Saturday’s 54th Pasco Invitational track and field meet, which begins at 9:30 a.m. at Edgar Brown Stadium, could have a theme of sorts via the David vs. Goliath mode.
More than 1,400 athletes are expected to compete in what has been the largest one-day high school meet in the nation.
Most of those athletes come from large high schools from around the Pacific Northwest.
But there are some diamonds in the rough coming out of the smaller schools — classifications that are 1A, 2B and 1B.
“I think the most interesting thing for me is the fact that there are athletes from small schools that are ranked and are here,” said John Crawford, the longtime Pasco Invite director.
He’s right. No fewer than 12 athletes from small schools enter Saturday’s meet either leading their events or among the top three.
No one could be more intriguing than Adna’s Regyn Gaffney.
The senior won Class 2B state titles last year in the 100, 200 and 400 meters, plus the long jump. She has the top-seeded time of 24.50 seconds in the 200 entering Saturday’s meet; the top 400 time of 56.40 seconds; and is ranked third in the 100 and the long jump.
But Gaffney is quick to caution that the seed marks used for the Pasco Invite are from last year.
“I’m not sure I’m in that kind of shape yet,” she said. “I went on vacation during spring break, and I spent a week on the beach in California with my mom.”
Track doesn’t really get her attention until May.
“Track is kind of boring until the end of the season,” she said. “The end is the part I like.”
Gaffney is good enough that she signed this week with Washington State University to run track — despite the fact the Cougars weren’t her first choice.
“My first choice was Oregon State,” she admitted.
But the Beavers wanted her to walk on, and her family can’t afford for her to do that. So she took a visit to Pullman.
“I loved it there,” Gaffney said. “I think it’s because of the small-town feel. There are 40 kids in my graduating class. And the coaches there put family first. During the summer, they want to be with their kids. I liked that.”
Gaffney wanted to compete in the Pasco Invite last year. But her mother found out about the meet too late, and the youngster competed at Shelton instead.
Saturday, she finally gets to compete against the Northwest’s best. She doesn’t want to use the old chip-on-your-shoulder attitude that might come with a small-school athlete.
“I don’t like talking about that,” she said. “And this is terrible to say because I’m so competitive. But I’m going to try. If I can qualify in the top five of anything, that’ll make me happy.”
The rest of the small-school stars
Here are other athletes from small schools who could make it atop the podium: