Alexis Ross knows exactly what kind of effort she will give if she isn’t running against strong competition.
“I’ll coast,” the North Thurston senior said. “I’ll do it every time, no matter what. I need people pushing me.”
If that is her mindset, she was certainly at the right meet Saturday, as the talent pool was as deep as it’s ever been at the 55th Annual Shelton Track and Field Invitational.
A record 62 schools submitted athletes for consideration at this year’s meet. No one on the girls side, however, was able to catch Ross in the 400 meters as she captured the event in a personal-best time of 58.26 seconds.
Never miss a local story.
“I’ve actually been battling a cold,” said Ross, who scratched out of the 200 because of the illness. “I’m definitely pleased with the time. I really wasn’t sure how today would go.”
Exiting the turn, Ross was trailing Orting’s Alexi Whatley, who appeared to have a comfortable lead on the field before Ross reeled her in with 30 yards to go.
Even though Ross had taken command, she still had to hold off Adna’s Regyn Gaffney, who was putting on a late kick of her own as the wire approached.
“I saw her shadow and knew she was coming up on me,” Ross said. “Sometimes I think I hear footsteps when I’m running and they’re not there, but this time I saw her. I said to myself, ‘OK, let’s go,’ but my body wasn’t doing anything. I was just trying to fight through it.”
Ross, illness and all, was able to hold off the challenge as Gaffney had to settle for second with a time of 58.85. The talented senior did not leave the day empty-handed, however, as Gaffney took first place in both the 100 (12.70) and 200 (25.49) to become the only dual winner among the female participants.
South Kitsap took home the overall team title on the boys side with 70 total points. The Wolves were followed by Pasco (46 points) and Central Kitsap (43).
Federal Way (55.5) captured the girls title, while Central Kitsap (51), Gig Harbor (45) and Tumwater (39.5) rounded out the top four finishers.
Five events in and it looked as if the Pasco boys were well on their way to a team championship. After Wilson’s Trevon Powe won the 110 hurdles in 14.83 seconds, the Bulldogs proceeded to take gold in the next three events with speedy Christian Young leading the charge.
Young won the 100 (11.15), 400 (49.39) and helped Pasco finish first in the 4x100 (43.30) before the meet was even two hours old. The senior later added a victory in the 200 (22.37) to become the only male athlete to win multiple individual events at the meet.
South Kitsap had a pair of first-place finishes, winning the 4x400 relay and the mile with Mason Villarma (4:19.36), to go with six runner-up performances.
Capital’s Naomi Reyes was one of only two freshmen to post a first-place finish by winning the mile (5:21.61).
Reyes, who shaved six seconds off her previous top mile time, actually was not informed she would be participating among the varsity fleet under late in the week.
“I think my coach just didn’t want me stressing about it,” Reyes said. “It was intimidating running against seniors. I got elbowed and pushed around during the start, but felt really strong the last two laps.”
Reyes finished nearly three seconds ahead of runner-up and fellow freshman Molly Fischer of Central Kitsap to join Gig Harbor’s Hadassah Ward, who won the girls shot put (40-10.00) as the meet’s only freshmen champions.
Tumwater senior Emma Furth (16-6.5) finished second to Federal Way’s Karis Cameron (17-2) in the long jump. It was in the same event at last year’s Shelton Invite where Furth suffered a quadriceps injury that sidelined her for a month. She was able to rebound from the setback to finish fourth in the event at the Class 2A state track and field championships.
Twins Joey and Abby Weiler of R.A. Long each set meet records in the pole vault with Joey Weiler clearing 15-6 to better the previous boys highmark of 15-5 set by W.F. West’s T.J. Emrich in 2004. Abby Weiler smashed the mark of 12-1 set by Interlake’s Laura Schvaneveldt in 2006 with a vault of 13-6.
Olympia sophomore Lauren Wilson finished second in the high jump (5-0), while senior teammate Alexa Barnes was third in the girls discus (113-4).
Northwest Christian had top three finishers in Luke Schilter (second, boys mile), Anna Brooks (third, girls 3,200) and Kiersten Kimminau (third, girls mile).
Additional local athletes who placed included North Thurston’s Peter Allegre (second, boys 3,200), Black Hills’ Gerald Riley (third, boys high jump), Tumwater’s Jamie Crews (second, girls 100) and Capital’s Payton McGuin (second, girls 800).