).