By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
TACOMA — It’s never a good thing when a runner ends her race with a hand clutching at her hamstring.
Often that scenario comes well before the finish line and can be a race-ender. For Glacier Peak’s Amy Eloise Neale, it was the hamstring on her right leg. She pulled up at the finish line after edging Camas’ Alexa Efraimson for first place in the Class 3A 800-meter run finals at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
Efraimson, a freshman, had the best time in the state coming into the meet, but couldn’t keep Neale from her fifth 3A state track individual crown in three seasons.
“She had a faster PR (personal record) than me coming in, so I knew Alexa was going to be right there,” Neale said.
After bursting onto the state track scene as a freshman, Neale picked off upperclassmen on the way to win after win. Now a junior, Neale held off the next generation of runners in Efraimson and Kamiakin’s Megan Beauchene (a sophomore), who finished in third place.
“I left it all out there,” Efraimson said of her pursuit.
Both Neale and Efraimson broke the previous meet record, which has stood since 1983, but Neale’s 2:10.32 was .19 seconds faster.
Throughout the season, Neale and has looked at this year’s state meet as an opportunity for redemption. When Neale and the Grizzlies finished second individually and overall at the state cross country meet, it was viewed by her and the team as a disappointment.
“The state meet is always huge,” Neale said. “This is what you are working toward all season. I know from cross country season we were focusing on Nike regionals (the following week), so no one on my team really had a great race at state for cross country. We knew from that you just beat yourself up when you don’t have a good race (at state).”
The 800 victory assured Neale of one good race in the state finals. However, the injury kept Neale out of her primary event, the 1600-meter run.
After wearing a massive ice bag onto the medal stand, Neale had a few hours to get a massage as well as apply heat therapy and a little rest to get ready for the afternoon events, but her injury didn’t improve enough to run in the 1600.
Ironically, Neale ran the 800 this season solely to prep for her primary event, the 1600. In the previous two state meets, she captured the 1600 and 3200 titles, including setting the 1600 meet record in 2011.
“(The 800) was kind of a tool for me running a fast mile, which is what I wanted to focus on (this season),” Neale said. “I was realizing that, ‘why am I running longer 3200 workouts when I love the speed work?’ So, I just thought I might as well be doing what I really love to do.”
Neale traces the injury back to cross country season when she says she had a misalignment in her pelvis that put extra torque on her hamstrings. Then in a Wesco league meet during a 400-meter run, she pulled up lame 100 meters into the race.
Also hampered by injuries this season was teammate Katie Bianchini, who is used to racing with Neal, but ran the 1600 without her teammate. Bianchini finished in fourth place. Back and knee injuries kept from running the complete season.
“I’m just thankful to be running on two legs,” Bianchini said.
Fellow Grizzly India Smith had a surprise breakthrough at the triple, finishing in third.
“I was so nervous,” said Smith, a junior. “This was my first time competing (at the state meet). I had a goal of 36 feet, 6 inches and I almost got it. The weather helped and the adrenaline. I thought I was in fifth the entire time and all of a sudden I was in third.”
Snohomish’s Leiran Cornish finished second in the 400-meter dash. In the 300-meter hurdles, Shorecrest senior Nicole Harris had a big breakthrough to finish second in 44.42 seconds while Mountlake Terrace freshman McKenna Hunt finished seventh (46.15 seconds). Cecelia Jackson of Holy Names won in 43.48 seconds.
For Harris, her time was a personal record after just taking up the event midway through the season.
“I knew (Jackson) went out fast and I just tried to keep up with her,” Harris said. “I ran my race. She was just a little bit faster today.”
Team scores: 1. Curtis 62, 2. Auburn Riverside 55, 3. Kentwood 45, 4. Gig Harbor 36, 5. Issaquah 32, 6. Bellarmine Prep 27, 7. Union 25, 8. Ballard, Federal Way 24, 10. Mead 23. Other local teams: 14. Stanwood, Arlington 17, 22. Monroe 12.5, 28. Snohomish 8, 33. Edmonds-Woodway 5, 42. Jackson 3, 46. Mariner 1.
100—1. Kennadi Bouyer (Curtis) 12.10, 7. Djenne Dickens (Edmonds-Woodway) 12.88; 1,600—1. Jordan McPhee (Mt Rainier) 5:01.27, 6. Brooke Kingma (Jackson) 5:07.22, 9. Jordin Stephenson (Stanwood) 5:11.57; 400 relay—1. Curtis 48.31; 400—1. Hannah Derby (Bellarmine Prep) 55.51, 2. Leiran Cornish (Snohomish) 57.34; 300 hurdles—1. Mariyah Vongsaveng (Federal Way) 44.79; 800—1. Alexis Fuller (Union) 2:13.69; 200—1. Bouyer 24.95, 6. Dickens 26.13; 800 relay—1. Curtis 1:42.29, 7. Arlington (Diamond Martin, Jessica Ludwig, Taylor Andersen, Teresa Wadey) 1:45.44; 1,600 relay—1. Bellarmine Prep 3:51.85, 8. Marysville Pilchuck (Jessica Boyle, Mackenzie Nolte, Summer Cull, Charlee Pilon) 4;05.25; High jump—1. Audrey Ketcham (Wenatchee) 5-7, 4. Randi Armstrong (Monroe) 5-3, 8. Samantha McGee (Lake Stevens) 5-0; Javelin—1. Taylor Barrus (Skyview) 150-7, 5. Lyndsay Leatherman (Arlington) 132-10, 6. Kaci Jones (Stanwood) 130-7; Pole vault—1. Elizabeth Quick (Richland) 12-3, 4. Lacey McLean (Marysville Pilchuck) 10-6, 9. Brianne Laird (Jackson), Olga Yevsyugov (Jackson) 9-6.
Team scores: 1. Kamiakin 85, 2. Juanita 53, 3. Holy Names 36, 4. Glacier Peak 31, 5. Mt. Spokane 30, 6. Kelso 27, 7. North Central 25, Highline 25, 9. Auburn Mountainview, Camas 24. Other local teams: 12. Shorecrest 19, 26. Everett 11, 41. Mountlake Terrace 2.
100 hurdles—1. Cecelia Jackson (Holy Names) 14.64; 100—1. Alanna Coker (Juanita) 12.19; 1,600—1. Katie Knight (North Central) 4:50.02, 4. Katie Bianchini (Glacier Peak) 4:57.48; 400 relay—1. Kamiakin 48.42, 8. Everett (Renee Hudson, Tenika Wentworth, Calea Carr, Jazzmin Carroll) 50.59; 400—1. Ellie Heiden (Kamiakin) 55.18, 8. Kathryn Andria-Habermann (Shorecrest) 1:00.04; 300 hurdles—Jackson 43.48; 800—1. Amy-Eloise Neale (Glacier Peak) 2:10.32*; 200—1. Heiden 25.03; 800 relay—1. Kamiakin 1:41.22, 5. Shorecrest (Kathryn Andria-Habermann, Sarah Beland, Nicole Harris, Amanda Banks) 1:44.32; 1,600 relay—1. Highline 3:51.17*; Triple jump—Coker 40-1.75*, 3. India Smith (Glacier Peak) 36-5.75, 9. Mikayla Ingram (Glacier Peak) 34-11.5; Shot put—1. Adara Winder (Bonney Lake) 45-9.25, 11. Diandre Musikachart (Shorewood) 35-5, 13. Calea Carr (Everett) 35-0.25; Pole vault—1. Jennifer DeBellis (Columbia River) 12-6*, 7. Jenna Hess (Glacier Peak) 10-0.
Team scores: 1. North Kitsap 69, 2. Sehome 67, 3. Squalicum 63, 4. Bellingham 56, 5. Blaine 52, 6. Cheney 44, 7. Pullman 30, 8. East Valley (Spokane) 29, 9. Burlington-Edison 25, 10. Clarkston 23. Other local teams: 25. Lakewood, South Whidbey 6.
100 hurdles—1. Reagan Colyer (North Kitsap) 15.54; 100—1. Cherish Morrison (Blaine) 12.36; 1,600—1. Alyssa Murray (Sumner) 5:02.76, 9. Rachel Cundy (Lakewood) 5:15.45; 400 relay—1. Bellingham 48.33*; 400—1. Morrison 56.09*; 300 hurdles—Colyer (North Kitsap) 43.97; 800—1. Summer Hanson (Interlake) 2:13.08; 200—1. Morrison 24.92; 800 relay—1. Sehome 1:41.7*; 1,600 relay—1. Blaine 3:56.59*; Long jump—1. Alexander Lanzafame (North Kitsap) 18-4.75, 13. Tasha Pabisz (Archbishop Murphy) 15-3, 15. Kortney Yant (Archbishop Murphy) 14-5.75; Discus—1. Gina Flint (Squalicum) 143-9, 12. Madison Stillwell (Sultan) 104-1, 13. Angelina Berger (South Whidbey) 98-4.