She also won the event as a sophomore in 2011, but was injured just before last year's 1,600 final.
TACOMA — It took Amy-Eloise Neale less than five minutes in the rain on Day 1 of the Class 3A state track and field meet to accomplish what an injury cost her on the final day of last year’s meet.
Neale outlasted Kamiakin’s Megan Beauchene and North Central’s Katie Knight, the defending champion, to win the 1,600 meters title for the second time in three years — the Glacier Peak senior’s sixth state track crown of her career — on Thursday at Mount Tahoma High.
“I was hoping to hit a 4:40, but it is a 3A record,” said Neale, who won in 4:44.88. “This is the last chance to do everything you want in high school.”
Neale’s 2012 meet came to a premature end as she won the 800 on Saturday a year ago. A hamstring injury recurred during the 800 warm-up, keeping Neale from defending the 1,600 title she’d won in a record 4:46.56 as a sophomore in 2011.
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“I was really, really disappointed last year watching Katie,” Neale said of the 1,600. “I wanted to be out there pushing it.”
There were no injury issues on Thursday. Instead she, Knight and Beauchene went out quickly, dodging raindrops to set a record pace of 1:10 over the first 400.
Knight stayed on Neale’s hip throughout, with Beauchene lurking in third until the final turn. Knight tried to kick past her rival, but Neale had plenty left. Beauchene (4:45.34) went to the outside and caught Knight (4:45.84) for second at the finish.
“Megan Beauchene has been a growing threat for the last two years,” Knight said. “She only makes us all faster.”
The 1,600 on Thursday was the last head-to-head meeting between Neale and Knight in high school. Knight will defend her 3,200 title on Saturday afternoon, while Neale will defend her 800 title on Saturday morning.
“At the beginning of the season, I was looking at a triple (all three distance races), but later felt it was going to be too much,” Neale said. “Two weeks ago at the Wesco meet, I ran the 800 just to see.”
Neale ran a personal best of 2:08.2, the first time in two years she’d lowered her 800 time. She scrapped the 3,200 for the shorter race.
“I decided I wanted to go in here (state) and see if I could break the record we set last year,” Neale said. That mark is 2:10.32. The overall state-meet 800 record of 2:08.61 (Becca Noble, Rogers of Spokane, 2005) also could be within Neale’s reach.
• Camas sophomore Alexa Efraimson ran the fastest high-school time in the country this spring, 4:39.25, to win the 4A 1,600 and lower the overall state-meet record of 4:42.28, set in 2005 by Bellarmine’s Brie Felnagle.
• Defending 3A shot-put champion Andrew Basham of Lynnwood, who won the Bi-District 4A title in the event a week ago, was mysteriously absent from the competition on Thursday. A Lynnwood coach told the Everett Herald that Basham, a UW football signee, had violated the school’s athletic policy and therefore was pulled from the meet. Wenatchee’s Cody O’Connell won the event with a throw of 59 feet, 9 ¾ inches.
• Other winners included Nathan Hale junior Megan Mooney with a 3A javelin throw of 120-8, Garfield’s Nhautrey Brown with a 4A triple jump of 39-0, and Interlake’s Pierce Frazier with a 3A pole vault of 14-6.