As much as Cheney girls’ track head coach Tom Stralser is uncertain about his team’s chances at winning a sixth consecutive Great Northern League and District 7 championship, he does feel pretty good about some of the Blackhawks winning something a tad bigger – a state title.
Stralser thinks the Blackhawks have a chance to produce four, five or six 2A state champions at the Memorial Day meet at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma. Cheney returns five All-GNL first team members, one of whom did win a state title last year in the 3,200 meters – Colorado State University bound runner, senior Sanne Holland.
Two more, senior Janessa Day and junior Kendall Dunn finished third in the 400 and the 300 hurdles. Together with points from the third-place 4x200 relay team – consisting of Day, Dunn and returning junior Chae Brown – the sixth-place 4x400 team – Day and Dunn again – and a fifth in the pole vault by returning senior Erin Clark it added up to a sixth-place team finish for the Blackhawks.
Stralser, 2012 GNL Coach of the Year, is uncertain about Cheney’s district title chances because he looks over the league landscape and sees a lot of improved teams while the Blackhawks numbers are down somewhat. But the returning top-end talent has already shown it can place high at larger meets, taking third at the West Valley Invitational and finishing behind 4A schools Moses Lake and Richland last Saturday at Ephrata’s Ray Cross Invitational.
“Big meet team? We’ve already shown what we can do,” Stralser said.
Day led on the track with first places finishes in the 200 (27.37) and 400 (1:00.50), the final mark giving her the fastest 2A women’s time in the state so far this year. Holland won the 800 (2:26.88) and was second in the 1,600 (5:09.62), also a top 2A state time.
Brown was second in the 100 (13.33) while Dunn took second in the 100 hurdles (17.32). Stralser said Dunn is learning the transition from the longer 300 hurdles to the shorter race, adjusting her tempo and timing.
“I’m expecting she could run in the 15s this year if she can put it all together,” he said.
Dunn did run the 300, but a paperwork snafu prevented her winning time of 48.5 from being scored. The mark would have moved her up from the third fastest 2A state time to the second.
Cheney’s other individual top-10 finish on the track came from junior Mariah Brenton, sixth in the 1,600 (5:43.20) while the 4x100 team of Courtney Schwendiman, Johanna Sherman, Breanne Johnson and Brown was fifth in 54.29.
“All these girls will run faster,” Stralser said of his track contingent.
Brown led Cheney in the field events by winning the triple jump with a leap of 35 feet, 6 1/2 inches, ranking her second in the state behind Deer Park’s Anna Cartee at 36 feet. Clark was second in the pole vault (10-00), but has a third overall state mark of 11 feet and Stralser expects she’ll eventually top 12.
Junior Kinsey Pease was third in the javelin (111-06) and Schwendiman third in the triple jump (32-03 1/2). Sophomore Jamie Bradley was fourth in the pole vault (8-00), senior Kendall Case sixth in the javelin (102-09), junior Sasha Johnson eighth in the discus (83-05) and sophomore Kayla Lemlin eighth in the high jump (4-08) to round out Cheney’s top-10 field places.
“We have a bunch of young girls we’re going to have to count on,” Stralser said of Cheney’s field line up.
Like the boys team, some of those went north Saturday to Colville’s Ezra Gordon Invitational, with Cheney tying Northport for 11th overall. Sophomore Brittany Meyer was third in the pole vault (7-06), sophomore Zania Stewart fourth in the triple jump (31-03) while freshman Savannah Hyde set a new personal record for seventh (30-06) in the triple and was seventh in the 200 (30.75). Freshman Bailey Gardner was eighth in her first time throwing the javelin (80-06), Claire Arnesmeyer 10th in the 3,200 (15:39.00) with the team of Marissa May, Jordan Bobzein, Amberly Mitchell and Hyde fifth in the 4x200 in 2:03.61).
“Not a bad weekend,” Stralser said.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.