Okoronkwo now excels in event she once didn’t like

TACOMA — Mountlake Terrace’s Chinne Okoronkwo admits she didn’t care for the long jump much when she was a freshman.

What a difference a year can make.

The sophomore’s jump of 18 feet, 21/2 inches won her the 3A long jump championship at Friday’s state track meet.

“I think she did a very, very nice job today,” Mountlake Terrace track coach Russ Vincent said. “She had a little problem trying to find the board a couple of jumps, but (she’s) a good competitor. With the wind conditions, 18-21/2 is a nice jump. (It was) clearly a good win for her.”

Okoronkwo finished sixth in the long jump as a freshman, but came back more committed to the event as a sophomore.

“I worked on it a little bit more and I started to like it a little bit more,” Okoronkwo said.

Okoronkwo won the triple jump a year ago and placed second in the pole vault. She goes after championships in both events today.

“She would have to falter badly in the triple jump (today) not to win that,” Vincent said. “She’s got very good competition in the pole vault. She’s definitely got some competition there and I believe she’ll rise to the occasion there and then in the afternoon take on the triple jump, so (she’s got) good opportunities.”

Asked what makes Okoronkwo such a special athlete, Vincent replied, “Genes.”

“So often, different people try to take credit for their athletes, but really it’s genes that are such a vital part,” Vincent said. “Beyond that, her work ethic is great, her attitude is great and her kindness and her sportsmanship … she’s well-rounded. She’s not cocky and doesn’t go strutting around.”

Okoronkwo’s older brother, Gifton, won the 3A boys triple jump a year ago as a senior after spending his first three years of high school playing soccer.

Mountlake Terrace senior Barbara Biney joined her teammate on the podium with a third-place finish in the long jump with a leap of 16-101/4.

“We worked really hard for it,” Biney said. “We support each other a lot and we also train on the same club team as well, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Stanwood’s Ali Anderson also made the long jump podium, finishing in seventh place.

Mountlake Terrace is tied for second place with Holy Names among 3A girls teams. Each team has 24 points, well behind the 51 of first-place Kamiakin. Shorecrest is in fourth place with 18 points.

McKenna Hunt placed second for the Hawks in the 3A girls 100-meter hurdles. Hunt came into the event with just the sixth best time this season in her classification.

A day after finishing first in the 4A girls discus, Arlington’s Lyndsay Leatherman placed second in the shot put with a throw of 41-113/4.

Leatherman finished third in the discus, shot put and javelin last year, so her second-place performance in the shot put is another improvement.

“(I’ve made) good improvements and I’m hoping that will carry over into tomorrow,” Leatherman said. “I’m hoping I get another first place, but I’m just focusing on improving.”

Skyview’s Aubrey Ward-El placed first in the shot put with a throw of 45-13/4.

“It feels good that I got beat by somebody that good,” Leatherman said.

Just as she was in the discus on Thursday, Leatherman was joined on the podium by junior teammate Justean Landis, who finished eighth.

“Second place is awesome,” Arlington head coach Judd Hunter said. “To get both girls on the podium, second and eighth, is really cool. Second place is great, but I know Lyndsay’s a little disappointed because of first place yesterday. She was kind of hoping for three first place finishes.”

In her final season with the Eagles, Leatherman seems relaxed going into each event.

“She’s mentally dialed in,” Hunter said. “She’s comfortable in this environment, where she hasn’t always been (in the past), and she’s just letting it shine right now. It’s pretty cool to watch.”

She goes after another championship today in the javelin, the final event of her high-school career.

Going into the final day of the meet, Arlington is in second place with 23 points, one point behind Federal Way.

Cascade’s Paris Flenoy finished fifth in the shot put with a throw of 38-5.

“It’s pretty cool to have three Wesco (girls) on the podium,” Hunter said.

Cedarcrest’s Bailey Paris placed sixth in the 2A girls pole vault and Shorecrest’s Onyie Chibuogwu placed fourth in the 3A girls discus to round out the other local medalists.

Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at alommers@heraldnet.com.

4A Girls State Meet

At Mt. Tahoma H.S.

100 hurdles—1. Mariyah Vongsaveng (Federal Way) 14.24. Long jump—1. Catherine Jackson (Curtis) 18-1.50; 10. Jessica Ludwig (Arlington) 16-6.25; 15. Sidney Trinidad (Arlington) 15-5. Shot put—1. Aubrey Ward-El (Skyview) 45-1.75; 2. Lyndsay Leatherman (Arlington) 41-11.75; 5. Paris Flenoy (Cascade) 38-5; 8. Justean Landis (Arlington) 36-5; 15. Jayla Russ (Arlington) 33-2.75.

3A Girls State Meet

At Mt. Tahoma H.S.

100 hurdles—1. Maria Blad (Enumclaw) 14.83; 2. McKenna Hunt (Mountlake Terrace) 15.19. Long jump—1. Chinne Okoronkwo (Mountlake Terrace) 18-2.50; 3. Barbara Biney (Mountlake Terrace) 16-10.25; 7. Ali Anderson (Stanwood) 16-6. Discus—1. Elisa Grandemange (Kamiakin) 144-11; 4. Onyie Chibuogwu (Shorecrest) 127-1; 9. Hailee Malins (Mountlake Terrace) 112-11; 17. Ndey Sonko (Meadowdale) 88-5.

2A Girls State Meet

At Mt. Tahoma H.S.

100 hurdles—1. Brooke Feldmeier (Tumwater) 14.45.200—1. Kirsten Webber (Squalicum) 13-0; 8. Bailey Parish (Cedarcrest) 9-6. High jump—1. Marla Melling (Anacortes) 5-3. Long jump—1. Peyton Russell (Tumwater) 39-7.75. Shot put—1. Nike McClure (W.F. West) 43-10.25; 13. Reille Jones (Lakewood) 32-9.75; 14. Yulissa Bautista (Lakewood) 31-8.75; 15. Kathryn Smith (Cedarcrest) 31-7.25. Javelin—1. Elisha Allred (East Valley-Spokane) 135-7; 9. Kathryn Smith (Cedarcrest) 115-9; 14. Jordyn Kirchgessner (Archbishop Murphy) 99-0.

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