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Lakewood challenges in tough state contest
Although Lakewood raced against smaller schools in the state meet at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, the Cougars had performances and competition to rival the bigger 3A and 4A meet at Pasco the same weekend.
Junior sprinter Devon Smith was a dual medalist in Tacoma, anchoring the fourth-place boys 4x400 relay, and sprinting to a new school record in the 400.
"He ran 48.80 for third place, and that was a huge personal record and school record and district best," said Lakewood coach Jeff Sowards. "I think there was one 3A and two 4A boys that ran that fast. That's top five or six in the state, regardless of classification."
A bronze finish was in the cards for another Lakewood athlete as well, when thrower Payden Butler uncorked a javelin throw 26 feet father than anything he'd thrown before, hitting 187 feet.
A number of seniors said sayonara to their careers at the state meet.
Cross country vet and middle distance runner Terrence Ordonez placed fifth in the boys 800. It's the place Ordonez took the week before at a highly contested district meet, which sent more than the usual number of state runners four and the caliber of that district's contestants help up as the same five runners went first through fifth at state. The event's winner, Mason McHenry of Sehome, set a new state record in the 800.
Teammates and rivals Tawnya Hulslander and Rachael Hartman threw their last prep shot put throws against each other at state too, with Hartman's best throw around 34 feet. Out of her three events, Hulslander medaled in the shout put, coming in seventh place with a 38- 1/2 mark a two-foot improvement on her personal best.
The shot put competition proved another area in which the 2A competition was as formidable as any other division. Had Hulslander thrown at the 3A meet, Sowards said, her mark would have been good for second place; the 3A victor would have placed sixth at Tacoma.
"That's just one example of how competitive the 2As are," he added.
Longtime Lakewood distance runner Sarah Dunn finished one place out of medaling in the 3,200, and should be a contributor next season at Washington State University where she plans to walk on to the cross country team.
Sowards, who coached Dunn on both cross country and track, said the senior could have an impact in her freshman season with some offseason preparations.
"She might be one of the top seven to nine girls on that cross country team next fall," he said.
Hulslander will be attending school in Florida, where she plans to continue playing sports, while Ordonez is still deciding between going to Everett or Spokane Falls. If he chooses the latter, Ordonez will reunite with several Lakewood alumni who have continued their track careers, including runners Tyler Rapp and Nathan Vahn, and Adam Togstad and Ron Whitley.
But despite his losses to graduation, Sowards has high expectations for his returning state competitors and what the future holds for the Lakewood program.
"We should be strong next year and building toward bringing a trophy home in the next year or two," he said.
Payden Butler third place in the boys javelin (187-0).
Sarah Dunn ninth place in the girls 3,200 (11:34.32), 14th place in the girls 1,600 (5:31.60).
Taylor Guske fourth place in the boys 3,200 (9:46.69).
Rachael Hartman 14th place in the girls shot put (34-2 1/4).
Cameron Hess 13th place in the boys javelin (158-9).
Nathan Hesselman 18th place in the boys high jump (6-0).
Spencer Hulslander ninth place in the boys pole vault (13-0).
Tawnya Hulslander seventh place in the girls shot put (38-1/2), 12th place in the girls javelin (111-9), 15th place in the girls discus (95-0).
Terrence Ordonez fifth place in the boys 800 (1:58.15).
Devon Smith third place in the boys 400 (48.80), 10th place in the boys 200 (22.62).
Boys 4x400 relay fourth place (3:30.81).