They didn’t have a single individual state champion Saturday at Mount Tahoma High.
Instead, the Kent-Meridian Royals had an entire team of ’em during the boys Class 4A state track & field meet.
Behind a balanced performance throughout their lineup, the Royals grabbed nine medals, yet not a single gold. Despite missing out on the individual top spots, it all added up to a golden finish for Kent-Meridian, which won the program’s first-ever team title with 45 points.
“It has been a goal of ours all along. Our goal was to come here and get a trophy,” said Kent-Meridian coach Ernie Ammons, who guided the Royals to a second-place team finish in 2009. “Nine state placers! Nine state placers!”
Kent-Meridian was followed closely by Mead (41) and third-place Wenatchee (37).
“Not a single (individual state champion). Not a single one,” said Kent-Meridian senior Brandon Harris, who took third in the triple jump (45-6), fifth in the long jump (22-6.5), and sixth in the 100 (11.09). “But a lot of us got second or third.”
Indeed many of the Royals did.
And though Kent-Meridian went without an individual champion, the Royals certainly received a golden performance by star Derrick Daigre in the 800 meter. Daigre won the event as a sophomore, but suffered a hamstring injury during last spring’s state meet. The lanky senior had planned on returning to the top of the podium Saturday. And if it wasn’t for a record-setting performance, he would have gotten there, too.
Daigre blistered the oval in the 800, establishing a new school record with a mark of 1:50.26. The time was good enough to set a new state record, except for one thing. Daigre’s opponent, Grant Grosvenor of Jackson, also set a state record. Grosvenor edged Daigre at the finish line with a time of 1:50.06.
“I knew I could have gotten him, but there was no room to pass (at the end),” said the University of Washington-bound Daigre, who won the event two years ago with a time of 1:52.57. “It’s upsetting. Disappointing. There are hundreds of more races out there, but this was the one I really wanted. It hurts to lose, especially when you plan for so long to win. I knew he was a good finisher, but you don’t get another shot at an 800 title.”
As frustrated as Daigre was, the classy Royal put his arm around Grosvenor moments after the loss and gave congratulations to his opponent.
“I could feel him breathing down my neck,” said Grosvenor.
Daigre, however, wasn’t done. He went on to take second in the 400 with a time of 49.37, which was just a hair off of what he delivered as a sophomore, when he also took second.
Kent-Meridian super sophomore Abu Kamara also got into the mix, taking second in the 110 hurdles (15.05) and eighth in the 300 hurdles (40.55). Kent-Meridian added to its point total in the 4 x 100 relay (David Jones, Harris, Jarey Suiter and Kamara) with a seventh-place finish (42.94).
Yet, the Royals didn’t officially clinch the team title until the final meet of the night, the 4 x 400 relay.
Kent-Meridian needed at least a fifth-place finish to guarantee itself the title. The combination of Suiter, Jones, Jordan Thompson Walker and Daigre didn’t leave anything for chance, either. The contingent torched the Mount Tahoma track to a tune of 3:22.59 for second place.
“I had to go out with a bang,” said Jones, who will play football at Portland State University next year. “We went to a lot of big meets this year. We went to Pasco, Oregon and when we got here, we knew we had to mean business.
“It took place today.”
The Royals, however, weren’t the only locals on the oval to shine on Saturday.
Kentwood’s BJ Arceneaux grabbed a fourth-place finish in the 100 meter with a blistering time of 10.90. Arceneaux was looking for even more in the 200, but strained a hamstring with 90 meters to go and had to finish the event with a slow limp and an eighth-place finish. The Kentwood senior was neck-and-neck with the leaders, when he fell hard to the ground all the while holding his right leg. After getting to his feet, Arceneaux had to limp to the finish line. Teammate Danny Lunder added a sixth-place finish in the 800 (1:55.93).
Kaid Tipton brought home Kentridge’s top finish, taking fifth in the 300 hurdles with a time of 39.87. Teammate Bralen Westendorf added a sixth-place finish in the 110 hurdles (15.39). Kentlake’s Jacob Holman chipped in an eighth-place finish in the pole vault (13 feet). Tahoma freshman Denham Patricelli, the lone Bear at the state meet, took ninth in the javelin with a toss of 179-4.
Outside of Daigre’s performance in the 800, Kentlake’s Shad Hall may have delivered the next finest showing among local athletes. Hall entered the state meet considered a threat to medal in the 300 hurdles, and brought home a silver with a time of 38.91. Hall’s time established a new school record.
Going into the last hurdle, it appeared Hall would grab gold, when he barely clipped the final hurdle. The slight miscue gave the edge to Mead’s Wes Bailey, who had remained step-for-step with the Kentlake hurdler. As the two approached the finish line, Hall dove the final few feet, but it wasn’t enough.
“I had it clean until that last hurdle,” lamented Hall. “(But) I took second in state and I never thought I would be here.”