Girls track wins first district title in 32 years

Senior Nicolette Runyan hoists the award plaque as the M-P girls team celebrates its first district championship since 1976. - Photo courtesy ALETA MUELLER
Senior Nicolette Runyan hoists the award plaque as the M-P girls team celebrates its first district championship since 1976.
— image credit: Photo courtesy ALETA MUELLER

A number of local athletes can look forward to a busy weekend when the Tomahawk track and field team travels to the state meet in Pasco, May 23 and 24.

Of the 19 athletes who qualified for the meet, 10 are either competing or alternates in multiple events.

Senior Nicolette Runyan might have the busiest weekend of everyone the sprinter qualified for state with district championships in both the 100- and 200-meter dash and ran a leg of the Tomahawks' state-qualifying 400 and 1,600 relays. All four events run preliminaries on the meet's first day, and the top eight finishers in each contest run again on the second day, in finals.

Four other athletes emerged from the two-day district meet in Shoreline with three state events. The Tomahawks' strong finishes at Shoreline secured the girls their first team district championship since 1976.

"There were huge efforts like Nicolette Runyan in four events, Haley Nemra (in the distance events), Robin Mueller and Michaela Caldwell in the pole vault, those were kind of our key senior scorers. Jade Hanson in the high jump," said M-P coach Randy Davis. "They've been around three or four years and it was really nice to see them lead the team to a place we'd never been."

Fellow senior Nemra is another multi-event competitor. The distance runner is seeded for the 1,600 with the fourth best time in the state at 5:04.87. She also qualified for state in the 800 and as part of the 1,600 relay. Sophomores Cali Cull and Alisha Oden qualified for three events this year as well, thanks in part to their relay participation. Veterans of last year's 400 and 1,600 relay, the two are back for those races and an individual event of their own. Cull qualified for the first flight of the triple jump with a third-place finish at districts, while Oden's sub-minute time made her the girls 400 champion and a state qualifier.

On the boys side, junior Andy Abadam returns to state, once again a member of the boys 400 relay. But this year, he'll also compete in two individual events, the boys 100 and the long jump. It's not a phenomenon unique to Abadam on this year's squad, said Davis.

"For one, they're a year older, a little stronger, their technique is a little better. Two, they continue to work and train hard, and you see some of that start to pay off," he said. "And three, we have an attitude on this team, and we really felt this on Friday at districts 'OK, we're all going to state.' There was this momentum."

After qualifying for state on separate occasions, senior pole vaulters Robin Mueller and Michaela Caldwell will finally compete against one another at the state meet. But in a surprising twist, a long-anticipated rival failed to make height at the district meet and didn't qualify for state. So Mueller and Caldwell will be joined in Pasco by a third Tomahawk vaulter sophomore Sarah Clark cleared 10 feet at the Shoreline meet, finishing third in the event and qualifying for state.

On the boys side, senior Taylor Gibson also qualified for state in the pole vault, thanks to a 13-6 jump that earned him second place in districts.

Tomahawk state track athletes:

Andy Abadam 100, long jump, 4x100 relay

Michaela Caldwell pole vault

Jacob Cartas 4x100 relay

Sarah Clark pole vault

Cali Cull triple jump, 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay

Taylor Gibson pole vault

Brandon Greene high jump

Dacia Heckendorf 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay alternate

Alex McDonald 300 hurdles, 4x400 relay alternate

Shawn McPherson 4x100 relay alternate

Robin Mueller pole vault, 4x100 relay alternate

Haley Nemra 800, 1,600, 4x400 relay

Alisha Oden 400, 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay

Mark Pangilinan 110 hurdles, 4x100 relay

Nicolette Runyan 100, 200 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay

Travis Sanderson 300 hurdles, 4x100 relay

Colton Smith 4x100 relay alternate

Jenna Welsh javelin

Sarah Zellweger 4x100 relay alternate

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