Sports

LaBeaume wins shot put title

The high school junior, so focused and stoic during the preliminaries and her first throws of the final round, finally broke into her familiar, inimitable grin.

State titles often have that effect on an athlete.

Anna LaBeaume is the 2009 class 2A state girls shot put champion, capping an active weekend for Sequim High's athletes that saw 10 Wolves compete against the best of the best in their classification at the state track & field championships at Tacoma's Mount Tahoma High School on May 28-30.

LaBeaume, Audrey Lichten and Lauryn Garrett each earned a pair of top-10 finishes while Samantha Whiteside tied for sixth in the pole vault, helping Sequim's girls take 19th place in the team standings.

Senior Ben Ohnstad had

Sequim's boys' best showing taking 10th in the 3200-meter race and 12th overall in the 1600.

Few Wolves, if any, were busier than Garrett, who at one point had judges moving her to the front or back of the high jump order to race in a 300 hurdles heat on Friday afternoon.

Garrett had a chance to break her own Sequim high jump record (5-1) but, after a 13th-place finish in the 300 hurdles preliminaries - seventh in her preliminary heat - she returned to the high jump pit to miss three attempts at 5 feet, 2 inches.

"I was really hoping to PR (personal best)," Garrett said. "I felt like I could have done better."

Garrett was much more positive about her 16.17-second finish in the 100-hurdle preliminary she ran a day before, earning a spot in Friday evening's finals.

"I was really excited for that. I felt like I had a lot left," she said.

Garrett wound up 12th in the long jump on Saturday morning, then earned her medal in the 100 hurdles with a seventh-place finish that evening.

Whiteside was looking to improve upon her tie-for-third finish at state last season. A week ago, Whiteside won the West Central District title by clearing 11 feet, a new Sequim High School record.

But on Saturday, with hopes of a 2A title on the line, Whiteside said the magic simply wasn't there. She cleared 10 feet but missed three attempts at clearing 10-6.

"I wasn't on it today," Whiteside said. "On a bad day, I did better (in height) than last year."

Despite the obvious disappointment on her face, the junior said she considers 2009 a success - and has high hopes for next spring, too.

"I'm definitely going to vault over the summer," she said.

In the girls' 3200-meter race on Thursday evening, Lichten improved upon her runner-up district finish by a whopping 37 seconds with a 11:34 mark, ninth overall, while teammate Christina Bruce, a senior who won the district title a week before, finished with a strong 12:02 time, good for 13th overall.

Lichten took eighth in the 1600 on Saturday with a 5:20 finish.

Ohnstad, a senior, took 10th in the 3200 with a 9:54 finish on Thursday and then finished 12th in the metric mile, a 4:34 finish.

Sequim's boys struggled a bit on Friday, coming up against stiff competition. Derrell Jensen was sixth in his preliminary heat in the 100-meter sprint - two lanes away from eventual state champ and new meet record-holder Brett Blanshan - and finished 14th overall. Teammate Josh Fodge missed his opening height of 5 feet, 4 inches in the high jump after winning the district title a week previous with a personal-best 5-8.

Later that afternoon, Jensen and Fodge teamed with James Finnen and Emanuel Herrera to take 14th in the 400-meter relay.

With temperatures rising to well over 80 degrees on Friday afternoon, LaBeaume, a former national Junior Olympics qualifier in the shot put, already was warm. Five of her six throws cleared 38 feet, a feat no other competitor came close to.

LaBeaume's official winning mark came on her final throw - 40 feet, 11 inches - but she already had the event won by her first attempt of the final round, a 39-foot, 8-inch effort.

Despite the best efforts of Washington's Vanessa Garris, who wound up second with a throw of 39 feet, 1.25 inches, LaBeaume had the state title locked up heading into her last toss.

With the pressure off, LaBeaume let loose, and her celebratory throw soared just past the 40-foot mark - not the 42-foot personal best she threw a week previous at districts, extending her own school record - but enough to draw rousing cheers from an appreciative audience.

She said some hard work with weights and clearing her schedule a bit helped elevate her fourth-place finish at state last year to the 2009 crown.

"Two months of (working in) the weight room - it was hard to work that with soccer," LaBeaume said. So she quit her select soccer squad to focus on her throws.

B.J. Schade, a 1995

Sequim High grad and shot put standout, has worked with LaBeaume since before high school, honing the young athlete on proper shot put throwing form.

He said LaBeaume isn't a prototypical shot put thrower at all and perhaps only took to the event by happenstance when the two met before her freshman year.

"We happened to cross paths," Schade said. "It could have been maybe a javelin or jumping."

Schade credits LaBeaume's work ethic and natural athleticism for her success.

"She's got a lot of lower body strength, a lot of quickness ... and a real natural throw," he said. She's not real strong in the arms. She's got a long way to go in the weight room. (But) she's very motivated to throw farther."

With a 200-meter qualifying race ahead of her Saturday afternoon, LaBeaume looked pleased but hardly overjoyed.

"It hasn't hit me quite yet," she said.

LaBeaume's state title is Sequim's second track & field crown in as many years (Kincaid Nichols, 100-meter sprint) and second for Sequim High School this school year (Alli Cutting, cross country).

Last year, Sequim's girls finished in a tie for ninth overall at the state 2A meet, bringing home five medals and three top-three finishes. Sequim's boys tied for 15th, mostly based on senior Kincaid Nichols' three overall medals.



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.

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