SNOHOMISH — For more than three decades, the Eason Invitational has been a staple on the Snohomish County high school sports calendar.
The coronavirus pandemic interrupted the annual track and field extravaganza the past two years, forcing it to be canceled in 2020 and 2021.
But it returned in style Saturday.
Fifty-seven teams and numerous highly ranked athletes converged on Veterans Memorial Stadium for one of the state’s largest annual prep track and field meets, turning the 32nd Eason Invitational into yet another rousing success.
“It was a tremendous day,” said Snohomish coach Dave Weller, who helps spearhead the event. “Kids were just excited to be here, just performing awesome marks (and) huge PRs. It was just an awesome day to see the kids out competing again.”
As it always does, the meet featured a high level of competition. There were five meet records broken and 36 times or marks that rank in the top 10 of the state this season regardless of classification, according to Athletic.net.
And after what’s been a particularly rainy spring, the sunny weather only added to the overall experience.
“We’ve been training for two months for a day like today,” Weller said with a laugh, in reference to the sunshine. “So it was good to see we finally got it.”
SHORECREST SENIOR MAKES STATEMENT IN BOYS HURDLES
After his past two seasons were wiped out by the pandemic and an injury, Amado Toyo feels he has something to prove this spring.
The Shorecrest senior sure made a statement Saturday.
Toyo cruised to victory in the boys 300-meter hurdles with a winning time of 39.52 seconds, beating the rest of the field by 1.85 seconds.
He also placed second in the 110 hurdles, posting a personal-best time of 14.69 seconds. He finished 0.61 seconds behind Sehome senior Carter Birade, who broke the meet record with a time that ranks 35th in the nation this season among high schoolers.
“I feel like I kind of have something to prove to myself,” Toyo said. “I feel like COVID year I didn’t have that (chance). And then I got hurt. So I have a lot to accomplish this year.”
Toyo’s sophomore season in 2020 was canceled because of the pandemic. He then tore a nerve in his hamstring in the fall of 2020, which sidelined him for last year’s abbreviated high school season.
But this spring, he’s making up for lost time.
Toyo has the second-fastest time in the state’s 3A classification in both hurdles events. And regardless of classification, he’s ranked fourth in the state in the 300 hurdles (39.25) and fifth in the 110 hurdles.
“I’m happy where I’m at right now,” Toyo said. “I can’t really complain. I just hope to do better and keep training. The more I go in the season, the better I (hope to) do.”
Toyo took up track in seventh grade and competed in USA Track & Field events as a sprinter. But once he reached high school, he started focusing on hurdles.
“Our coach saw me and he was like, ‘You’ve got long legs. Let’s try some hurdles,’” Toyo said. “At first, I didn’t want to do it. But then I three-stepped for the first time (and) it felt pretty good. … And it took off from there.”
Toyo said missing his sophomore and junior seasons has provided extra fuel for his senior season.
“I kind of wonder if I would’ve been faster than I am now if I had those two years, but I don’t really let that bother me,” Toyo said. “It’s more motivation to go out and win.”
MEADOWDALE JUNIOR WINS GIRLS 400 METERS
Two weeks ago, Meadowdale junior Tresley Love and Sehome sophomore Jayda Darroch battled it out in Southern California.
On Saturday, they were neck and neck again.
This time, Love got the upper hand.
Love surged to an early lead and held off Darroch down the closing stretch, winning the girls 400 meters in a scorching 57.61 seconds. Darroch made a hard charge over the final 100 meters to close the gap, but Love leaned across the line to edge her by 0.06 seconds.
“It’s impressive to watch her run,” said Meadowdale distance coach Kris Maraveller, who was at the Eason Invitational with Love while the rest of the Mavericks’ team was at the Viking Invite in Lake Stevens. “… It’s just amazing.”
Love and Darroch first squared off two weeks ago in the Los Angeles area, when they competed in one of the 400-meter races at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational.
In that race, they posted what remain the top two 400-meter times in Washington state this season, regardless of classification. Darroch ran a 57.33, while Love came in just behind her at 57.41.
“Her performances this year are really a testament to how hard she worked in the offseason and how hard she’s been working this season,” Meadowdale head coach Matt Vanni said of Love. “She’s very, very dedicated to the sport.
“As a coach, I have rarely worked with other athletes that love the sport as much as she does.”
The good news for Love and Darroch is they won’t have to face each other at state, with Meadowdale being in 3A and Sehome in 2A.
Love’s top 400-meter time of 57.41 is the fastest in 3A this season by a full 2.00 seconds. In 3A, she also ranks third in the 200 meters and 10th in the 100 meters.
“She’s a kid that I could see (being) down in the 56s,” Vanni said of Love’s 400-meter time. “If not at the end of this year, she’s gonna be down in the 56s next year, because she’s just a junior.”
OTHER TOP LOCAL PLACERS
— Kamiak junior Kalia Estes took second place in the girls 300 hurdles with a time of 46.81 seconds, finishing just 0.11 seconds behind Redmond senior Catalina Montanez. Estes led by a stride going into the final hurdle, but hit her foot on the top of it and stumbled as Montanez overtook her for the win.
Estes also placed fifth in the 100 hurdles and helped Kamiak to a fourth-place finish in the 4×400 relay. She highlighted a strong day for the Knights, who tied for fourth out of 47 schools in the girls team standings.
— Glacier Peak took second place in the girls 4×100 relay. The Grizzlies’ team of sophomore Gabriella Henrie, senior Greta Henrie, sophomore Ella Seelhoff and junior Jana Willems posted a time of 50.81 seconds in the race.
— Glacer Peak senior Katherine Streissguth cleared 11 feet to place second in the girls pole vault.
— Everett senior Anthony Ross-Rutter took second place in the boys triple jump with a personal-best mark of 42 feet, 11.25 inches. That mark ranks third in 3A and ninth in the state regardless of classification.
— Mariner junior Jaquan Means placed third in both boys hurdles races. He ran the 110 hurdles in 15.35 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 41.39 seconds.
— Stanwood senior Leia Jones took third place in the girls 800 meters with a personal-best 2:19.13. This past fall, Jones placed 24th in the 3A state cross country meet.
— Mountlake Terrace senior Alexis Dresher placed third in the girls javelin with a personal-best 116-6.
– Cedarcrest junior London Haley took third place in the boys 3,200 meters with a personal-best 9:41.09.
Sehome rolled to the boys team title with 68 points, finishing 23 points ahead of second-place Wenatchee. The Mariners won six of the 11 track events.
Redmond won the girls team title with 55.5 points, finishing 16.5 points ahead of second-place Sehome. The Mustangs won three events, including both the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
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