RICHLAND -- Organizers may want to consider changing the name of the regional track meet to the Tri-Cities regional meet.
The Richland and Kamiakin girls, and Hanford boys teams all captured team titles Saturday at the Class 4A/3A Eastern Washington Regional Track and Field Championships at Fran Rish Stadium in Richland.
The Kamiakin girls lapped the field, finishing with 172 points, while Shadle Park was second at 103 points.
The Hanford boys edged out University High 92-89 for the title, and the host Richland girls finished with 101 points to just beat Spokane's Mead for the Class 4A girls title.
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Class 3A girls
Fran Rish stadium was awash in a sea of red.
Normally covered in green, the Richland High School stadium was overcome by the red of the Kamiakin girls track and field team.
Winning eight events, the Braves girls steamrolled to a second consecutive regional team title, earning 13 state berths.
“(Winning) never gets old,” Kamiakin sophomore Megan Beauchene said. “We train so hard. It’s great to see all our training pay off for the whole team.”
Beauchene won the 800-meter run and was part of the winning 4x400 relay, and she was second in the 1600, helping to lead Kamiakin to 172 points on the day.
Ellie Heiden continued her astounding high school career, winning all three events she was in Saturday to give her four gold medals at the meet.
“Winning a lot puts a lot of pressure on because everyone expects it,” Heiden said. “It never gets old, though.”
Heiden won the 200, 400 and anchored the winning 4x200 relay. She set a regional record in the 400 and anchored the winning 4x100 on Friday.
“The key was in the first 300 meters there was a girl in front of me,” she said of the 400 meters. “So, I was like, ‘I have to catch her.’ It helps when there is someone to chase.”
It certainly didn’t help the rest of the region, who was constantly chasing the Braves and coming up short.
Even for athletes who didn’t feel like they had a strong day, they were on the podium.
Senior Khadidja Toure was upset at her time in the 100 hurdles, though it was good enough for a gold medal.
“I hit five hurdles, so it was pretty awful,” she said. “I just wish I had run a better time. That is one of the worst races I’ve had all year.”
Toure finished in 15.44 seconds, and followed that up with a personal best in the 100 meters to take second. She was also on the 4x200 relay team, along with freshman Lindsey Schauble and junior Kyra Brannan.
The Braves capped the meet with a dominating victory in the 4x400 relay, as Beauchene, Danielle Brandon, Michelle Fletcher and Emily Moon won in 4:02.95.
Class 3A boys
Aaron Cunningham just had to get his head right.
The Hanford junior had scratched out of the Class 3A boys discus Friday, failing to get a legal throw.
So when he showed up for the shot put Saturday, he knew he'd have to relax to have success.
And did he ever.
Cunningham threw a personal best 51 feet, 4.75 inches to win the shot put and advance to the state meet for the first time.
“I just tried to clear my head,” he said. “I didn't want the scratches to get in my head. I just tried to forget about it and focus on shot put.“I realized that just because it's a big meet it was not going to throw me off. I used that as my inspiration to throw.”
Cunningham's win was one of five on the weekend for Hanford, which picked up its first regional team title in a decade. The Falcons finished with 92 points.
A big part of that regional title was the work of senior Joe Collett.
Collett earned gold medals in the 110 and 300 hurdles and the 400. He also anchored the 4x400 relay to a second-place finish.
“I did what I was supposed to do,” he said. “It's just have fun and do your best. That's good enough for me.
“We have a really good team this year. It's a good way to finish off my high school season.”
Collett raced out into the lead in both hurdles events and smoked the field, winning the 110s in 14.6 seconds and the 300s in 38.91 seconds.
He took the 400 crown in 49.72, actually being challenged for once this season.
Throughout the year, Collett has had to learn how to race against himself and the clock.
In the 110 hurdle preliminaries he did just that, setting a regional record at 14.07.
“This was as good as it can get,” he said. “Just have to keep the conditioning up and on to state.”
Also getting through to state for the Falcons were Ben Kelly in the 200 and Cody Quinton in the discus.
Class 4A girls
Roddie Shanley had already waited her entire life to earn a state berth. What was a few more hours?
The Richland senior, who runs the third leg on the 4x200 relay, was a part of one of the strangest state berths of the weekend.
Two runners fell during the race, forcing two disqualifications and a re-run of the race — at the end of the meet.
On that re-run, Richland took second and Shanley is headed to Tacoma for the first time.
“We got lucky,” she said. “And I'm happy we got lucky.”
At about 11:09 a.m., Shanley figured her dreams of reaching state had vanished when teammate Alyssa Powell fell to the track.
Shanley had just handed her the baton, when Powell was interfered with and fell.
“I was so shocked and upset,” Shanley said. “It's my senior year and I want to go to state. It happened so fast, that I didn't know what happened.”
Neither did most people in the stands, as Wenatchee also had a runner fall on the final turn. After a lot of discussion by race officials, and multiple protests, Central Valley and Moses Lake were both disqualified and the race was re-run because of the runners that fell.
The second-place finish capped a wild day for the Bombers, who won the team title.
Sophomore Lauren Perry led Richland on the second day, winning the 800 and the 1600.
The 1600 was especially sweet, as Perry edged teammate Lindsey Bradley.
The pair have battled throughout the season.
“She took the lead at 150,” Perry said, “but I knew I had her in the last sprint. I just really wanted to win going into state.”
Perry has struggled a bit with injuries this season, but appears to be healthy going into the state meet after a strong showing.
In the 800, she led nearly wire to wire.
“I knew if I went fast, the other 1600 runners would have trouble staying with me,” Perry said.
Richland also got a victory from Elizabeth Quick in the pole vault, clearing 12-0.
Also advancing to state are Alyssa Powell (100, 200) and Lindsey Bradley (1,600, 3,200)