TACOMA – Even as he was forced to hop to the finish line, cheered on rhythmically by fans and competitors alike, Austin Joyner wasn’t about to quit. The competitor in him wouldn’t have that.
Five minutes after his heat in the 200 meters at the 3A state track meet held at Mount Tahoma High, the competitor in Joyner already was contemplating the consequences of a second pull to his hamstring in two state meets.
He likely will not compete for Marysville-Pilchuck on Saturday in the 100 meters – an event in which he qualified as the fastest in the field earlier on Friday. Though he wasn’t going to give up completely.
“Slim chance,” Joyner said. “I’m pretty frustrated. I have the fastest time in the state (in the 100), and the fastest time here.”
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Joyner, one of the best returning running backs in the state who has verbally comitted to Washington State, also has football to consider.
“Oh yeah,” Joyner said. “I start up on Monday.”
The Tomahawks have summer drills and later a camp in preparation for what will be Joyner’s upcoming senior season.
“And I’m a team captain. I want to be out there,” Joyner said.
That sensation, too, is familiar.
After Joyner severely pulled the same right hamstring a year ago as a sophomore, it took him four months to fully recover. The injury interfered with the beginning of last football season.
At least on Friday, the injury came after the M-P junior already had won one title. Five minutes before Joyner stepped on the track for his 200 heat, he won the long jump on his final attempt. His leap of 23 feet 5½ inches pushed him ahead of the 22-9¾ mark of runner-up Budda Baker from Bellevue.
“Ever since this morning, I knew it was going to be a good day,” Joyner said. “I felt explosive.”
Yet it took six attempts to get a winning long jump off.
“It was crazy,” said Joyner, who only took up the event midway through this season. “In between each jump, I was saying ‘I know I can jump 21s,’ because I was a foot behind the board.”
Joyner joined Mountlake Terrace sophomore Chinne Okoronkwo as 3A area winners of the long jump here. Earlier on Friday, Okoronkwo won the girls event with a leap of 18-2 after finishing sixth in the event a year ago.
“It’s nice. It was an improvement,” Okoronkwo said. “I’ve worked on it a little bit more. I think I scratched at 19-2, so it was OK. I’ve got next year and the year after yet.”
Joyner was looking ahead, too.
“I’m happy, but I’m not happy,” he said. “It’s not like this was a terrible day, but it definitely could have been better. But I’ll be back next year, hopefully.”
• Nathan Hale’s Winston Hallam-Eames won the 3A discus with a throw of 173-6.
• Squalicum’s Kirsten Webber became the first girl in state history to clear 13 feet, going 13-0 in the 2A pole vault. Along the way, she broke the meet record of 12-3 set a year ago by Burlington-Edison’s Tiffany Richeson.