Watching Gabriel Dinnel, Troy Prince-Butterfield and his sister, Amelia, race makes Aiden Pullen’s head spin.
Sometimes, the Washougal High School senior wishes he was a sophomore so he could continue to train with these Panthers for another two years.
“These kids are better runners than I am because they’re two years younger than me,” Aiden Pullen said. “It’s going to be great to see what they accomplish by the time they’re seniors.”
Led by this youthful energy in multiple events, the Washougal track and field teams defeated Columbia River March 23. The boys beat the Chieftains 90-55, and the girls earned an 80-69 victory.
“You want to see progress,” said Washougal head coach Dave Hajek. “We have a really strong league. All we can do is keep getting better and do our best. Right now, what we see on the track and in the field gets us pretty excited about where we are going to be in about six weeks.”
Amelia Pullen tripled for the Panthers. She clinched first place in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, and took second place in the 800.
“That was kind of crazy,” Pullen said. “My cool down for one race was my warm up for the next one.”
Aiden Pullen claimed first place in the 1,600 and second place in the 800. Prince-Butterfield won the 800 and secured second place in the 3,200. Dinnel grabbed first place in the 3,200. Dinnel and Prince-Butterfield also helped the Panthers win the 1,600 relay.
“You need to recover really fast, but it’s pretty fun,” Dinnel said. “This is a whole different world from cross country. I’ve learned that it’s really important to have a strong finish.”
Cross country and track gives Aiden Pullen, Tanner Lees, Dinnel, Prince-Butterfield, Hannah Swigert, Amelia Pullen, Brooklyn Bausch, Annabelle Palmer, Morgan Stinchfield and Bekah Shilling an opportunity to compete together in two seasons during the same school year.
“We’re all really good friends,” Dinnel said. “We train together and that’s how we get faster.”
Swigert earned first place in the girls 800 and second place in the 1,600. She feels rejuvenated after taking a season off from running.
“This is my last year before hitting the Navy,” Swigert said. “I want to go all out and make this a season to remember.”
Anna and Kiki Kallie helped Washougal win the 400 relay. Anna Kallie clinched first place in the 400 and Kiki Kallie took first place in the 200. Kiersten De La Rocha earned first place in the discus.
The Panther boys secured first place in the 400 relay. Ryan Davy finished first in the 100 dash and the 110 hurdles. Kenny Kanthak claimed first in the 300 hurdles, Austin McLaughlin earned first in the 400, Nathan Tofell notched first in the javelin, Jacob McKee leaped to first in the long jump and Lees soared to first on the pole vault.
Washougal faces Ridgefield and Woodland today, at Ridgefield High School. Events begin at 3:30 p.m.
Aiden Pullen has been accepted to Eastern Washington University. He just needs to run a 3,200 time of 9 minutes, 38 seconds to earn a spot on the college’s cross country team.
“That’s been my goal since freshman year,” he said.