By David Krueger Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — As the 26th annual Larry Eason Invitational wound down at Snohomish High School on Saturday, Panthers head coach Tuck Gionet was so busy running the meet that he had no idea that his girls team was near the top of the team standings.
The girls title went down to the wire and the finish was one of the closer ones in Eason history. Skyline and Arlington, each with 80 points, tied for first. Snohomish was right behind those two schools with 79 points — good enough for third place.
“Some coaches are bean counters, others aren’t. I don’t know where we are,” Gionet said. “I don’t want our kids to know where we are, just because I don’t want it to come down to one kid who feels like, ‘because I didn’t place, we didn’t win.’”
Kellianne Cavin, girls Athlete of the Meet for field events, led Snohomish with two individual victories. Cavin won the long jump early in the day with a distance of 17 feet, 4.5 inches despite competing in heavy rain and wind.
Later in the day, Cavin had a personal best jump of 5-6 in the high jump event. On her last jump of the meet — where she would have gotten second place if she failed to clear the bar — the sophomore had a clean jump and immediately began looking for someone to celebrate with.
“I thought, ‘I’ve got to find someone to tell.’ I was so excited,” Cavin said. “I broke another (personal best) for high school. That was pretty cool. I’ve been trying to get 5-6 for a really long time.”
Cavin finished third in the high jump at the 4A state tournament last season. She placed second at the Eason in 2013 and wanted to better that mark this time around.
“Last year, I was second,” Cavin said. “I was like, ‘I’ve got to beat this girl because I definitely don’t want to get second again.’”
Despite his busy day, Gionet was aware of Cavin’s strong performance.
“She comes from a long line of just very successful athletes in track and field and I know she’s going to continue to have great success for us,” Gionet said. “For her to come out today and have the marks she did, especially with the bulk of her marks in that squall that we had, that’s even more impressive.”
Gionet said that Cavin provided a boost for the Panthers, both emotionally and in the standings.
“I think it inspired a lot of other kids,” Gionet said. “There was a buzz. ‘Hey did you see what Kellianne did?’ And I think it kind of helped motivate some of the other girls to have a great day. … I think our girls, and it was confirmed today, understand how good they can be. We’ve talked all season long about how it could be a special season for them.”
Cavin wasn’t the only Wesco athlete with a good showing in the field events. Arlington’s Lyndsay Leatherman helped lead Arlington to its first-place tie with individual titles in the shot put and javelin, as well as placing second in the discus event.
But it was her last duty of the meet that had Leatherman leaving the meet a tad frustrated. Leatherman called heads in the coin toss between co-champions to determine if it would be Arlington or Skylin who got to take home the first-place trophy. The Spartans won when the coin landed on the ground tails side up.
“I called it and I called heads instead of tails and we got (the) second-place (trophy) instead of first,” Leatherman said. “A trophy is a trophy. It was a lot of pressure.”
The Eagles’ senior had a plan to fix the trophy.
“We’ll just scratch it out with a Sharpie,” she said.
The strong competition was a welcome challenge for Leatherman, who will continue her track and field career at the University of Washington next season. The Eason Invitational featured more than 1,000 athletes from 37 different schools across Washington state and Canada.
“There’s more than 4A teams here, so you get to see what other divisions have,” Leatherman said. “It’s really cool. There’s a wide range of runners, throwers and jumpers. Besides the weather, everything was awesome. The people are great. It’s good competition and experience for everyone here.”
The weather was definitely a factor — both good and bad — for Cascade’s Kaleb Dobson. In the morning session, Dobson struggled against the wind in the long jump. Later in the day when the rain stopped and the wind was to his back, it helped push Dobson to a championship in the 110-meter hurdles.
“It was a little easy when you had a backwind and don’t have to push as hard — versus a headwind. It was fun,” Dobson said. “… But the fourth flight was jumping into a really strong headwind so I couldn’t get out past 20 feet. It wouldn’t let me do much.”
Dobson finished seventh in the 300 hurdles, after stumbling on the first hurdle of the race. The senior said he had hoped to do better, but wanted to use the Eason as a chance to get better and work on improving.
“I know what I need to do to get where I need to be and state is where I’m going to try to hit my peak,” Dobson said. “… You have to treat your failures like you treat your success, to be successful. It’s a fun experience, but for me it’s also a competitive one, too. It’s fun to talk to all the athletes, and meet new people.
“But then there’s also that competitive side where you have to get kind of evil and mean,” Dobson added with a laugh.
The boys’ meet also ended in a tie for first, with South Kitsap and River Ridge both finishing with 63 points. South Kitsap took home the first-place trophy. Arlington (53) placed third, followed by Sehome (44) and Kamiak (41), which featured Chris Moreton, the boys’ Athlete of the Meet for track events. Moreton finished second in the 400 run and fourth in the 200.
This year’s Eason Invitational, dubbed “A Meet for the Cure,” also served as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Gionet, who battles esophageal cancer, wanted to do something special for the 2014 event and helped turn it into a fundraiser. Toward the end of the meet, it was announced that $6,824.69 was raised at the meet.
Olivia Vincent from Holy Names Academy — one of four Canadian schools in attendance — was the girls’ Athlete of the Meet for track events while South Kitsaps Nolan VanAmen was the boys’ Athlete of the Meet for field events.