SNOHOMISH — Katie Bianchini has become all too accustomed to standing in the substantial shadow cast by her highly-decorated teammate.
But Saturday afternoon Bianchini was given the opportunity to stand on her own, and when thrust into the spotlight she delivered — and received some much-deserved recognition in the process.
The Glacier Peak High School junior was named the female track athlete of the meet at Saturday’s 23rd annual Larry Eason Invitational, held at Snohomish High School.
Bianchini won the girls 3,200 meters, and despite the absence of her star teammate, Amy-Eloise Neale, Glacier Peak still had a female distance runner who left the rest of the field in her wake.
“I just like running,” said Bianchini, who expressed no longing for the spotlight. “I just feel like I’m out there trying to be the best I can be.”
On the boys side, Arlington used its depth, highlighted by victories from Dan Boyden in the discus and Blake McPherson in the javelin, to take home the team title. The Eagles scored 75.5 points to hold off Liberty, which took second with 67 points.
Bianchini is one of the best distance runners her age in the region. However, she just happens to attend the same school and be in the same class with Neale, the two-time defending 3A state champion in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
Neale did not participate Saturday because of a strained hamstring, so it was up to Bianchini to carry the torch for the Grizzlies. Bianchini did just that, finishing in a time of 10 minutes, 46.57 seconds. That was 26 seconds faster than the next-best competitor. Her time was announced as a meet record, but Bianchini herself claimed that was a misprint, saying Neale ran a faster time two years earlier.
The first one to greet Bianchini with a hug at the finish line was Neale.
“She’s really easy to work with at practice,” Bianchini said of Neale. “I feel we can really play off each other, and that’s how I pace at practice, so being out there alone is a lot different.
“I was trying to run 10:40, so I was just trying to hit specific splits,” added Bianchini, who beat her previous best by four seconds. “I wanted to run a 5:20 mile, and I hit the mile at 5:24, so I was a little off there. But overall it was a pretty good effort.”
The other female athlete of the meet was Juanita’s Alana Coker, who took the field honor after winning the long jump and triple jump. Sehome won the girls team title with 67.33 points.
The Arlington boys may not have had the meet’s standout individual athletes. However, what the Eagles did have was plenty of athletes who scored in multiple events. That was typified by McPherson, who not only won the javelin with a throw of 195 feet, 9 inches, but also earned points with third-place finishes in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, as well as running a leg on the seventh-place 1,600 relay team.
“Our team performed awesome, especially with so many teams here,” said McPherson, who had a good day despite running a fever. “Our guys all stepped up. Guys who were like 30th down in their events stepped up and got points. That ended up winning it for us.”
Meanwhile, Boyden came inches away from taking first in two events. He began the day by winning the discus with a personal-best throw of 170-9. Then in the shot put he uncorked a throw that would have challenged the winning mark, but just had a toe touch out of bounds for a scratch. He ended up fifth in the shot.
“(The discus win) was really amazing,” Boyden said. “It was a beautiful morning and everything started to click. It was really easy, I wasn’t thinking about it, it just came out. It was a beautiful thing.”
Liberty’s Josh Gordon was named the male field athlete of the meet, sweeping the three jumping events. To top things off he anchored Liberty’s victorious 1,600 relay team. Timberline’s Rashon Smith earned male track athlete of the meet honors for finishing first in the 300 hurdles and second in the 110 hurdles.
A strong contender for the male track athlete of the meet award was Mariner’s KeiVarae Russell. Russell had a busy day, finishing with the top preliminary times in the 100 and 200 in the morning, then racing the 100, 200 and 400 relay in the afternoon.
Russell was run down by Shorewood’s David Fan in the 100 and finished third. But he responded by helping the Marauders (along with Earl Jones, Dominique Law and Josh Williamson) win the 400 relay in a time of 42.95. Then he ran away from the field in the 200, winning in 22.12 before collapsing to his knees on the track in exhaustion.
“I sometimes run better when I’m tired, just because my mind just wants to get over with it quicker,” Russell said with a grin. “I just pump my arms and get out of there. It’s a hassle to run five events, but this is what we train for. You have play through any adversity.”
Among other local standouts:
w Arlington’s Lyndsay Leatherman won the girls javelin with a throw of 127-9.
w Jackson’s boys distance medley relay team of David Blackmer, Nick Calacat, Logan Green and Jake Atkinson prevailed in a time of 10:59.79.
w Snohomish’s Carolyn Gravelle and Travis Pickett swept the girls and boys hammer throw with respective throws of 126-4 and 184-8.
At Snohomish H.S.
Team scores: Arlington 75.5, Liberty (Issaquah) 67, Snohomish 46, Kent Meridian 33, Glacier Peak 30, Ballard 29.5, Eastlake 28, Juanita 27, Mariner 26, Timberline 26, Sehome 23.5, Blaine 23, Tahoma 23, Tumwater 20.5, Jackson 16, Squalicum 15, Skyline 15, Shorewood 13, South Kitsap 13, Lynnwood 13, Anacortes 13, Archbishop Murphy 13, Lakeside 12, Cascade 11, Burlington-Edison 11, Mt. Baker 10, Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) 10, Everett 10, Centralia 9, Cedarcrest 8.5, Capital 8, Mt. Si 8, Shorecrest 8, Granite Falls 7, Redmond 6.5, O’Dea 5, Nooksack Valley 5, NorWesters Track &Field Club 5, Kamiak 4, Meadowdale 3, Bishop Blanchet 3, Terry Fox 3, Lakewood 2, River Ridge 2, Ferndale 1.
110 hurdles—Abu Kamara (Kent Meridian) 14.77; 100—David Fan (Shorewood) 11.02; 1,600—Alex Bowns (Ballard) 4:17.87; 400 relay—Mariner (Earl Jones, Keivarae Russell, Dominique Law, Josh Williamson) 42.95; 400—Andrew Brown (Tumwater) 49.59; 300 hurdles—Rashon Smith (Timberline) 39.13; 800—Jamon Rogers (Skyline) 1:59.65; 200—Keivarae Russell (Mariner) 22.12; 3,200—Alex Bowns (Ballard) 9:37.48; 1,600 relay—Liberty (Joseph Bergmann, Hiron Redman, Ashby Brown, Joshua Gordon) 3:28.25; Distance medley—Jackson (David Blackmer, Nick Calacat, Logan Green, Jake Atkinson) 10:59.79; High jump—Joshua Gordon (Liberty) 6-6; Long jump—Joshua Gordon (Liberty) 23-3.5; Triple jump—Joshua Gordon (Liberty) 46-9.5; Shot put—Jarek Jensen (Squalicum) 52-6; Discus—Dan Boyden (Arlington) 170-9; Javelin—Blake McPherson (Arlington) 195-9; Hammer—Travis Pickett (Snohomish) 184-8; Pole vault—Nathan Dunford (Mt. Baker) 14-9.
Team scores: Sehome 67.33, Juanita 53.5, Arlington 49.5, Squalicum 44.5, Burlington-Edison 44, Blaine 43, Liberty (Issaquah) 34, Glacier Peak 34, Redmond 30, Kent Meridian 29, Shorecrest 28, River Ridge 27, Abbotsford 26, South Kitsap 23, Ballard 21, Stanwood 18, Jackson 17.33, Sedro-Woolley 17, Tumwater 16, Anacortes 16, West Seattle 16, Shorewood 14, Snohomish 11, Cascade 11, Kamiak 10, Everett 10, Bear Creek 10, Eastlake 8, Timberline 8, Lakeside 7, Tahoma 6, Meadowdale 6, Mariner 5, Holy Names Academy 4, Cedarcrest 3, Edmonds-Woodway 3, Skyline 2, Centralia 1.5, Mt. Si .33.
100 hurdles—Brooke Feldmeier (Tumwater) 15.74; 100—Alanna Coker (Juanita) 12.10; 1,600—Megan Chucka (Liberty) 5:14.40; 400 relay—Sehome (Kendra Thomas, Sarah Dolese, Jori Hall, Shannon DeBacker) 49.70; 400—Kris Tollefson (West Seattle) 58.18; 300 hurdles—Hanna Tarleton (Sehome) 46.45; 800—Katlyn Mataya (Burlington-Edison) 2:18.96; 200—Necy Wade (River Ridge) 25.11; 3,200—Katie Bianchini (Glacier Peak) 10:46.57; 800 relay—Sehome (Shannon DeBacker, Sarah Dolese, Hanna Tarleton, Kendra Thomas 1:43.77; 1,600 relay—Blaine (Cherish Morrison, Olivia Olason, Kieya Villars, Kiersten Sigfusson) 4:07.69; Distance medley—Burlington-Edison (Katlyn Mataya, Taylor Graham, Kim Rabenstein, Kyndall Bingham) 13:12.03; High jump—Madelyn Magee (Bear Creek) 5-8; Long jump—Alanna Coker (Juanita) 18-1; Triple jump—Alanna Coker (Juanita) 37-8.25; Shot put—Kelsie Forcier (South Kitsap) 40-2.5; Discus—Gina Flint (Squalicum) 140-2; Javelin—Lyndsay Leatherman (Arlington) 127-9; Hammer—Carolyn Gravelle (Snohomish) 126-4; Pole vault—Kirsten Webber (Squalicum) 11-0.