Walla Walla's Gerling fulfills dream of winning state hurdles title

Craig Craker, Tri-City HeraldMay 27, 2012 

TACOMA — Walla Walla’s Blake Gerling had been dreaming of this moment nearly since elementary school.

The senior came to the state meet to watch his brother run in the hurdles years before, and Saturday Gerling fulfilled his goal of bringing home a state title.

“It was a relief knowing that I won,” he said. “For the rest of my life I get to look back on this; I didn’t take second or third, I got first.”

Gerling won his title in the Class 4A 300-meter hurdles in 37.99 seconds at Mt. Tahoma High.

Blake’s older brother Garrett now runs the hurdles for Washington State, and while Garrett still holds the better time in the 300 hurdles at 39.77, it’s Blake that got the gold medal.

“I always wanted to make state,” Blake Gerling said. “It’s amazing. When I got over the third to last hurdle, I saw them drift away and I knew I had it.”

Gerling wasn’t the only Mid-Columbian to take home gold in the 300s, as Hanford’s Joe Collett finished off a strong season with gold in the Class 3A race.

“I knew I only had two races today and had nothing to hold back,” Collett said of the 300s and his 400 meters race. “Thought I’d end my career with a good hurdles race.”

Collett set the school record in the event, finishing in 38.0 and easily holding off Timberline’s Rashon Smith, who nearly beat him in the 110 hurdles Friday.

“I knew he would be close,” Collett said. “I felt like someone was coming up on me, so I just had to run faster.”

Chiawana’s Sadie Sparks wasn’t quite as lucky as Collett or Gerling. She came up just short in her attempt at a second state title, finishing second in the Class 4A 300 hurdles in 44.88 seconds.

Sky high

Richland’s Elizabeth Quick finally got her state title.

A year after she was disappointed in her second-place finish, the junior cleared 12-3 to take home the Class 4A pole vault title.

“My coach said my run has been the best it’s been,” she said. “And I wanted it. I was very determined. I was just very relieved.”

After clearing 12-3, which is just an inch off her personal best, she went after the meet record at 12-7 but came up short.

“This summer’s goal is 13 feet,” she said. “I just need to work on being more efficient at the top of my vault.”

End of an era

It wasn’t how Kamiakin’s Anthony Armstrong wanted to go out, but he still nearly ran a personal best time.

The senior wrapped up his distance racing career with a fifth-place finish in the Class 3A 1,600 in a time of 4:12.57. It was the race of the day, as four of the top 17 times in the country were involved and it didn’t disappoint.

Lakes’ Izaic Yorks and Shadle Park’s Nathan Weitz dueled until the end, when Yorks won in a meet record time of 4:04.77.

But for Armstrong it wasn’t the finish he wanted.

“I know if I wouldn’t have gotten sick it would’ve been a lot different,” he said of his battle with allergies. “To almost PR and not be 100 percent, I’m gonna try and think of that when I’m feeling down.”   Fast times

Records started falling from the opening gun of the day.

The Class 2A 4x200-meter relay had a new record in the first race of the meet, as Sehome finished in 1:41.7. A couple of races later, Lakes’ Yorks broke a 15-year-old record in the Class 3A boys 800, finishing in 1:50.56. Wenatchee’s Nick Boersma then broke the Class 4A record in the event in 1:49.87. And not to be out done, Glacier Peak’s Amy-Eloise Neale overcame a tight hamstring to set the Class 3A record in 2:10.32 — breaking a 30-year-old mark.

In the Class 2A boys 1,600, the top six finishers broke the record. White River’s Marcus Dickson won in 4:10.79. Other records that were set included: Juanita’s Alanna Coker in the Class 3A triple jump (40-1.75), Tumwater’s Andrew Brown in the Class 2A 400 (48.35), the Bellingham girls in the Class 2A 4x100 (48.33) and Columbia River’s Jennifer DeBillis in the Class 3A pole vault (12-6).   Buried under all that gold

Blaine’s Cherish Morrison wrapped up an astounding career, winning four medals in the 100, 200, 400 and the 4x400 relay.

She finishes with 14 medals for her career, including 11 individually and three relays. She also broke her own meet record in 56.09 in the Class 2A 400.   Fastest man

The fastest runner in the state of Washington still belongs to O’Dea junior Tatum Taylor, after he won the Class 3A 100-meter dash in 10.68 seconds.

Wenatchee sophomore Isaiah Brandt-Sims won the Class 4A event in 10.82 seconds, hanging on against a tough effort from Gig Harbor’s Justin Browne who finished in 10.92. Mead’s Wes Bailey was third at 11.03.

Brandt-Sims also won the 200 in 21.74, setting him up to become the first in Class 4A or 3A boys history to win the 100 or 200 four years in a row.   Fastest woman

Curtis’ Kennadi Bouyer won the Class 4A 100 and 200 to claim the title of the girls sprint races. Bouyer won the 100 in 12.1 and the 200 in 24.95.   And the team titles go to: Curtis (Class 4A) and North Kitsap (Class 2A) won the girls team titles, joining Kamiakin on top.

On the boys side, Gig Harbor (Class 4A), Bellevue (Class 3A) and Ephrata (Class 2A) won titles.

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