Sports

School records shattered at track meet

Becca Ivey (right) embraces her sister Veronica, after they and teammates Sarah Grue and Crisma Biggs set a school record in the 4x400 relay at Saturday’s StarTrack meet in Tacoma. - ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo
Becca Ivey (right) embraces her sister Veronica, after they and teammates Sarah Grue and Crisma Biggs set a school record in the 4x400 relay at Saturday’s StarTrack meet in Tacoma.
— image credit: ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo

Sarah Grue and Becca Ivey concluded their Spartan track careers by running outstanding legs in their fourth consecutive state appearance on the 4x400 meter relay.

They helped the team to a school record 4:02.16 clocking and fourth place finish in Saturday night’s finals at Star Track XX.

The time knocked more than two seconds off the short-lived record they’d set in the previous night’s prelims, and was one of four school standards that Spartan tracksters established during the two-day competition.

l Earlier that day junior Tim Freeman came achingly close to becoming only the second Bainbridge trackster to win an individual state title, taking second in the 800 by six hundredths of a second in 1:55.32. Chris Charles – a nine-time winner of the Grand Old 4th Run – set the old mark of 1:55.5 in 1995.

l The boys 4x400 relay team – senior Luke Speidel and juniors Christian Lucier, Eddie Pasquale and Freeman – clocked 3:23.78 despite a bad pass in Friday evening’s prelims to knock nearly a second off their week-old school record.

l Christy Lubovich’s 11:28.78 in the 3200 broke a 21-year-old school record by nearly two seconds and completed a remarkable season in which the senior lowered her time by 58 seconds.

In addition, the boys scored 14 points and the girls added 11 for a combined 25 points, almost certainly the school’s best-ever performance at the state meet.

The emotional highlight was the girls’ relay, the meet’s concluding event. Ivey and Grue were part of all-freshman group that ran 4:16 three years ago, and they remained integral elements of the team’s steady improvement since then.

Sophomore Veronica Ivey opened the race with a 59.72 leg, which atoned for a disappointing finish earlier that day in the 800 finals.

Senior Crisma Biggs ran 61.11, perhaps her best race of the season. Grue followed with a lifetime best 62.06 leg. And Becca Ivey came close to running down Bellevue in the final 100 meters, clocking 58.75.

“I’m so excited,” said Biggs. “I don’t mind placing fourth at all with a 4:02.”

Veronica Ivey added, “We just looked at each other and asked, ‘Is that time right?’”

While the boys finished a close third in the same event just before the girls ran, they appeared stunned after coming into Star Track undefeated and holding the state’s best 3A mark.

But running in a tight field in which less than a second separated the qualifying times of the top five teams, they had a bad baton pass in the confusion of several teams jockeying for position in the constricted exchange zones.

Clipped

Then Pasquale – running the third leg – was clipped hard by a Newport runner as he swung out to pass in the final straightaway and took several strides to recover.

As a result, Freeman took the baton in fifth, at least 15 yards behind the top trio of Renton, Yelm and Lakes.

He ran by far the fastest anchor leg – one coach timed him in under 49 seconds – passing Lakes in the final strides and nearly catching Yelm.

Despite the mishaps, the team clocked 3:24.06, just over half a second behind Renton.

Freeman put their effort into perspective.

“This was the first time at state for all of us,” he said. “We can’t be too disappointed.”

They also lowered the school record by more than six seconds over the course of the season.

Lubovich, who had just dropped 12 seconds off her personal best at the previous week’s district meet, ran a gritty, courageous race on Friday evening.

Despite taking a nasty fall on the track five minutes before the gun and skinning her left knee, she remained at the back of the 10-girl lead pack for nearly six laps.

At that point, she moved into ninth, then challenged for eighth – the final medal spot – with 500 meters to go. But when the other girl pulled away, Lubovich couldn’t respond.

She finished utterly spent and had to be helped to the recovery area, where she lay on her back for at least 20 minutes before gingerly getting to her feet.

Her skinned knee wasn’t the team’s only physical ailment.

In Friday’s 800 prelims, Becca Ivey was clipped hard on her heel as the runners made the cut to the inside lane after running the first turn in lanes, nearly fell to the track and staggered for several steps before regaining her balance.

While not readily apparent, she had strained her left leg and could barely walk when she woke up Saturday morning.

But both she and her sister Veronica – who clocked a personal record 2:21.57 on Friday – became what is quite possibly the first-ever sister act in a state track final on Saturday as they came around the first lap in a tightly bunched field of eight runners in about 68 seconds.

At that point, Eastmont sophomore Amanda Miller – who would take the 1600 and run come-from-behind winning anchor legs on the 4x200 and 4x400 relays later that day – blazed a 64-second 400 to win going away. Becca Ivey came off the final turn in third but finished fourth.

She was disappointed in her 2:18.92, a second off her runnerup time from the previous year.

“It felt harder than 2:18,” she said. “I couldn’t push off on my leg.”

Veronica faded to eighth in 2:24.96.

“I’m happy to be in the top eight,” she said, “but I just didn’t have any energy. I really wanted to get a good time and it was disappointing to end the season like that.”

Fortunately she had the relay later that evening and her season had an upbeat ending.

“It saved the 800 for me,” she said. “I was really psyched to run, not dreading it.”

The boys 800 final preceded the girls’ race and a somewhat reluctant Freeman found himself in front coming out of the first turn.

“We all wanted someone else to lead,” he said. “Though I was disappointed that I had to lead the first 400, we came by perfectly (in 57 seconds).”

At that point, a runner from Black Hills shot ahead of Freeman by a step. Going down the backstretch it appeared to be a two-man race, with the rest of the pack trailing by more than 10 yards.

Freeman made his move coming out of the second turn, took the lead with about 60 meters remaining and appeared to have the race well in hand.

But Ryan Brown of Renton – like Freeman running the 800 distance for the first time this year – surged in front two strides from the finish and clocked 1:55.30 to Freeman’s 1:55.36.

“I thought I had the race won,” Freeman said. “I couldn’t hear him behind me. If I had known he was there, I think I could have kicked harder.”

But his time was some solace.

“I didn’t expect to do so well timewise,” he said. “I expected to run 1:56.”

Other results:

l The girls 4x100 relay team of freshman Michelle Baggett, Veronica Ivey, sophomore Sushi Speidel and Biggs established a season-best 51.11 as they finished a non-qualifying sixth in their heat.

l The boys 4x100 relay team - Speidel, Pasquale, Lucier and Freeman - also recorded a season-best time, moving up a notch to fifth in their heat on Freeman’s anchor leg to finish in 44.23.

l Junior high jumper Laura Bartunek cleared five feet to finish in a three-way tie for 12th.

With Speidel the only loss to graduation, the boys appear poised to do even better next year.

Freshman Angelo Ritualo and sophomore Matt Draper are the most likely candidates to replace Speidel in the relays, and Pasquale – who only began running the 400 in mid-season - could become a state finalist at that distance.

Three sophomores who narrowly missed going to state – thrower Matt Wauters, pole vaulter Chad Weldy and distance runner Nolan Amy – could score points as well.

Veronica Ivey, Baggett, Speidel and Bartunek all return on the girls’ side, though rebuilding the 4x400 relay looms as a formidable challenge.

Unfortunately, only truly hard-core fans will be able to watch the team at State next year. Star Track – a Tacoma fixture for two decades – goes to Pasco in 2003 and 2004 where competitors are likely to encounter temperatures in the high 70s, windy conditions and an occasional thunderstorm.

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