OLYMPIA — Dejuan Frye says this is the time of year — the week prior to the state track and field championships — that he doesn’t worry about times, instead focusing on finishing among the top three and qualifying.
Of course, that’s the mindset when the River Ridge High School junior is standing still. He sings a different tune once he’s on the track. It is there Frye finds another gear the moment someone tries to pass him.
“There’s no pressure today,” Frye said with a grin, “but you still want to stay ahead of the pack, especially if you’re getting pushed in your own backyard.”
Frye swept the 100, 200 and 400 meters at the Class 2A District 4 championships, helping the Hawks claim the overall boys team title at Ingersoll Stadium on Friday.
Frye’s biggest competition? Teammate and fellow junior Chris Leiba, who finished second in both the 100 and 200 and third in the 400.
“I’ve been chasing Dejuan for a while,” said Leiba, who also teamed with Frye, Michael Key and Ika Morton to capture the 4x100 relay in a speedy 42.50 seconds. “I haven’t caught him yet, but I’m getting closer.”
Leiba will get one more chance as the duo, along with all the other top three finishers in each event, advance to the state championships, which begin on Thursday in Mount Tahoma Stadium.
The Hawks posted 112 points — nearly doubling runner-up R.A. Long, which finished with 64 points. Capital was third with 59.
While Frye ended the event with a fistful of medals, his day actually got off to a slow start in the 100.
“First, the (starter’s) gun didn’t go off. All we heard was a click,” Frye said. “Then we had a block slip. It was just a funky start.”
Once Frye finally got into stride, there was no catching him. He won the 100 in a time of 11.16, the 200 in 22.72 and the 400 in 49.26.
One of the few times he did slow down was to watch the girls 400, which defending state champion Brooke Feldmeier of Tumwater won by daylight, stopping the clock in 57.65 — more than three seconds ahead of any other runner.
“She just makes it look so easy,” Frye said about Feldmeier’s performance.
Feldmeier also captured the 100 hurdles (15.34) and finished second to W.F. West’s Nike McClure in the 200 as the Thunderbirds took the girls team title 121.5 points.
Capital’s Ryan Chase was also a dual champion, winning the long jump (22 feet, 1 inch) and triple jump (45-10).
The junior entered the day as the 2A leader in the long jump with a season-best of 22 feet, 113/4 inches.
“The goal coming into today was 23 feet,” Chase said. “To be a quarter of an inch away really adds to the motivation. Hopefully, I can get it next week.”
Absent from the triple jump and long jump was Tumwater senior Lane Russell.
Russell, last year’s state champion in the triple jump, was sidelined with an injured hamstring suffered during last week’s Evergreen Conference championships.
“We had hoped maybe he could get a mark (in the triple jump) last week and qualify for districts,” Tumwater coach Rich Brown said, “but even if that had happened, he wouldn’t have been healthy enough to compete. It’s disappointing, but that’s part of the sport.”
While Russell, who will attend Princeton next fall, was out, there was still a family member on the podium as sister Peyton won the long jump (17-6) and triple jump (37-1/4).
The sophomore is the 2A state leader in both events.
Lauren Ericks of Tumwater won the 1,600, beating Capital’s Lauren Pierson with a time of 5:15.54. Pierson rebounded, claiming the 3,200 in 11:25.26.
Black Hills (76 points) was second on the girls side with W.F. West finishing third (69).
The Wolves also received titles from Ashley Robbins in the 100 (12.70) and Lauren Furu in the javelin (131-0), and claimed the 400 relay in 50.35.
Payton McGuin of Capital won the 800, while River Ridge’s Peggy Johnston took the girls discus.
Additional winners on the boys side include Capital’s Ben Monk (3200) and Centralia’s Aaron Pullin (110 hurdles).