Cheney Free Press -


Blackhawk girls place third at regionals, send seven to state

Cheney’s Calvin Berstler and Eric Igbinoba also advance in hurdles, triple jump


Seven first place finishes propelled the Cheney girls track and field squad to a third-place finish last Friday at the regional gluing meet with teams from the Central Washington Athletic Conference. And while that’s something to celebrate, given seven Blackhawk girls made the trip to Prosser, it’s bittersweet for head coach Tom Stralser.

Stralser contends the meet was poorly run and officials likely “robbed” junior sprinter Chae Brown of a chance to compete at state in the 100-meter dash. Brown was not allowed to “check out” for a moment from the high jump competition by the event official in order to run the 100, a rule violation, Stralser said.

When she was finally allowed to leave, she arrived at the event that had started ahead of schedule, another fax paux, and had to rush to change from jumping shoes into running spikes, set her blocks – which didn’t get set well – and run. The result was a horrible start, something Brown almost overcame for a fourth-place finish, which would have netted her a state berth, but ended up fifth in 12.98 seconds, 2/100ths of a second behind fourth-place Angel Nkwonta of Pullman.

West Valley-Yakima’s Tierney Silliman was first in 12.64. Brown entered the meet tied for the fourth-fastest time in 2A state at 12.54.

Stralser and head coach Todd Hering protested to race officials, who refused to re-run the race. A protest to the state’s high school athletics governing body, the Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association, also went nowhere, even though Stralser said District 5/6 officials admitted their mistake.

“Other than that, we’re in pretty good shape for this Thursday and Friday (and Saturday),” Stralser said of the coming state meet at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma. “Except we won’t have the eight, or six, or four points from Chae we would have, which will make it tough to deal with Sehome.”

The Mariners have finished in the top-two as a team each year since 2007, winning titles in 2007, 2010 and 2011 and a favorite this year.

The Blackhawks still have weapons to give them a run, including Brown, who while missing the 100, captured first in the triple jump with a leap of 37 feet, 7 inches, third best in 2A. She was also third in the high jump at 5-foot even, and has gone higher.

Sanne Holland led the Blackhawks with first place finishes in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, the first in 5:27.77 (season best 5:09.63, third 2A) and the second in 11:46.90 (11:12.90, third 2A). Stralser knows she can go faster.

“Sanne hasn’t had a real test here in a long time so she’s ready to go,” he said.

Janessa Day was first in the 400 with a time of 58.57 (57.57, fourth 2A) and was second in the 200 in 25.75. Kendall Dunn was third in 26.41, but has a time of 25.60 this season, fifth in the state.

Dunn rebounded to win the 300-meter hurdles in a time of 44.75, and has a third-best 2A time of 44.15 already. The 4x200 relay team of Dunn, Johanna Sherman, Brown and Day turned in a season best 1:44.37 for first, running with what Stralser called “safe handoffs so we weren’t pushing the envelope.”

Erin Clark went 11-0 to capture the pole vault, and has a third-best in state 12-0 under her belt, going higher in practice Stralser said. Kinsey Pease continued her great late-season run, placing third in the javelin at 120-10 and heading to Tacoma with a season-best, 10th-ranked 121-05 at districts the previous week.

Both Cheney’s boys’ competitors at Prosser advanced to state competition, setting new records in two of three events. Eric Igbinoba had a new season best to win the triple jump, going 44-09 1/2, third in state, while Calvin Berstler also set a season best for second in the 300 hurdles in 39.66, eighth in state. Berstler also qualified in the 110 hurdles, finishing third in 15.76.

John McCallum can be reached at

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