Auburn Mountainview, devastated by the loss of its 400-meter boys relay team in the preliminaries, turned to catalyst Chris Penn to salvage the day at the rain-drenched 4A track and field championships last Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Penn, the school’s record-setting senior sprinter, was denied the 100-meter title when Curtis’ Marlon Jones leaned at the wire to seize the victory in 11.03 seconds to Penn’s 11.06.
“Really disappointing,” Penn said in disbelief as he walked away from the finish line at Mount Tahoma High School Stadium in Tacoma.
Three hours later, Penn found a higher gear and pulled out a race of a lifetime. He cut through the wind and driving rain to capture the 200 in 22.16. A smile replaced his frown.
“It was a very up-and-down state meet for us. Chris finishing off the meet the way he did was extremely uplifting,” said Lions coach Joel MacDougall. “He has come such a long way since his freshman year. It has not been an easy four years for him, but seeing him on the top of the podium in his last race as a Lion made everything worth it.
“We thought he had a very good chance of winning the 100. He didn’t have the best start, but he battled back and almost gutted it out at the finish line,” MacDougall said. “He was extremely focused for the 200. … I just could see that he was determined not to finish second again.
“We felt he ran a great race,” the coach added. “We wanted to really attack the first 100, to make up the stagger on the runner in Lane 4 quickly. He did it and then just relaxed and ran. Credit Chris and our sprint coach, Kent Rodseth, for executing in not only a very high-pressure situation, but in the pouring down rain and wind.”
The win came a day after the Lions’ sprint relay team, a title contender, misfired in its preliminary heat. Jeremiah Penn pulled his hamstring just before handing the baton off to Chris, his older brother, and the Lions were unable to finish the race.
“The 4-by-100 was a punch to the gut, but that’s the nature of the event,” MacDougall said. “The whole point is to get the baton around the track, and you have to be nearly flawless to do that and win against the caliber of teams we see at the state meet.”
Despite miserable weather, the Lions’ senior duo of Brennen Hanson and Kasey Provo made some noise in the pole vault.
Hanson capped his prep career by clearing a personal-best 14 feet to grab a share of fourth place. He attempted but missed at 14-6.
“There was a little bit of a plateau (during the season) but I hit my peak at the right time … I’m happy with that,” Hanson said of his finish.
Hanson, who plans to attend Boise State University and possibly join its track program as a walk-on, finished fifth in the 152-pound state wrestling finals three months ago.
“Brennen was as dialed in as I’ve ever seen him,” MacDougall said. “He’s a competitor, and he had it in his mind that he belonged on the podium.”
Provo, last year’s state runner-up, didn’t clear his opening height of 14 feet and became an early spectator.
“Conditions were not the greatest,” said Provo, the school’s record holder at 15 feet. “My fault. I offer no excuses. … the rain kinda got into my head a little bit.”
Provo will take his skills to Western Washington University to compete for the Vikings, who have one of the best Division II programs in the country.
“I have coached Kacey for four years, and even on his worst days he is still one of the best in the state,” MacDougall said. “But it was just not his meet. … This was one of the deepest field of pole vaulters I have ever seen at a state meet.”
Must have been the shoes
In the discus circle, Auburn’s Omar Young saved his best for last. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior unleashed a personal-best throw of 177-6, a school record, to take second in the finals.
“It was extremely windy,” said Young, who finished third in the event last year. “Sometimes the wind would pick (the discus) up and turn it over.”
Young slipped into his older shoes for better traction on the launch pad.
“They work in the rain,” Young said of his footing.
Young also finished eighth in the shot put (49-6¼).
Auburn’s D’Angelo Washington found the podium twice, grabbing fifth in the triple jump (43-10¼) and seventh in the high jump (6-2). … Auburn sophomore Charlie Lockington was ninth in the discus (142-8, PR). … Auburn Riverside’s Marcus Sutrick finished 15th in the 1,600 final (4:24.39). … AR’s Alaya Hill, league and district champion, wound up eighth in the girls high jump (5-0). … Ravens junior Stephanie Igwala was 12th in the triple jump (34-8¾). … For the Lions, senior Anthony Gonzales was ninth in the javelin (170-10) and junior Rufina Everett was 13th in the girls shot put (35-11¼).