Star Track XXX: Richland's Christensen wins 4A boys shot put

May 24, 2012 

TACOMA -- Richland’s Dennis Christensen was all smiles Thursday, while Kamiakin’s Anthony Armstrong fought back tears.

Christensen had his second-best throw of the season, winning the Class 4A boys shot put at Star Track XXX at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

Armstrong, on the other hand, struggled to a fifth-place finish in the Class 3A boys 3,200 meters.

"Winning a state title is a dream come true," Christensen said. "Being over 60 (feet) is even better. I didn’t want to win at 57 or something."

Christensen threw his winning mark of 60 feet, 41⁄2 inches on his third throw. It was the first time he threw over 60 feet since the Davis Invitational on April 7, when he had a career best of 61-1.

On Thursday, Roosevelt’s Jack Scheidman threw 58-3 on his third throw, which helped push Christensen to his winning attempt.

"When he hit that mark, I knew I had to turn it on," Christensen said. "That’s been missing — that one guy to push me farther.

"I just hit one out there."

Christensen will compete in the discus today and is signed to compete in track and field for BYU in the fall.

Armstrong also has another event, but after Thursday, he was questioning his entire weekend.

The Kamiakin senior has struggled with breathing issues throughout the spring, which have hampered his chances at defending his state titles in the 1,600 and 3,200.

"I set so much pressure on myself ... I thought I could come back from the sickness," Armstrong said. "It’s a tough one. One of the hardest things."

The bad cough returned Thursday, as Shadle Park’s Nathan Weitz went out to the front and Armstrong couldn’t stay with the pack.

"I was there mentally before the race," Armstrong said, "but I wasn’t there during the race. I wasn’t really thinking at all."

Seattle Prep’s Joe Hardy set a 3A state meet record, wining in 8 minutes, 55.22 seconds and passing Weitz in the final 100 meters. Armstrong finished in 9:18.89.

He now has 36 hours to get ready for what promises to be a brutal 1,600 race, featuring four of the top 17 times in the country.

"After the first lap, I knew it was going bad," Armstrong said. "It got harder and harder to breathe."

Armstrong wasn’t the only disappointed Mid-Columbian on Thursday. Hanford’s Melissa Merrill took second in the Class 3A girls high jump, but cleared just 5-2.

"Lately I’ve been leaning into the bar too much, and we were trying to fix that," she said. "I’m pretty disappointed, but I’m just glad I made it to state a fourth year in a row."

Merrill did set the school record this season, clearing 5-8 to win the Pasco Invite. She will compete for BYU next year.

NOTES: The Prosser girls 4x200 relay team false-started in the first race of the day and was disqualified. ... Clarkston’s Jamie Weisner, who went to Walla Walla her first two years, won the javelin with a throw of 146-9. It was the 10th-longest throw in state history. ... Kamiakin’s Andrea Stapleton took fourth in the high jump, clearing 5-2. The Braves, who are favorites to win the team title, have six points after the first day. ... Cheney junior Sanne Holland set the Class 2A meet record in the 3,200, winning in 10:48.4. She also won the state title as a sophomore. ... Squalicum’s Patrick Gibson and White River’s Marcus Dickson both broke the Class 2A meet record in the 3,200. Gibson won the event at 9:01.86, while Dickson was second at 9:04.91. ... West Valley’s Zane Irvine, who required seven stitches in his head after kneeing himself in the Class 3A pole vault at regionals last weekend, took second Thursday, clearing 14-3. Eastmont’s Berlie Walker won the state title. ... Woodinville’s Chandler Olson won the Class 4A girls 3,200 in 10:33.69, just edging Mt. Rainier’s Jordan McPhee, who ran a 10:33.7.

w Craig Craker: 582-1509; ccraker@tricityherald.com

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