Friendly rivalry between local runners goes down to the wire

  • Sat Apr 17th, 2010 11:45pm
  • Sports

By Mike Cane Herald Writer

SNOHOMISH — Merely minutes after they finished an intense, record-breaking race Saturday, Amy-Eloise Neale and Maddie Meyers showed they’re not just competitors. They’re also friends.

When the race clock is ticking, the girls are spirited, elite competitors who push each other to the limit. It’s been that way since they started running against each other about six years ago.

In their latest clash — on Saturday during the 21st Larry Eason Invitational Track and Field Meet at Snohomish High School — Neale, a Glacier Peak High freshman, and Meyers, a sophomore at The Northwest School of Seattle, thrilled the crowd with an historic duel in the 3,200-meter run.

Neale led by a half-step most of the race but Meyers edged in front during the sixth lap of the eight-lap event and hung on to win in 10:38.44; Neale’s time was 10:38.70. Both girls demolished the old meet record of 10:50.92, set by Rachel Cliff of the Thunderbirds Track Club in 2006.

After Neale and Meyers caught their breath, they smiled, chatted and joined up for a leisurely cool-down jog.

“I love racing Amy. She’s so nice and sweet and always a good sport,” said Meyers, who won the 800 later in the day and was named the female track athlete of the meet.

Describing her relationship with Meyers as a friendly rivalry, Neale said she experimented with a new tactic in the 3,200: Taking an early lead and trying to hold it until the end. Usually Neale prefers to pace a leader and pull away at the end, she said.

“It was a good experience running in a different position,” said Neale.

Fortunately for Neale and Meyers, poor weather didn’t have an impact on the 3,200, one of the early track finals. In the evening, though, a heavy rain storm and lightning strikes caused a 35-minute delay. But the meet, which featured more than 1,300 female and male athletes from 60 teams, resumed and finished.

The girls team champion was Olympia, which scored 51 points. Arlington (43 points) tied for third and Glacier Peak (37 points) was sixth.

Juanita’s Alanna Coker (second in the long jump and triple jump) was named female field athlete of the meet.

The only local female individual winner was Arlington’s Stephanie Van Slageren. She won the javelin with a throw of 121 feet, 3 inches, her season-best by more than 2 feet.

“It meant a lot (to win) because I’ve been having a tough couple of weeks,” said the junior, who added she’s been feeling sick lately.

After breaking through with the meet-winning throw on her second attempt of the final round, Van Slageren hopes to carry some momentum into the rest of the season. “It’s kind of a real confidence booster for the next couple weeks,” she said.

Van Slageren’s teammate, Alexis Sarver, was the favorite in the discus and ended up placing second behind winner Allison Johnson of Nooksack Valley.

Among other locals, Glacier Peak’s Stephenie Cummings was seeded first in the 400 but finished third. Cummings came into the meet with a state-leading time of 57.29. But she tightened up Saturday, Glacier Peak coach Brannon Jackson said, and ran a 59.84. Meanwhile, Holy Names’ Michelle Fero won the 400 in 57.10.

Later Cummings bounced back, helping Glacier Peak win the 1,600 relay, the final girls event of the night. She ran the third leg of the relay and Neale, the 3,200 runnerup, closed out the meet-capping victory.

At Snohomish H.S.

Team scores

Olympia 51, Mount Si 44, Arlington 43, Juanita 43, Federal Way 38, Glacier Peak 37, Franklin Pierce 36, Sehome 35, Blaine 34, Emerald Ridge 33, Burlington-Edison 24.5, Holy Names Academy 24, Issaquah 22, Redmond 22, Kingston 20, Northwest 20, Liberty-Issaquah 19, River Ridge 18, Snohomish 17, Edmonds-Woodway 16, Squalicum 16, Abbotsford 16, Cascade-Everett 15, Annie Wright 12, Shorewood 11, Nooksack Valley 10, Capital 10, Nathan Hale 8, Mt. Baker 7, Lindbergh 7, Sequim 7, Monroe 6, South Whidbey 6, Newport-Bellevue 6, King’s 5.5, Ferndale 5, Mt. Rainier 5, Renton 5, Centralia 5, Camas 4, Kamiak 4, Hershey Harriers Athletic Club 4, Anacortes 3, Bellingham 2, Sedro-Woolley 2, Everett 1.

Event winners (for complete results go to Athletic.net)

Distance medley-Juanita 12:54.65; 800 relay-Sehome 1:46.03; 100 hurdles-Kayla Stueckle (Emerald Ridge) 14.84; 100-Germe Poston (Franklin Pierce) 12.32; 200-Germe Poston (Franklin Pierce) 25.16; 3,200-Maddie Meyers (Northwest) 10:38.44*; 1,600-Annie Moore (Sehome) 5:06.15; 400 relay-Olympia 49.44; 400-Michelle Fero (Holy Names) 57.10; 300 hurdles-Kayla Stueckle (Emerald Ridge) 44.30; 800-Maddie Meyers (Northwest) 2:13.61; 1,600 relay-Glacier Peak 4:03.0; High jump-Tayler Fettig (Olympia) 5-6; Long jump-Emily Walters (Olympia) 18-1.5; Triple jump-Aisha Klippenstein (Abbotsford) 37-5; Discus-Allison Johnson (Nooksack Valley) 125-2; Shot put-Molly Meyers (Mount Si) 36-11.5; Javelin-Stephanie Van Slageren (Arlington) 121-3; Pole vault-Cheyenna Pinley (Squalicum) 11-3; Hammer-Olivia Midles (Capital) 164-0

*Meet record

Mike Cane: mcane@heraldnet.com. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.