Panthers go the distance at districts

Runners look forward to first state meet

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Hannah Swigert takes a huge lead for Washougal in the 800-meter district race Friday at Columbia River High School. She won with a time of 2:29.02.

Twelve Washougal track and field athletes are on their way to the state championship meet.

Eleven Panthers will enter Mt. Tahoma Stadium, in Tacoma, today, for the first time. Sophomore Kiersten De La Rocha is the only one who has competed there before.

Both Washougal teams finished in fourth place at the district meet May 19, at Columbia River High School.

Hannah Swigert took over the 800-meter run from the get-go, but that wasn’t the plan. She won the race in 2 minutes, 29.02 seconds.

“I just followed what felt right,” Swigert said. “Once I could no longer hear them breathing behind me, I knew I accomplished what I set out to do this season. This is the first time I’m going to state in track. It’s a great way to end my senior year.”

Alexis Maniscalco, Anna Kallie, Kiara Kallie and Swigert earned second place in the 800 relay with a time of 1:50.01. It was the first race of the meet, and it was warm.

“Even though there’s obstacles, you got to overcome them. Just keep running through it,” Swigert said.

She hopes these girls can run a faster time at state and wind up on the podium.

“Any chance we can get something — a medal, PR, anything — I want to grab that,” Swigert said.

She’s also ready to give it her all in the individual 800.

“There are going to be girls who are faster than me, and I’m totally ready for that,” Swigert said. “Ready for the challenge.”

Amelia Pullen didn’t let the heat stop her from doubling in the 1,600 and the 3,200.

She took third place in the 1,600 with a school record time of 5:28.39. The temperature cooled down in the evening, and that allowed Pullen to win the 3,200 and get to state in both events.

“The mile was a little treacherous. It was pretty warm, but I got to state. That’s what I was going for,” she said. “As soon as the mile finished, it started cooling down. I was happy about that. I thought, ‘Let’s go for it’ in the 2-mile.”

Amelia Pullen was inspired by her brother, Aiden. He took third place in the 1,600 to get to state for the first time as a senior. And now, she’s going to state for the first time as a sophomore.

“That was a great race. I was really happy for him,” she said. “It was cool to be able to run that mile back-to-back and both get to state.”

After finishing in fourth place at districts the last two years, Aiden Pullen ran a smart 1,600 and moved into third place on the last lap.

“I could either go for a fast time or I could just go for state,” he said. “I figured, it would be better to break that curse and then go for a faster time at state.”

Aiden Pullen is just one second off the walk-on time to the Eastern Washington University team. He ran a 4:27 at districts.

“I’m a senior. I only get one shot at this, so it’s going to be everything I have. Nothing left,” Pullen said. “A 4:26 or faster and I will be completely satisfied with this season.”

Gabriel Dinnel grabbed second place in the 3,200 with a personal best time of 9:43.37.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it. I just tried to hang on to those two guys, and then I just threw whatever I had left on that last lap,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier right now. I’m just glad that I put all that effort in and it paid off.”

Nathan Tofell notched second place in the javelin with a toss of 155 feet, 1 inch. Kenny Kanthak claimed second place in the 300 hurdles with a personal best time of 41.82 seconds.

Tanner Lees cleared 12 feet on the pole vault to tie for second place. Troy Prince-Butterfield earned third place in the boys 800 (2:00.21). De La Rocha snagged third place in the discus with a season best throw of 98 feet.