Hometown spirit inspires Panthers

WHS boys face Woodland today for the league title

The Washougal track and field teams got a good look at the competition from up north during the Panther Twilight meet Friday.

W.F. West, of Chehalis, took home the championship trophies. The boys squad outscored Washougal 155-141.5, and the girls won the 8-team invitational with 141 points.

“You want great competition at every meet. We got that Friday, and we’re going to get it again this week,” said Washougal head coach Dave Hajek. “It’s not going to be easy from this point on, and it’s shouldn’t be. You have to work hard to PR. You have to work hard to get better. This is the best time of the year for a track and field athlete.”

Matt Rotundo soared to first place for the Panthers in the 110-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 15.69 seconds. He also won the triple jump with a season-best leap of 42 feet, 5.5 inches.

“This meet makes me feel right at home. A lot more people are watching me. I try harder not to let them down,” Rotundo said. “Nobody let us down. We all did the best we could.”

Rotundo hopes for a better effort today when the Panthers host Woodland. If the boys win, they will become the league champions. Events start at 3:30 p.m.

“Everybody has to do what they can to help us get as much points as possible,” Rotundo said. “It’s a team effort.”

Josh Bischoff grabbed first place in the discus Friday, with a toss of 151-8. He also took third place in the shot put (47-1). Aubrey Kraft clinched first place in the shot put (50-0) and sixth place in the discus (122-0). Nathan Tofell notched fourth place in the javelin (146-0).

Aiden Pullen earned first place in the 1,600 (4:43.73) and Troy Prince-Butterfield placed first in the 800 (2:05.61). Prince-Butterfield and Pullen also helped the Panthers gain third place in the 1,600 relay (3:41.58).

Pullen, Prince-Butterfield, Gabriel Dinnel and Tanner Lees formed a bond through cross country.

“It’s great to have guys on the team who can be up with me and push me in practices and during the races,” Pullen said. “Friendly competition makes it that much easier and more effective. We all make each other better every day.”

Dinnel and Prince-Butterfield enjoyed their first Panther Twilight.

“I came to watch this meet one time and thought, ‘how awesome would it be to run in one,'” Dinnel said.

“It’s cool to run in front of your peers,” Prince-Butterfield said. “It gives you a sense of pride for your school.”

Christian Mishler claimed first place in the 300 hurdles (43.37). Kade Coons notched third place in the 100 dash (11.83) and the long jump (18-10). McLoughlin leaped to fourth place in the long jump (18-9) and Justin Snodgrass finished fifth in the 200 (24.86). Kyle Hosely claimed fifth place in the triple jump (37-11).

Coons, McLoughlin, Mishler and Snodgrass earned second place in the 400 relay (46.54). McLoughlin and Mishler contributed to the team’s third-place finish in the 1,600 relay.

The Washougal girls team took fifth place at the Panther Twilight.

RaeAnn Allen earned first place in the 400 (1:04.70). She also helped the Panthers place third in the 800 relay (1:58.21) and the 1,600 relay (4:27.74).

Christina Murray clinched second place in the pole vault (9-6), Stacey Cuff finished second in the triple jump (29-10.5) and Kiersten De La Rocha claimed second place in the discus (97-6).

“It’s important for these kids to have a good home meet and showcase what they can do,” Hajek said. “You don’t win them all. Competition makes you better, even when you lose.”

Washougal enters the Spudder Classic Friday, in Ridgefield. The Panthers then host the 2A sub-district meet Friday, May 13, at Fishback Stadium.