After Saturday, they might have to rename the fabled meet the Kamiakin Invite.
The Braves’ girls track and field team dominated the field at the 52nd Annual Pasco Invite at Edgar Brown Stadium, setting the record for most points scored by one team. Junior Ellie Heiden won four events for a second consecutive year and was the repeat Female Outstanding Athlete.
“We are really lucky to have good people all around,” said Kamiakin’s Megan Beauchene, who won two events and was second in another. “The bar is definitely raised this year. We expect to win this year. It is nice at these early meets to show we are up there, and hopefully it will payoff in the end.”
Heiden is only the second girl to win back-to-back outstanding athlete at the meet. Rainier Beach’s Ginnie Powell also did it in 2000-01. The team title also marked the first time the Kamiakin’s girls program had won it twice in a row. Kamiakin finished with 101 points, while Curtis was a distant second with 51.
The Braves are the defending Class 3A state champions and feature plenty of athletes with state titles under their belts, led by Heiden who won four golds in Tacoma last year and two as a freshman.
Kamiakin also earned titles from Beauchene in the 800 meters and Elisa Grandemange in the discus.
The star of the show, though, was definitely Heiden, who looked as though nothing had changed from a year ago, running smoothly and easily outdistancing the competition in all four events — the 200, 400, 4x100 and 4x400.
“I think it is harder (this year) because there are more expectations,” Heiden said. “It’s more mentally challenging.”
It definitely looked easy physically, though running five races took a toll on her legs. The much bally-hooed 4x100 relay race between state powers Kamiakin, Class 4A Curtis, Portland’s Jesuit and Southridge turned out to be a rout. The Braves won in 48.82.
“It was kind of a shock,” said Kyra Brannan, who ran the third leg of the relay. “We came in really wanting to be first and keep having that Kamiakin name up there. We had a bad couple of handoffs, but we pulled together as a team.”
Heiden said she was so excited, she started to take off too early, but held up and took the baton even with the rest of the field. She then blew by everyone, winning by .22 seconds.
Coming off the state title in the event a season ago, the Braves had to replace graduated Khadidja Toure, but freshman Heather Donais has done the job so far.
“It’s really easy because I’ve known Heather since we were born,” said Lindsey Schauble, who also placed in both hurdle events. “We wanted to PR and we did. We definitely think (last year’s best) is a time we can get. We’re hoping for another title.”
Heiden is hoping for the same in the 200 (25.36) and 400 (57.18).
“I wasn’t too happy with my time,” she said of the 400. “Everyone says it’s because of the wind, but I think it’s just me. I’ve got to work harder and practice harder.”
Heiden getting any better has to be a frightening thought for her competition. In fact, Kamiakin’s entire team effort has to be a daunting sight for the rest of the state.
The Braves are even better than last season, as they have someone that conceivably could place in every event.
Along with Grandemange’s win the discus (130 feet, 5 inches), she also took sixth in the javelin. Danielle Brandon was third in the pole vault, Brannan was fourth in the long jump and Andrea Stapleton was third in the high jump (5-4).
“I shouldn’t be upset, but I wanted to PR,” Grandemange said after throwing 8 feet shorter than last weekend. “I might’ve been nervous.”
She set the school record in the discus a week ago at the Davis Invitational, throwing 138-4, but in Pasco she had some difficulty keeping it in play as she scratched four times. She was all smiles afterward, though, winning at the Pasco Invite for the first time.
Beauchene also could barely contain her excitement, as she ran a strong time in the mile finishing second to North Central’s Katie Knight. She then bested Knight and Richland’s Lauren Perry in the 800.
“(Today) went how I wanted it to go,” Beauchene said. “I think confidence (has been a key). Last year I realized I can run with the top girls in the state.”
Beauchene also picked up a win in the 4x400 relay, teaming up with Brandon, Heiden and Michelle Fletcher to easily win that event in 4:01.61. Earlier, Fletcher placed second in the 1,600.
It capped off a day that saw the award stand painted in Kamiakin red.