Hanford boys make history with Pasco Invite title

April 19, 2014 

Pasco Invitational Track and Field

Hanford High School's Ben Kelly races Eastmont High School's Jeremy VanAssche to the finish line in the boys 100m on Saturday during the 53rd annual Pasco Invite at Edgar Brown Stadium.

SARAH GORDON — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

The Hanford boys track and field team took the first of what it hopes will be four giant steps this season — winning the Pasco Invitational title Saturday at Edgar Brown Stadium.

Led by Dallon Grinder’s victory in the discus, Ben Kelly’s second-place finish in the 200 meters and third in the 100 and long jump, and a second place in the 4x100 relay, the Falcons won their first team title in the 53rd year of the fabled meet.

“We knew that if everyone performed their best, we could win it,” Grinder said. “I’m pretty satisfied. That is a big accomplishment. It is awesome.”

The Falcons hope it leads to more success going forward.

“One of our goals is to go undefeated in league, regional and state champs,” Kelly said. “We definitely have the team to do it.”

Coach Darren Crow had told his kids that they could win the title Saturday, but saying it and watching them do it are two different things.

“It is special for these kids,” he said. “They are part of history that has never happened in the school before. These kids have really stepped up. They have seen the possibilities for the rest of the year.

“This is just a stepping stone to get where they can be. They truly believe in the end when we go to state, and take the team we should have, they can win state.”

The Falcons finished with 50 points, topping Mead’s 43.

Grinder started his day with a second place in the shot put, throwing a personal best by more than three feet. He threw 54 feet, 9 inches, losing to R.A. Long’s Mitch Moe at 55-5.75.

“I’ve been throwing bad lately and was just waiting for my form to click,” he said. “And it clicked four times in a row. I plan on throwing a lot farther than that.”

He did throw a lot farther in the discus, setting a personal best by four feet this time, though he was unhappy with his form. He said if he gets his technique together, he thinks he can throw in the 170s or 180s, which would put him in the hunt for a state title.

Kelly could be in a state title mix as well. He entered with the top 200 time in the state and performed well, finishing second in 22.01. It was his sixth race of the day, counting preliminaries, and he certainly was feeling it down the stretch.

“I’m a little disappointed, but at the same time it’s been a long day,” he said. “It was a fast heat and there are a lot of really fast guys here.”

Kelly decided not to play basketball this winter so he could focus on getting faster on the track. He did lots of conditioning and went to indoor meets at Idaho and Washington State, and it is paying off.

“I feel like that is the reason I’ve been so successful so far,” he said, “but I still have a long ways to go.”

And that includes a trip to Tacoma and a possible state title.

Hanford got a fifth-place finish from Jordan Reyes in the triple jump. The Falcons also set a school record in the 4x100, finishing second in 43.83 seconds. Joseph Gauthier, Tim Tefft, Kevon Skinner and Kelly combined to set the record.

“Everyone had pretty good performances today,” Kelly said. “I’m happy we came out here and did our best.”

Kelly and his teammates hope the best they showed Saturday continues the rest of the season.

“Right now, this is the best team we’ve ever had,” Crow said. “Cross your fingers and keep having them doing what they are doing.”

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

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