With his final throw of the day, Sequim junior Riley Cowan gave his javelin one last heave. As it turns out, he was saving his best for last.
Cowan’s throw — 182 feet, 6 inches — was enough to launch him to fourth place at the class 2A state track and field championships last week, one of seven medal-worthy (top eight) efforts from the Wolves.
Sequim’s boys tallied six of those medals to rack up 22 team points and place ninth overall, while Elizabeth Sweet tied a school record in the pole vault as Sequim athletes vied for top spots among the best 2A athletes at Mount Tahoma High School May 24-26.
Making a return to the state 2A meet after qualifying as a freshman, Sweet, a junior, tied the Sequim school record of 11 feet in the pole vault to place sixth overall. Sequim’s lone girls state entry, Sweet topped her previous best of 10-6 and matched a height set by Samantha Whiteside in 2009 and 2010.
“(She was) working hard all season to get there; she finally put it together,” Sequim coach Brad Moore said.
Riley Martin was Sequim’s top individual finisher. The Sequim junior came in with the West Central District’s fourth-fastest seed in the 110-meter high hurdles, then raced to a third-place finish in the finals on May 25 with a 15.30-second mark — just four-tenths of a second back of state champ Tyrell Edge of Franklin Pierce.
A lingering back injury kept Martin out of the 300-meter hurdles for most of the season and hindered him a bit in the 110 hurdles, but he healed up in time to score a top-three finish at state.
Fellow Sequim hurdler Fischer Jensen, also a junior, set a personal best with a 40.89 mark in preliminaries on May 25 — the sixth-fastest time heading into the the finals. A day later, Jensen placed fifth in the 300 hurdles finals, clocking in at 41.03 seconds.
“I told (Fischer and) the kids just compete and not worry about the other competitors,” Moore said. “Our best efforts over the years is when that has happened.”
SHS junior Murray Bingham, the 1,600-meter champ at the West Central District meet a week prior, struggled to stay with a fast pack of runners and finished 15th overall in the state finals on May 24. But Bingham rebounded to run a quick leg of the 4×400 relay two hours later, helping Sequim’s relay squad qualify for the finals. There, Sequim’s quartet of Bingham, Alec Shingleton, Logan Laxson and Darren Salazar raced to a seventh-place finish in 3:26.99.
Bingham had enough in the proverbial tank to earn a spot in the 800-meter finals as well, racing to a seventh-place finish in 1:57.52.
Shingleton, another Sequim junior, nearly joined his teammate in the 800-meter finals after he set a personal best of 1:57.91 in preliminaries, but he missed out on by one spot — about four-tenths of a second. Shingleton rebounded for a finals-qualifying race in the 400 meters, where he clocked in at 50.77 seconds — his seventh consecutive personal best in the past seven meets. In the finals on May 26, Shingleton bettered that time once again with a 50.71, placing sixth overall.
“It was really very heartwarming to see Alec run this well,” Moore said. “Last year, it looked like he had so much more. Now he’s running with confidence. He’s pushing himself harder.”
Junior pole vaulter Liam Byrne didn’t set a personal best but said he was happy with his experience at this, his first state meet.
Byrne topped 12 feet 6 inches to place 12th overall. His best during the season was 13 feet, set at an Olympic League sub-district meet on May 12.
“(State) was scary at first — these guys are pretty much all seniors and good athletes,” Byrne said.
Byrne said because it’s just his second year of vaulting he was switching poles as many as a couple of times per week. That held true at the state meet, where he borrowed a pole from another school to try and match his personal best of 13 feet.
Byrne said he’s gained good bits of advice and wisdom from Sequim assistant coach Phil Milliman, a national Senior Games competitor, along with other athletes at high-level track meets — many of whom look to bolster each other despite vying for the same top marks.
“It’s more of a competition toward yourself,” Byrne said of vaulting. “It’s a sport like none other.”
Payton Glasser, a Sequim High senior in his first track and field season, took 15th in the javelin with a 149-foot, 11-inch throw — a personal best by more than four feet.
Cowan, his teammate in the javelin, looked set to place fifth in the javelin after his first throw of the meet topped 169 feet, a personal best. Frustrated with his first two throws in the finals on May 24, Cowan let loose a rare display of emotion after his last throw with a scream.
His season-ending toss was a personal best by about 13 feet.
“I just wanted to PR (set a personal record),” Cowan said. “I didn’t think I’d get it by that much.”
With all but one athlete (Glasser) set to return in 2019, Moore said Sequim’s boys could be in for another outstanding spring next school year.
“The talent is there; I think the commitment is there,” Moore said. “It’s just a matter of geting in that offseason work, getting a good base and by that, avoid injuries … and hopefully, like this year, we can peak at the right time.”
Cheney won the boys’ 2A state team championship with 55 points; Ridgefield (41 points) was second and Bellingham (40) took third. With 22 points, Sequim tied for ninth and was the top Olympic League finisher.
With 45 team points, Fife’s girls edged Anacortes (44) for the girls’ 2A team title, with Ellensburg (41) in third. On the strength of Gracie Long’s 1,600-meter title and runner-up finish in the 3,200-meter race, Port Angeles’ girls tied for ninth with 24 team points. Sequim took 44th place.