The Washougal High School track and field family could not be more excited for state championship week.
Six Panthers are on their way to compete with the best runners, throwers and jumpers in Washington at the 2A state track and field championships Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
Seniors Dylan Croeni and Brendan Casey both captured district championships Friday, at Longview Memorial Stadium. Kelley Young qualified for state in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.
“Brendan, Kelley and I couldn’t be more different in terms of the events that we do, but we also couldn’t be more unified in our effort to show what Washougal can do,” Croeni said. “I feel proud to stand by their side, along with the rest of my teammates.”
Croeni bounced back from a third-place finish in the mile run to win the 2-mile race in 9 minutes, 39.78 seconds.
“The 2-mile is my race,” he said. “It’s about time I get a gold medal around my neck at state.”
Casey cleared 14 feet, 6 inches to win the pole vault. He also threw the javelin a personal best 173-10 to finish second.
“I wish I would have gone higher on the vault and I wished I would have thrown farther in the javelin, but I’m still going to state in both events and that’s all that matters,” Casey said. “I’ve been training all season and all my years in high school for this, and I just want to bring home the gold.”
Young grabbed second in the 100-meter hurdles, and improved her school record time to 15.2 seconds. She also took third in the 300 hurdles to advance to state in both events.
“Once again, I put it all out there and I’m really happy with my times,” Young said. “I just want to do my best at state and make Washougal proud. It’s my senior year. It feels like it’s time.”
Sophomore Kaitlyn Johnson surprised head coach Dave Hajek by snagging third place in the 100 dash, with a time of 13.04 seconds.
“She came out of the starting block like a cannon, and never looked back,” Hajek said.
The reward for Johnson is the opportunity to compete at state in an individual event for the first time. She also hit a new personal best in the triple jump, with a leap of 32-2.
“I was looking at quotes in the paper, and I found one from Kelley Young that really inspired me,” Johnson said. “She said ‘you can be neck-and-neck in a race, but you have to find that drive to push harder.’ That’s all I thought about in that race.”
Junior Isaac Bischoff rebounded from a rough day throwing the discus by taking third in the shot put, with a personal best throw of 46-3.
“Scratching all three of my throws in disc gave me motivation to step up in shot,” he said. “I want to throw my best at state. Hopefully get another PR.”
Sophomore Sean Eustis earned third in the 800 (2:01.46) to advance to state for the second year in a row.
“We are proud of the kids who are going to state, and we are proud of the ones who made it this far and just came up short,” Hajek said. “All of these kids work so hard, and they represent Washougal well in every way possible. They’re great students, great athletes and great members of the community.”