It was a banner year for track and field athletes from the Tri-Cities.
From dominating the Class 4A/3A Eastern Washington Regional Track and Field Championships to winning more than their share of gold medals at Star Track XXX, it was a year of winning.
Two of those athletes who won nearly every meet they entered were Hanford’s Joe Collett and Kamiakin’s Ellie Heiden.
For their excellence throughout the season, they are the Herald’s All-Area Track and Field Athletes of the Year.
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Heiden became the first Kamiakin female to win four gold medals at the state meet, while Collett won two state titles and qualified in four events.
“It was just a bunch of hard work,” Collett said. “I had a bunch of people pushing me and a bunch of people wanting me to do good. It was great, and everything fell into place like it was supposed to happen.”
Collett won Class 3A state titles in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. He took seventh in the 400-meter run and didn’t get out of the preliminaries in the 4x400 relay. He also won regional titles in the three individual events, as well as the Pasco Invite title in the 110s.
“It really hasn’t set in,” the senior said. “I’m really happy. I’ve been upbeat ever since.”
Led by Collett, Cody Quinton and Aaron Cunningham, the Falcons won the Class 3A regional title. The Kamiakin girls, led by Heiden, won the Class 3A girls state, regional and district titles.
Because of those accomplishments, Hanford’s Darren Crow and Kamiakin’s Cheryl Schauble are the Herald’s Coaches of the Year.
“It is a big deal,” Crow said of the regional title. “Our kids all year, when we asked them to step up, they did exactly what we needed to win. I’m just really proud of the kids. They did exactly what I asked them to do.”
For Kamiakin and Heiden, it was a record-setting year.
Heiden rarely was challenged. The sophomore lost one race she entered this season, taking third in the 200 at the Lake Washington Invitational.
“I think it has set in with everyone who has come up and talked to me and congratulated me,” she said of the whirlwind since state. “I wish I could show my appreciation to them more than just a ‘thank you’ -- how much I appreciate people taking time out of my day to congratulate me.”
They likely will continue to congratulate her for years to come, based on the start to her high school track career. She won titles in the 200, 400, 4x100 and 4x200 this season in Tacoma.
“She’s not daunting,” Schauble said. “She walks on the field and the track, and people are surprised at how she appears. So tiny. Maybe 100 pounds at best, and then just takes command of the field.
“It was fun to watch the kids who hadn’t seen her from the west side, the funny expressions on their face.”
Heiden definitely runs bigger than her size, though, and that is a credit to the hours she pours in during practice.
“I think it has to be contributed to my coaches and my teammates,” she said. “Those practices where you don’t want to run hard or take that shot as hard as you can, those people you are with are the ones who push you and push you.
“When you get pushed in practice, you perform better, and you want to perform better for them.”
Something Heiden and her teammates did throughout the season.
Craig Craker: 582-1509; email@example.com
Coach: Darren Crow, Hanford
Athlete: Joe Collett, Hanford
100: Corey McLean, Kamiakin
200: Stuart Gillin, Walla Walla
400: James Thompkins, Waitsburg-Prescott
800: Noel Hathaway, Hanford
1,600: Ben Wolpert, Walla Walla
3,200: Anthony Armstrong, Kamiakin
110 hurdles: Joe Collett, Hanford
300 hurdles: Blake Gerling, Walla Walla
Shot put: Dennis Christensen, Richland
Discus: Cody Quinton, Hanford
Javelin: Matt Hadley, Connell
High jump: Wade French, Prosser
Pole vault: Joshua Gibson, Pasco
Long jump: Jonah Hoe, Walla Walla
Triple jump: Eduardo Salmeron, Sunnyside
100: Tyler Perrins, Kamiakin
200: Joshua Richards, Southridge
400: Clay Gonzales, Southridge
800: Greggory Heller, Walla Walla
1,600: JP Wolpert, Walla Walla
3,200: Keegan McCormick, Kamiakin
110 hurdles: Kyle Jameson, Walla Walla
300 hurdles: Nick Wales, DeSales
Shot put: Aaron Cunningham, Hanford
Discus: Scott Mayfield, Richland
Javelin: Joey Payne, Richland
High jump: Austin Sparks, Chiawana
Pole vault: Arturo Gonzalez, Kamiakin
Long jump: Chris Haueter, Southridge
Triple jump: Rafa Mendoza, Wahluke
Best of the rest
100: Herman Herrera, Grandview
200: Ben Kelly, Hanford
400: Reyes Cuevas, Sunnyside
800: Joseph Schuldheisz, Kennewick
1,600: Austin Oser, Kamiakin
3,200: Ahmed Ibrahim, Kamiakin
110 hurdles: Dennzell Mickelson, Richland
300 hurdles: Bodie Simpson, Kennewick
Shot put: Tyson Brook, Connell
Discus: Luke Bare, Kamiakin
Javelin: Miguel Guzman, Sunnyside
High jump: Parker Floyd, Southridge
Pole vault: Dan Miller, Hanford
Long jump: Payton Radliff, Richland
Triple jump: Riley Haringa, Prosser
Coach: Cheryl Schauble, Kamiakin
Athlete: Ellie Heiden, Kamiakin
100: Khadidja Toure, Kamiakin
200: Kyra Brannan, Kamiakin
400: Ellie Heiden, Kamiakin
800: Lauren Perry, Richland
1,600: Megan Beauchene, Kamiakin
3,200: Lindsey Bradley, Richland
100 hurdles: Michelle Snider, Southridge
300 hurdles: Sadie Sparks, Chiawana
Shot put: Kimberly Brinkworth, Southridge
Discus: Samantha Lester, Kennewick
Javelin: Angelique Whistocken, Kennewick
High jump: Melissa Merrill, Hanford
Pole vault: Elizabeth Quick, Richland
Long jump: Katelyn Peterson, Wahluke
Triple jump: Sarah Pierce, Chiawana
100: Marlee Rees, Prosser
200: Alyssa Powell, Richland
400: Amy Pfaff, Hanford
800: Rachel Nelson, Walla Walla
1,600: Michelle Fletcher, Kamiakin
3,200: Stephanie Rexus, Kamiakin
100 hurdles: Charlene Manning, Richland
300 hurdles: Ashley Cornia, Walla Walla
Shot put: Gabby Hinojosa, Southridge
Discus: Sira Toure, Kamiakin
Javelin: Madeline Jacobson, Walla Walla
High jump: Andrea Stapleton, Kamiakin
Pole vault: Danielle Brandon, Kamiakin
Long jump: Allison Wujek, DeSales
Triple jump: Danielle Loving, Chiawana
Best of the rest
100: Kylie Fraga, Southridge
200: Marisa Broersma, Sunnyside
400: Kolby Childers, Prosser
800: Emily Moon, Kamiakin
1,600: Sydney Blaser, Kamiakin
3,200: Sidney Bullock, Richland
100 hurdles: Shelby Covert, Hanford
300 hurdles: Madison Moore, Prosser
Shot put: Jen Wood, Kennewick
Discus: Kendall Watts, Kiona-Benton
Javelin: Kennidi Whitby, Connell
High jump: Rashae Spencer, Connell
Pole vault: Danielle Freund, Southridge
Long jump: Kylie Fraga, Southridge
Triple jump: Madison Powers, Chiawana