Kamiakin girls claim third straight Pasco Invite crown

April 19, 2014 

Even as Ellie Heiden showed she is human after all, the Kamiakin girls track and field team proved to be a machine built for winning.

The Braves won the team’s third consecutive Pasco Invite team title and broke their own record for points scored, while Heiden lost a race at the meet for the first time since she was a freshman. She rebounded, though, to win three gold medals and grab a third consecutive Outstanding Athlete of the Meet award.

Seniors Megan Beauchene and Elisa Grandemange also won titles, and Beauchene, Heiden, Emily Moon and Danielle Brandon won the 4x400-meter relay.

The Braves finished with 109.2 points, topping last year’s total of 101 for a meet record. Bothell was a distant second with 43 points.

“No matter the size of the meet or who is there, it is still fun,” Heiden said. “Even if individuals don’t win, if we win as a team, it makes it so much better.”

Heiden finished fourth in the 100 meters in 12.53 seconds, shocking the big crowd at Edgar Brown Stadium. While it was the first time she’d run in the event this season, it still was an unexpected loss for the 10-time state champion sprinter. It was the first time she’d lost a Pasco Invite race since 2011 and the first time she’d lost a race in the state of Washington since last April.

“I’m so blessed that I’ve gotten to this point that it is weird to lose,” she said. “I would’ve really liked to win, but I think I’m learning a lot more lessons this year than I did last year. I could’ve run the 4x1, but I wanted to challenge myself (in the 100) and I wasn’t up to the challenge today.”

Heiden and her teammates helped wipe away those early disappointments, though.

Beauchene had a dominating performance in the elite mile, winning in 5:00.82, though she did finish a surprising second in the 800.

“I’ve been working on finding my kick this year,” she said. “I had it last year, but it hasn’t been there this year. I had a hard cross country season, and I’m mentally and physically coming back from that. The time wasn’t what I wanted, but I’m good to go.”

Beauchene, who will run for Washington in the fall, wrapped up her Pasco Invite career with six titles.

Elisa Grandemange won her second Pasco title, throwing a season best 142 feet, 6 inches in the discus to top league rival Samantha Lester from Kennewick.

Grandemange wasn’t terribly happy with her mark, though.

“I didn’t work as much over the summer as last year,” she said. “I learned the hammer throw and lost myself in that and kind of forgot about the discus. Now I’m trying to catch up.”

Which spells problems for the rest of the state in the event. Grandemange, the defending state champion, is hoping to use this victory as a springboard going forward.

“I want to throw 150 this year,” she said. “I’m finally starting to get reps in.”

She also threw a personal best 130-0 in the javelin, taking fourth place.

Elsewhere, Lindsey Schauble was third in the 100 hurdles and sixth in the long jump, Andrea Stapleton was third in the high jump and fifth in the triple jump, Samantha Raines was fourth in the pole vault, Moon was fourth in the 800, Sira Toure was sixth in the shot put and discus, Brandon was eighth in the pole vault and the team took sixth in the 4x100.

The collective whole certainly showed Saturday that they should have very few problems adding regional and state titles to their résumés.

And leading the way will be Heiden, who despite the loss showed why she is still the best girl athlete in the state.

She rebounded quickly to win the 400, though it looked like she might let a big lead get away in the final 50 meters.

“I couldn’t feel anyone and I figured I’d just finish with good form,” she said. “I tired to listen to the crowd. When they yell other people’s names, then I know someone is coming. They were so loud, though, I couldn’t hear her footsteps. I saw her in the final 20 meters.”

But Heiden flipped the switch and held off Beamer’s Chante Spotser, winning in a time of 57.97.

She crushed the field in the 200, winning in 25.46 and avenging her loss to Bothell’s Sarah Stavig in the 100.

“I don’t think I was trying to prove anything to anyone else, just myself that I could pull this one out,” Heiden said.

She then anchored the mile relay to a win, as Beauchene turned a fourth-place start into first place, handing the baton off to Moon, who raced out to a big lead that Heiden made stand up.

Now, Heiden looks forward to what the rest of the season may hold, hoping that the two-month break she took in the offseason to heal up will help set her up for some record-breaking times next month.

“This year has been more mentally hard,” she said. “Everyone just expects a lot. We have pretty big goals for this year and a lot of people don’t think I can do it.”

She showed Saturday that she is still plenty capable.

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

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