Liberty boys win track championships, send top qualifiers to state

June 3, 2010

By Christopher Huber

The Liberty High School boys track team had a strong push into the post season. First they won the 3A Sea-King district championship May 21, sending top qualifiers to the state championship meet May 27-29 at Tacoma’s Mount Tahoma High School. There, the Patriots took seventh place overall.

District champs

The district championship was the first for the boys track team. At the district meet, the Patriots compiled 100 points to beat out 3A KingCo Conference champion Bellevue, in second with 87 points.

“We are pretty pleased with that,” Liberty coach Michael Smith said of the Patriots’ championship.

Liberty’s 4-by-400 meter relay team of (from left) Devin Bennett, Joshua Gordon, Eric Bice and Troy Solly catch some oxygen as they celebrate, after their state 3A track second-place finish of 3:21.47. By Greg Farrar

“All of the guys we were expecting to pick up points picked up points,” he said. “In fact, they picked up a lot of points.”

Liberty had two individual district champions and also won the 1,600 relay.

Peter Stacy, who has had an exceptional senior year in the throwing events, took first place in the javelin with a toss of 179-3. He also placed second in the discus with a throw of 145-10.

Stacy was fifth in the shot put, but failed to qualify for state in the event. The top four finishers in each event qualified for the 3A state meet.

Joshua Gordon won the long jump, going 21-10 1/2. Teammate Devin Bennett was third at 21-5 1/4. Gordon was also second in the high jump, going 6-2, far from his season’s best.

“He just missed 6-4 on his last attempt,” Smith said.

Chase Walker, of O’Dea, won the high jump at 6-4.

Bennett also placed second in the triple jump by going 41-11 1/2.

The Patriots beat out Bellevue in a thrilling 1,600 relay — Liberty finished in 3:23.66 and Bellevue was second in 3:23.98. Eric Bice sparked Liberty down the stretch as the Patriots, third earlier in the event, pulled out the victory. Troy Solly, Bennett and Gordon were other members of the Liberty relay team.

“It was a great race. Eric caught Michael Williams, of Bellevue, and the Rainier Beach runner,” Smith said. “It was kind of payback for Eric, who finished third to Williams in the 800.”

Williams got off to a tremendous start in the 800 and won the race in 1:53.72. Kyle Blume, of Bishop Blanchet, was second in 1:54.45; Bice took third in 1:54.87.

Bice beat Williams in the 1,600, finishing third in 4:22.99. Williams was fourth in 4:25.98.

“They will probably battle it out at state, too,” Smith said.

Smith said he believes the Patriots have a chance to finish among the top teams at state.

“It’s hard to tell how we will finish,” he said. “If the guys who have been scoring points for us do well, then we have a chance to do well.”

However, he said he believes North Central, of Spokane, is probably the team to beat.

“They have sprinters and distance runners,” he said. “They are really strong.”

In the 3A district meet, Liberty girls team was 11th with 26 points. Emily Pestl-Dimmitt qualified for state in the high jump and javelin, placing fourth in both events. The Patriots girls team also took third in the 800 relay and third in the 1,600 relay.

Weather plays big role at state

The Liberty boys placed seventh in the state 3A competition with 28 points. Liberty girls placed 38th in state with two points.

Among the meet’s highlights for the Patriots was the 4×400 relay team’s second-place finish. The team ran the race in 3:21.47, just 0.07 seconds behind the winning White River team. Peter Stacy earned a top-three finish in the boys javelin throw with a toss of 175-05, 13 feet and one inch from winner Tanner Lien, of Bellevue. Stacy also took seventh in the discus (146-02).

Liberty senior Eric Bice took sixth in the 800, running it in 1:57.93. Runners faced the challenge of a headwind on the final straightaway that made them feel the burn more than usual, Bice said.

“I was so cold, my muscles felt really tight,” he said after the race.

Competing at state this year was tougher because of the colder weather and, personally, felt he expended too much energy just qualifying for the finals, he said.

“I didn’t really have any kick with 100 yards to go,” Bice said with a hint of disappointment.

In the boys long jump, Liberty sophomore Joshua Gordon took second with a leap of 22-02. Marquis Davis, of Rainier Beach, jumped 22-03 to win. Liberty’s Devin Bennett took eighth in the triple jump with a mark of 44-08.

The Liberty girls 4×200 relay team placed seventh (1:47.13).

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