Every point counts.
The Nathan Hale Raiders knew it, and talked about it on Thursday – the off-day between the first and second competition days of the Sea-King District 2 track and field meet at Southwest Athletic Complex.
“We mentioned it at practice,” Nathan Hale coach Cary Stidham said. “We talked that every point matters.”
One week after the Raiders snapped O’Dea’s Metro League championship run at 18 years and won the league title for the first time since 1974, Nathan Hale took down two-time district and state champ Bellevue, 150-113, to win its first-ever district title.
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The Raiders next set their sights on the 3A state meet, which begins Thursday at Mount Tahoma High in Tacoma.
Holy Names Academy had a much easier time in winning the girls 3A title, 146-67 over runner-up Liberty. The LaConner boys and Tacoma Baptist girls won the 2B titles.
“It’s very cool,” Stidham said. “We’ve won the league and district in cross country the last two years, and a lot of the same kids come over here for track. They know that feeling, what winning feels like. There’s no more awe of Bellevue and O’Dea.”
Hale set itself up for a second straight team title of this postseason with 65 first-day points on Wednesday. The Raiders finished second, third and fourth in the 1,600 meters to highlight the day.
But the Raiders then had to watch as Bellevue took over the proceedings for much of the evening Friday.
“Our goal is to take all the sprints,” said Bellevue senior Budda Baker. “It’s all we can do. Nathan Hale has a lot of long-distance runners.”
The Wolverines accomplished their goal – almost. It was the almost that kept Bellevue from keeping it close.
Baker won the 100 meters in 11.11 seconds, leading a Wolverine sweep of the top three positions in the event. Isaiah Gilchrist and Max Richmond were second (11.26) and third (11.33).
Baker would later win the 200 meters in 21.78. Sam Richmond got Friday started for the Wolverines with a win in the 110-meter high hurdles.
“That set the tone,” his senior brother Max Richmond said.
Bellevue then ran the fastest time in the state in the 4×100 relay – posting a runaway victory in 41.77 seconds.
Ah, but that almost.
Gilchrist came off the final turn in the 400, made up a 10-meter deficit against Ingraham’s Jacob Hostetler, only to stumble at the finish line to finish second. That meant Bellevue scored eight team points for second place instead of the 10 for first.
One race later, junior Sam Richmond was back on the track for the 300 intermediate hurdles – an event in which he had the second-best prelim time to Hale’s Dawit Tesfetsion.
But the junior stumbled and fell on the third hurdle, failed to finish and scored no points. Tesfetsion finished second to get eight for the Raiders. Max Leach then won the 800 meters as the Raiders pulled away.
Holy Names’ Olivia Vincent’s “mistake,” meanwhile had little effect on the proceedings – other than make the heavy favorite to win the 100 high hurdles a second-place finisher. Vincent got off to a slow start and couldn’t make up the space in losing to Franklin’s Elinor Jones Toutant.
“I hit the first hurdle in warm-up, and took too much height, just to be cautious,” Vincent said. “It’s OK. State’s where it counts.”