SHORELINE — Moments after twisting her ankle and tumbling to the ground, Katie Nelson was afraid all the hard work she’d put into this season had just gone out the window.
But the Cascade jumper refused to let the injury ruin her state dreams.
Nelson pushed through a sprained ankle to win two events and post a personal best Friday during the second and final day of the Class 4A/3A Northwest District track and field championships at Shoreline Stadium.
“I didn’t want to use it as an excuse, because I’ve been training all season for it,” Nelson said while getting her ankle treated on a training table following her events. “I really wanted to just get (to state) and prove that I could do it.”
The injury came on Nelson’s first attempt at 5 feet, 2 inches during the 4A girls high jump finals. She said she twisted her ankle after a misstep on her approach, and then fell to the ground.
“I was on the ground and I was thinking, ‘Oh no, my season is over,’” she said. “But I was able to get up, and the spikes that I was wearing compressed my foot enough that I didn’t feel it anymore, and I was able to push through.”
Nelson missed her second attempt at 5-2, setting up a do-or-die third jump. The Cascade junior came through in the clutch, clearing the bar on her final attempt to keep alive her hopes of making the 5-3 state cut.
Nelson then cleared 5-3, 5-4 and 5-5 on consecutive attempts to not only qualify for state, but set a personal best and claim the district title. Her winning mark of 5-5 was ranked third in the state’s 4A classification as of Friday night, according to Athletic.net.
“She bounced back really well,” Bruins coach Eric Smith said. “It was a scary moment there. … I was proud of how she toughed it out and was able to really fight through it.
“She got into a rhythm and just started hitting,” he added. “It was fun to watch.”
Then after about a 45-minute break between events, Nelson geared up for the triple jump.
“We were a little bit worried about that ankle flexibility, because the triple jump is pretty hard on the body,” Smith said. “But we tried to keep it warm and make sure that everything was good to go, and she came out and felt stable on it.”
Nelson battled through the injury again, leaping 35-7 to claim the triple jump crown with the second-best mark of her career.
“It’s really exciting that I was able to pull it off,” she said.
Nelson was one of 10 local multi-event individual district champions.
Lake Stevens distance-running standout Taylor Roe completed a trifecta by comfortably winning 4A girls titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters. The five-time track state champion improved her top-ranked 4A time in the 1,600 meters Wednesday, crossing the line in 4 minutes, 51.04 seconds.
Shorewood junior Jonathan Birchman, one of the top-ranked hurdlers in the state regardless of classification, won a trio of 3A boys events. Birchman, who owns the fastest 300 hurdles time in 3A, cruised to victory in the event with a time of 39.08 seconds. He also won the 110 hurdles in 14.67 seconds and cleared 6-1 to claim the high jump crown.
Glacier Peak junior Ethan Willems, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, continued his spectacular comeback campaign with a pair of 4A boys titles.
Willems, the top-ranked 400-meter runner in the entire state, cruised to victory in the event with a meet-record time of 48.50 seconds. It was slightly off the season-best 48.16 he ran in last month’s Pasco Invitational, but was still nearly a half-second faster than any other runner in the state this spring. He also won the 200 meters in a scorching 22.28 seconds.
Other local multi-event individual winners were: Glacier Peak senior Riley McDowell (4A boys 1,600 meters and 800 meters), Monroe sophomore Hannah Ganashamoorthy (4A girls long jump and 200 meters), Edmonds-Woodway junior Chinedu Acholonu (3A boys 400 meters and 200 meters), Snohomish junior Lily Mays (3A girls 200 meters and 100 meters), Arlington junior Julia Parra (3A girls shot put and discus) and Shorewood junior Nadia Metales (3A girls 300 hurdles and 100 hurdles).
Lake Stevens claimed both the 4A boys and girls district team titles, aided by strong performances from their highly ranked relay teams. The Vikings swept both 4A boys relay races and won two of the three 4A girls relays.