The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Steve Salins

Three LRS tracksters compete at 2B State Championships


Photo courtesy of John McCallum/Cheney Free Press

Freshman Sydney Kinch (above) vaulted her way to a second-place finish in the pole vault at the 2B State Championships on the Eastern Washington University campus on May 24.

Track isn't an easy sport. You're very alone-run, throw, jump-all by yourself. No offensive line to block for you, no open teammate to pass your shot to, no outfielder to back you up or catch your pole in the vault.

Alone-out in front of everyone in shorts and a light jersey. It isn't like football where you cover everything up-including your face-so no one is quite sure when you either do well or make a mistake.

And track is not much of a team sport; the only "team" in track is relay teams, but even there you're running all by yourself, and then you have to make sure that stick gets to the next guy so they can run the next leg by themselves. And God forgive if you drop the stick or let another runner catch you during your part of the race. If you throw or jump, likely as not, they make you perform so far away that no one can see you without a long hike.

So when you make it to the 2B State Championship Meet, and Roos Field is full of screaming fans, you're still alone-on the biggest stage of the season. Sure, there are parents, grandparents, and maybe best friends yelling, but it's usually "c'mon, you can catch that guy." Well, last weekend was that meet at Eastern Washington University. Three Broncos stepped on Roos Field in front of the crowd to chase the podium and show what they can do.

Except for a couple of hiccups, freshman Sydney Kinch has been a dominant force pole-vaulting, running and jumping on the season. At the qualifying District Meet, she pole-vaulted a foot below her best, but it was good enough to pass on to State.

On Friday morning at 10, the woman's 2B pole-vault began. As is often the case for better vaulters, she passed at lower heights until she entered the competition at 8'-6." She cleared 9-0 and 9'-6" with fewer misses than her nearest competitor. When the bar was set at 9'-9", she had to either clear it with fewer attempts than her competitor, or if both missed with three attempts, she would top the medal stand.

Unfortunately from an LRS point of view, the top-rated vault finalist (Brook Freise from Willapa Valley at 10'-06") had left the vaulting runway to compete in a hurdles race, and wasn't present for the 9'6" bar. At that point, Kinch appeared to have a shot at first place depending on what happened when she returned. Not many knew that Freise had cleared 10' at all but two meets all season. When she returned, the bar was set at 9'6" and every Kinch fan hoped she would miss all three attempts, but she did not, and the Willapa Valley competitor iced first place and Kinch placed second at State.

Sophomore Julia Klein took on the tough 800 and 400-meter runs throughout the season. She entered the shot put in the last four meets, beginning at 21' and throwing her personal best (30'-01") at the District Meet, barely missing a trip to State. Her 400-meter times in seven meets were credible (66.8 to a best of 63.8), but not enough to get to State. However, in the last seven meets, Klein ran the 800 meters beginning by running a 2:41.5 at first, but steadily improving to 2:29.6 (her personal best) and qualifying for State.

The State Championships require a runner to compete in a preliminary heat on one day, but earn their way into the final race (8 competitors) the next day. On Friday, in the 800-meter preliminary heat, Klein finished 11th with a time of 2:33.32. If she ran her personal best in that race, she could have finished 8th, which would have moved her into the final on Saturday. As it was, Julia posted an excellent improving season record in two very difficult races to run.

Over the course of the season, Conrad Ziemer dropped his 800-meter time from 2:21.88 to an astounding personal best of 2:02.93 at the District Meet. Two seconds doesn't sound like much, but as an athlete approaches two minutes in a half-mile race, each lowered tenth becomes very difficult. Every meet since the first of the season saw Conrad setting a new personal record in this event, except for a hiccup (2:08.27) at Ritzville in the Sub-District Meet, but that was good enough to push him on to the District Meet.

It was at District at Central Valley High School where a 3rd place finish and his personal best was good enough to punch his State ticket.

Like Klein, Conrad faced a Friday preliminary heat, possibly leading to a Saturday State Final. As is his custom (Conrad is a fine sprinter), he broke from his Lane 3 start to run with the leaders around the first turn. Partly down the backstretch, however, he got temporarily boxed in a group that visibly slowed him and prevented him from running the first lap in front as is his pattern. It was there in the first lap that the time he lost most likely resulted in his 9th place finish, one place and .29 seconds from finishing 8th and a place in the State 800 meter final.

Ziemer is more than a distance runner; his 200 and 400-meter best times this season would put him close to earning a ticket to State in those events as well. He has the speed necessary to remain competitive in both the 400 and 800 meters.


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