This time, the Arlington boys hang on to win track title

MARYSVILLE — A week ago, a hopeless feeling came over Arlington High School track coach Judd Hunter as he watched the 3,200-meter run, the final individual event of the Western Conference championships.

The Eagles, who hadn’t lost a track and field meet all season, had a sizable lead over Jackson, but the Timberwolves had so much depth in the 3,200 that they were able to pass the Eagles to earn the league title.

Thanks to a bigger lead and a deeper field, however, things played out differently Friday, as Arlington cruised comfortably to the 4A Bi-District title at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Unlike last week’s meet, Jackson was unable to get in a final point grab in the 3,200 because this week’s meet included KingCo schools as well as those from Wesco.

“It was hard last week to watch the 3,200 and just see all that green,” said Hunter, whose team scored 74 points Friday to outpace Garfield (57), Jackson (52.5) and Eastlake (52.5). “It was a little disheartening coming off of last week to lose to Jackson in the (Wesco) championship. It’s a great feeling today.”

Leading the way for Arlington was senior Blake McPherson, who won the javelin with a personal-best throw of 204 feet, 10 inches, and the 110-meter hurdles (15.05 seconds), and finished second to teammate Jared Alskog in the 300 hurdles. McPherson and Alskog were also both part of the Eagles’ 1,600 relay team that took second place in a school-record time of 3:23.73.

McPherson’s big day was made even more special because he never could have seen it coming a year ago. A three-sport star at Arlington — he will play quarterback and compete in the decathlon at the United States Military Academy at West Point — McPherson tore his ACL playing football in the first game of his junior season.

He missed wrestling season that year, then re-injured the knee in the spring, which limited him to only throwing the javelin — with a brace on his knee — during track season. Two surgeries and plenty of rehabilitation later, McPherson still wasn’t sure if he would run this spring or just focus on the javelin, but now he’ll be competing at state in three individual events and one relay.

“They told me that I probably shouldn’t do sports again,” he said, referring to his second injury. “I just trained even harder. I thought I would just be throwing, but I came out for hurdles, and it just started clicking.”

In addition to Alskog and McPherson, the Eagles got an individual victory from Dan Boyden, who won the discus with a throw of 163-10. Those wins and a lot of depth were enough to lead the Eagles to a title a week after narrowly missing one.

“This is where we hoped we’d be last week,” Hunter said.

Jackson’s Blake Nelson, who on Wednesday won the 1,600, added a victory in the 800 with a time of 1:53.35. Cascade’s Tay’lor Eubanks, who owns the best triple jump mark in the state this year, won that event with a leap of 46-23/4.

Mariner senior KeiVarae Russell, who will play football at Notre Dame this fall, took second in the 100, fourth in 200, and was part of a second-place 1,600 relay team. Despite falling short of victory, the upbeat Russell was smiling after every event, yelling “Going to state, baby” while congratulating competitors.

Herald Writer John Boyle:

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