Hang time

Camas and Washougal track athletes reign at John Ingram Twilight

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Brendan Casey clears 14 feet, 3 inches to beat some of the best pole vaulters in Southwest Washington Friday, at Columbia River High School. Casey also claimed first in the javelin with a throw of 168 feet, 6 inches.

“Hang time” refers to how long an athlete remains in the air after leaping.

Several Camas Papermakers and Washougal Panthers defied gravity in the rain Friday, during the John Ingram Twilight track and field meet at Columbia River High School. The 8-hour extravaganza featured hundreds of athletes from 14 different high schools in Southwest Washington.

“We look forward to this meet because it’s all in one night,” said Camas senior Ciara Klein. “It’s one of the last times we get to face all of the 4A and 2A schools from our area, and we wanted to give our all. Seeing all of this competition in one night is great, and it does make us better in the end.”

Megan Kelley and Brendan Casey were running all around the grounds to get to their events. They barely had time to catch their breath.

Kelley clinched first for Camas in the long jump, leaping 16 feet, 7 1/2 inches, before winning the 400- and 200-meter dashes, crossing the finish line in 58.73 seconds in the 400 and 25.58 seconds in the 200. And after all of that, she took the baton in the second leg of the 1,600 relay, chased down two runners and kept going to give the Papermakers a commanding lead.

“I couldn’t end the day on a bad event,” Kelley said. “I just pushed through the pain and kept going. I wanted to give my team the lead it deserved.”

Camas lost the lead to Skyview and had to settle for second place, but Kelley still racked up 32 points in all of her events to be named Female Athlete of the Meet for the third year in a row. She was also thrilled to hear Camas beat Skyview for team championship, 136-128.

“Just knowing all those points you got are going to help your teammates is even more amazing,” Kelley said. “It took all of us pulling our points together to claim this championship again. It’s amazing how much effort we put into cheering each other on.”

The Camas boys team finshed fourth place at the meet, with 75 points. The Washougal boys took sixth place, with 46 points, and girls team earned eighth place, with 29 points.

After leading the Panthers to first place in the consolation heat of the 400 relay, and seventh place overall, Casey took a deep breath and began his quest on the pole vault. The senior grabbed the attention of the crowd when he was announced as the last man leaping and proceeded to clear the bar two more times. Casey reached 14 feet, 3 inches, which was almost 2 feet higher than any other vaulter reached Friday. Casey’s 14-3 is tied with two other 2A vaulters for the highest mark in the state, according to

“When you get that high, you feel nothing but gratefulness knowing you have enough form and momentum to get over the bar,” Casey said. “I love it.”

Casey had little time to celebrate because he still had to compete in the javelin. He won that event as well, with a throw of 168 feet, 6 inches.

“I know the team needs me, and I want to help the team as much as I can,” Casey said. “Progress is great, but I know I have a lot more to do to keep improving. I’m looking forward to the next couple of meets to see if I can jump higher and throw farther.”

Washougal runners Dylan Croeni and Sean Eustis left the competition in the dust in the 2-mile run. Croeni won with the time of 9:29.53, and eclipsed his school record by four-tenths of a second. Eustis followed in second place in 9:38.81.

“I improved a great deal from sophomore to senior year and set two school records on this track. I never had a bad day on this track,” Croeni said. “I’m still standing right now, so I know this wasn’t my hardest race. I’m going for the win at state.”

It doesn’t hurt having a teammate to push you.

“Sean Eustis is only a sophomore, and he’s right on my tail,” Croeni said. “After I’m gone, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sean break all of my records.”

Eustis described that last 400 meters around the track as “punishment,” but he also had the drive to go one, two for Washougal.

“It’s good to have two Washougal runners tearing up the track,” Eustis said. “I thank Dylan every day for being my teammate, and for pushing me.”

Like Croeni, Eustis has big goals.

“Dylan is going to leave his scar on the school. There’s no doubt about it,” Eustis said. “I plan on leaving a bigger scar. I’m going to do what I need to do to get the records in the 800, mile and the 2-mile.”

Racing fans were treated to a couple of Camas and Washougal showdowns. Camas senior Sara Slayton and Washougal senior Kelley Young went head-to-head in the 100 and 300 hurdles. Klein and Young also had quite a foot race to the finish line in the final leg of the 800 relay.

“We don’t get to go up against Washougal very much anymore, so it’s nice to have that competition,” Klein said.

Klein also ran anchor for Camas in the 1,600 relay.

“When I think about my part, I’m not running for myself in the relays, I’m running for the team,” she said. “I like that the relays are saved for the end, because they are primarily the most important events.”

The individual 800 races included 27 boys and 24 girls. Austen Reiter earned third (2:26.43) for the Camas girls and Kendall Utter finished fifth (2:31.15) for the Washougal girls. Tucker Boyd took fourth (2:06.16) for the Camas boys, and Austin Vaughan followed in fifth (2:07).

Slayton finished first as a member of the Camas girls 800 relay (1:52.62). She also snagged second in the 100 hurdles (16.18), fourth in 300 hurdles (49.82) and second as a member of the 1,600 relay (4:07.66). Cammie Parsons placed second in the 3,200 (11:38.81) and the 1,600 relay. Klein clinched first in the 800 relay, second in the 1,600 relay and fourth in the 100 dash (13.31).

Lauren Neff nailed first for Camas in the high jump. She was the only athlete who could clear 5 feet. Megan Napier notched second in the 1,600 (5:25.69); Boyd grabbed second in the 1,600 (4:34.65); Richard Schultz snatched second in the long jump (19-3 1/2); Amber Corbett took third in the shot put (34-1 1/2); Evan Klein clinched third in the 300 hurdles (41.63); Alex Dombek finished fourth in the 1,600 (5:31.4); Scott Feather claimed fourth in the discus (133 feet); Nequeshe Schultz earned fourth in the javelin (103 feet); Chip Sudbeck placed fifth in the shot put (40-6 1/2) and Josh Ryan landed fifth in the triple jump (40-4 3/4).

Kelsey Lagerquist, Kari Johnson, Kaitlyn Johnson and Young finished second for Washougal girls in the 800 relay (1:53.03). Young also grabbed fourth in the 100 hurdles (17.15) and seventh in the 300 hurdles (50.42). Katie Wright claimed fourth in the high jump (4-10) and sixth in the long jump (15-51/2). Isaac Stinchfield placed fifth in the 1,600 (4:37.57), Isaac Bischoff earned ninth in the discus (42-1) and Michelle Greear notched ninth in the shot put (30-6 1/2).