Three Washougal Panthers had the Ridgefield track all to themselves Thursday.
Courtney Owens had already clinched first place in the 1,600-meter run with a personal best time of 5 minutes, 32.49 seconds. Hannah Lintala finished in third place in the 800.
No Ridgefield runners entered the 3,200. Owens, Lintala and Meredith Collins ran side-by-side for seven of the eight laps.
Athletes, coaches, parents and fans of both schools cheered these Panthers on to victory. All that was missing was the “Chariots of Fire” theme song.
Heading into the final turn, Owens and Lintala hung back and allowed Collins to savor the moment of crossing the finish line first.
“My team is great,” Collins said.
“We were chatting the whole time and encouraging each other,” Lintala said. “Whether you’re sweating or just taking it easy, have fun in whatever you do.”
Collins and Lintala got right back on the track to help the Panthers in the 1,600 relay. Lintala ran an 800, 3,200 and a 400 back-to-back-to-back.
“I love contributing to Washougal. This is my family,” she said. “In the 800, you have to sprint. In the 3,200, you set your pace. And then in the 400, you just leave it all on the track.”
The all-out effort by Lintala and company helped the Washougal girls defeat Ridgefield 81-68.
The Spudders ended the Panthers’ four-year reign as league champions in 2013. Washougal finally got even Thursday.
Owens was hot on the heels of Ridgefield’s Bailey Birch throughout the first three laps of the mile run. The Washougal sophomore sizzled past the Spudder on the last turn and left nothing but a trail of smoke behind her.
“My whole goal was to stay with her until the end and see if I could outkick her,” Owens said. “I felt strong all the way through.”
Morgan Rodgers tossed the shot put 31 feet, 7 inches and the discus 107 feet, 1 inch to win both events for the Panthers.
Stacey Cuff finished first in the triple jump with a personal best leap of 31-1. She also won the long jump (13-7).
Corrine Clark clinched first in the 300 hurdles with a personal best time of 1:00.1. She also took second in the 100 hurdles (20.71) and the long jump (12-3).
Anna Sharp, Brooklyn Wertz, Rebecca Schilling and Hailey Howell earned first in the 400 relay (56.42). Sharp also snagged first in the javelin (101-2) and second in the 100 (14.32).
Josh Bischoff and Aubrey Kraft continued their friendly competition in the discus and shot put. Bischoff won both events with personal best throws of 138-2 and 48 feet.
Kraft settled for second place with marks of 123 feet and 47-5. Both would like to throw the discus 150 feet and the shot put 50 feet.
“You want to throw far because you know the other guy is trying to beat you,” Bischoff said. “The biggest thing is staying relaxed. If you don’t relax, you can’t get the explosion you want.”
Kraft vows to win these events at the next meet. Bischoff told him to “bring it.” They need to keep pushing each other to get to state together.
“Oh, we will,” Kraft said.
Aiden Pullen (4:50.58) and Collin Manning (5:08.63) claimed the top places in the 1,600. They tried to do the same thing in the 3,200, but came up short to two Ridgefield runners.
Matt Rotundo leaped to first place in the triple jump (41-7) and third place in the high jump (5 feet) and long jump (17-10). Jacob Bowen grabbed first place on the pole vault (10-0).
The Spudders took the sprints, hurdles and relays away from the Panther boys to win the meet 75-69. Washougal had not lost a league duel in three years before Thursday’s demise.
The Panthers compete at the Al McKee Invitational Saturday, April 18, at Stevenson High School.