Kamiakin boys relay team seeks redemption

Tri-City HeraldMay 18, 2012 

KENNEWICK -- The medal is a small, gold circle featuring a handheld clock and a flying shoe.

Etched on the back is "2011 Regionals 1st Place." It is attached to a small red, white and blue ribbon.

The Kamiakin High 4x100 boys relay team went to bed happy after last year's regional meet, glowing in the knowledge they would be headed back to the state meet in Tacoma.

They woke up in Spokane the next day to texts of congratulations from friends and family in the Tri-Cities, only to find out from race officials they had been disqualified for wearing mismatching uniforms.

Three of the runners were wearing black spandex under their uniforms, while a fourth was wearing white spandex.

A rule is a rule, and the Braves' state berth was taken away.

Two of the four runners will get a chance to get to the state meet today at the Class 3A Eastern Washington Regional track and field championships at Fran Rish Stadium in Richland.

Despite losing the chance to go to state last year, the runners kept the medals. After all, in their minds, they'd won the title.

K Perrins has his in a shoebox, where he keeps the rest of his medals. Corey McLean's is on a bookshelf next to his bed, and is one of the first things he sees every day when he gets up.

It is a constant reminder of what they feel was stolen from them -- not only an official regional title, but also a chance at state gold.

"At first I laughed. I thought it was a joke," McLean said. "I was really bitter about it, but there is nothing we can do about it now. It was a long time ago."

The pain was especially acute for Perrins, who was wearing the white spandex.

And it didn't help that the check-in table told the foursome -- which included seniors Jerrod Johnston and Tyler Holle -- that they were ready to go, not noticing the mismatching uniforms.

Even worse for Perrins was that race was the first time he had run the 4x100 with that group of athletes. Thanks to his finish during the 100-meter dash at the district meet, he had earned a spot on the regional team, only to inadvertently get it disqualified.

Now, a year later, Perrins and McLean are back, with sophomore Jim Fowler and freshman Austin Gutierrez. They have the No. 1 time in the region and plan on winning the title.

"It pushes me for sure," Perrins said. "It shows that other schools notice how good we are, and I have to prove it every meet and they are out to get us on every little thing.

"It would mean a lot if we come back and win it again. I'm the anchor leg, so I feel some responsibility ... I get to take control."

The group ran a personal best at the district meet at Eastmont High in East Wenatchee last week. The team only had one dropped baton this season, and is confident about winning today. The runners expect to defend their regional title and finally get that chance at redemption at state.

They won't be worrying about any clothing malfunctions today either.

New, matching uniforms were bought before the season, and they've made sure everyone follows the rules throughout the season.

And Perrins may finally get his chance to compete at the state meet.

"I went up last year to watch," he said. "It was kind of disappointing to see teams I knew we could beat."

While they all would like to forget the way last season finished, at least they got to keep their medals.

McLean said the team was asked to give the medals back.

"I told them they would have to pry them from my cold, dead fingers."

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