The discus is one of your more difficult field events to master.
That awkward spinning, the necessary technique combined with the proper footwork. It takes multiple repetitions over a long duration just to get the basics down.
Unless you’re Northwest Christian’s Karen Bulger.
“I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it, but I haven’t really practiced it too much this season,” the senior said. “I was actually pretty surprised how well I did.”
Bulger, better known as one of the state’s top javelin throwers, displayed just how gifted a track and field athlete she is by claiming the discus at the 50th annual Bob Shaner Track and Field Invitational at a rain-soaked Tumwater District Stadium on Friday.
Bulger, the defending Class 2B state javelin champion, won the discus with a throw of 117 feet, 11 inches and then successfully defended her javelin title at the meet with a throw of 135-10.
It was a far cry from her personal best of 161-5 set last year at the Pasco Invitational, but still 27 feet more than any other competitor.
“The weather hasn’t been ideal,” said Bulger, who has committed to the University of Hawaii. “You just try to adjust to it. After all, it is Washington. This isn’t that new to us.”
The windy downpour wasn’t nearly as big a concern for Bulger as was the mad scramble to get from event to event.
“I feel like I’ve ran the 1,600,” Bulger said. “Only I’m not getting credit for it.”
W.F. West’s Nike McClure, who was just as busy, could relate.
Six weeks removed from leading the Bearcats to the Class 2A state basketball championship and being named state player of the year, McClure is finding the same success on the track that she did on the court.
A rare combination of speed and strength, McClure is the state leader in the 200 and the shot put.
She captured both events at the Shaner Invite — posting a shot put throw of 42-61/2 to best Bulger (41-4) and edging Tumwater’s Brooke Feldmeier in the 200 meters by crossing the line in a speedy 25.49.
McClure, who was named the event’s top female athlete, also provided one of the meet’s highlights by helping W.F. West win the girls 4x100 relay with Raegan Nelson, McKenna Moon and Hannah Tak.
By the time McClure, who ran the anchor, received the baton, the Bearcats were a distant third.
“I just had to find another gear,” McClure said. “At first I just wanted to get second. I wasn’t so sure I crossed first.”
McClure reeled in Yelm’s Rheese Dolgash before nipping Sydney Sauls of Black Hills, stopping the clock in 51.21. The Wolves finished second at 51.25.
Remarkably, McClure, who committed to Washington State University on a basketball scholarship, wasn’t even going to turn out for track this season.
“Basketball has always been my passion,” McClure said. “I love track, but it’s been more like a hobby for me. I was going to focus on school and get ready for basketball. Then I realized I owed it to my teammates to be out there.”
While the girls relay featured a dramatic finish, the boys side was over before the moment River Ridge’s DeJuan Frye took the baton from Chris Leiba, who impressively pulled away in the second turn and opened up plenty of daylight before Frye finished the event in 42.80.
Michael Key and Ike Morton ran the first two legs.
“It all starts with Michael,” Frye said. “By the time I start running, the only thing I have to worry about is finishing. Those guys do all the work.”
Frye, who earned the honor of top male athlete, shined outside the relay team, winning the 100 (11.21) and 400 (50.93) and finishing second in the 200, which was won by Dawun Ray of Black Hills.
“Today felt really good,” Frye said. “The toughest thing was the elements. One second it’s sunny, the next you’re soaked. It was all over the place.”
Olympia won the combined team title with a score of 198. Black Hills was second with 165, while Tumwater finished third with 161.
The Bears received a pair of titles from Sofia Kane, who broke her own meet record in the 1,600 (5:03.86) and successfully defended her crown in the 3,200.
Peter Kesting (800) and Riley Jorgensen (javelin) also captured titles for Olympia.
Tumwater senior Lane Russell won the triple jump (47-8) while Capital's Ryan Chase took the long jump (22-4).
His sister, Peyton Russell, accomplished the same feat on the girls side, winning the long jump in 18-5 and the triple in 36-33/4.
“I just try to follow (Lane’s) lead,” said Peyton Russell, a sophomore. “I figured if I am even remotely in the same vicinity, I’m doing pretty good.”
The Thunderbirds also received victories in the girls 100 with Feldmeier’s time of 15.60 and from Daniel Dickason (300 hurdles).
Additional champions in the girls events included Ashley Robbins of Black Hills (100), Yelm’s Karley Lawton (300 hurdles) and Capital’s Payton McGuin (800).
River Ridge’s Tyler Chisholm (high jump) and Sean Roberts (shot put), and Yelm’s Chase Olsen (discus) took home titles on the boys side.