Panthers compete in their first league meet today

Harnessing success in Washougal

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Joe Harris glides to first place in the 110-meter hurdles, with a time of 16.02 seconds, March 20, at Fishback Stadium. He also finished first in the discus (119 feet, 8 inches) and the triple jump (38-2.75), and second in the javelin (131-3).

Raindrops stabbed the Panthers like daggers and the wind chilled them to the bone, but the opportunity to compete brought out their fire and desire.

Joe Harris and Karsten Short grabbed first place in three events to help the Washougal boys track and field team beat White Salmon and Stevenson by more than 70 points March 20, at Fishback Stadium. Kaitlyn Johnson finished first in four events to propel the Panther girls to victory by more than 40 points.

“I was very impressed with our kids. I felt like they showed a lot of great character,” said head coach Dave Hajek. “They rose to the occasion and competed. I didn’t hear any of them complaining that it was too cold or too wet.”

Short won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, with times of 11.66 and 24.3 seconds. He also landed in first place in the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 9.25 inches.

“The cold weather wears you down,” Short said. “You get a burst of energy at the start, and then it’s gut check time. Just keep going, keep pushing and keep your legs moving.”

Short has played a lot of football and basketball, but this is his first season of track and field. Building speed, agility and endurance is important because he is going to be a senior next year.

“I just want to keep racking up as many points as I can in these meets to help our team win. If we win a league title, and my numbers aren’t there, I’ll still be happy,” Short said. “Competition propels you. I’m as competitive a person as I can be. I hope that continues for me in whatever I do.”

Competing in the javelin event for the first time, Harris finished second with a throw of 131-3. He also won the 110-hurdles (16.02), the triple jump (38-2.75) and the discus (119-8).

“I feel like I’ve gotten stronger from playing football and lifting weights,” Harris said. “Everything is for track. It’s my favorite. I’m doing everything I can out here to be strong, quick and light on my feet.”

Johnson snagged first place in the 100 (13.58) and the triple jump (30-2.5). She also anchored Katie Wright, Maddie Braun and Kelsey Lagerquist to victory in the 800 relay (1:58). Johnson, Braun, Ellie Schmid and Serene Dunn won the 400 relay (59.2).

“Last year, there was only four of us doing the relays every time. This year, we are trying out all of these different girls to find the right combination and to see who really has the heart and the passion for it,” Johnson said. “It starts with the handoffs. The most important part of any relay is being able to trust the person who is going to take the baton after you.”

Michelle Greear tossed the shot put a personal best 35-1.5, to win the event. She also finished first in the discus (76-6). Wright topped out at 5 feet for first place in the high jump. Mackenzie Pfeifer placed first in the javelin (95-5). Karina Miller won the 3,200 (13:16), followed by Sarah Brown (13:30). Isabella Sampson won the 800 (2:42), followed by Kayla Lockard (2:47).

Jacob Banta, Michael Stainbrook, Randy Gubser and Josh Vergara grabbed first in the boys 400 relay (48.22). Stainbrook also snatched first in the 400 (55.3). Sean Eustis earned first in the 1,600 (5:04). Geer McGee won the 800 (2:14.21), followed by Josh Banks (2:14.28). Caleb Economides finished first in the javelin (133-5), Jesse Reagan gained first in the high jump (5-2) and Adam Thomas took first in the pole vault (10-6).

Washougal and Hockinson meet at Woodland today for the first league meet of the season. Events being at 3:30 p.m.

“Hockinson and Woodland both have some performers in certain areas. It’s going to be a fight for our kids,” Hajek said. “If we can come out with a pair of victories we’ll be in very good shape, but we still have some tough meets ahead with R.A. Long and Mark Morris.”