SNOHOMISH — This year’s edition of the Eason Invitational was the largest ever, drawing more than 100 teams from Western Washington and beyond.
Yet for the second time in three years, it was the hometown Grizzlies who owned the day at one of the state’s biggest annual prep track and field meets.
Highlighted by four individual champions and a relay victory, co-host Glacier Peak captured both the boys and girls team titles at Saturday’s 31st annual Larry Eason Invitational at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“Man, our kids are phenomenal this year,” Grizzlies coach Loren Childers said. “We have a lot of high-caliber individuals. … Our main concern is not to win this meet — it’s to put on a good meet for everybody else. Our kids just happen to be really good this year.”
Glacier Peak claimed the girls team title with 53 points, finishing 12 points ahead of second-place Lake Oswego (Oregon). The Grizzlies took the boys team crown in a nail-biter, scoring 36 points to finish a half-point in front of second-place Edmonds-Woodway.
Glacier Peak’s dominance Saturday was reminiscent of the 2017 Eason Invitational, when the Grizzlies won the boys team title and placed second in the girls team standings. This year, however, they were competing against an additional 40-plus teams.
“It was really great,” Glacier Peak senior Brooke Wallace said of the Grizzlies’ title sweep in front of their hometown fans. “I know everyone’s been working really hard this season, so as it moves into the end of the season, it’s really cool to see it all paying off for everybody.”
The Glacier Peak girls were led by three victories from their distance team, which is building on the success this past fall of the Grizzlies’ state title-winning girls cross country squad.
“The pack of us all working together during practice I think really helps push and motivate each other every single day,” Wallace said.
Wallace comfortably won the 3,200 meters with a time of 10 minutes, 58.34 seconds, setting a new personal best by nearly 15 seconds. She primarily ran the 800 and 1,600 in years past, but has developed a feel for track’s longest race.
“This year, I’ve actually kind of started to figure out how it works and how to run it,” Wallace said. “It’s kind of weird coming from the 800 and the mile, where if you don’t feel like you’re all-out sprinting, you’re not going fast enough. You have to learn to pace (yourself) and keep a strong mental game.”
“Brooke has found herself this year,” Glacier Peak distance coach Dan Parker added. “She’s always been a leader for us, and she’s always been a great athlete and a great runner. But this season she’s really found herself as far as track goes.”
Glacier Peak junior Aviry Stratton built an early lead and ran away from the pack to win the girls 1,600 meters by more than nine seconds, crossing the line in 4:59.23.
“She just wanted to race,” Parker said. “She hadn’t raced in a week, and she is a person that likes to compete. (She’s) the ultimate competitor.”
The Glacier Peak girls distance medley relay team of Adisen Stratton, Lauryn Anne Ardry, Alexis Palmer and Wallace also took first place, cruising to victory with a winning time of 12:43.41.
“Our girls distance team (was) just phenomenal,” Childers said.
Glacier Peak junior Ethan Willems, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, led the boys team. The standout sprinter continued his stellar comeback campaign by winning the 400 meters in 48.51 seconds, and placing second in the 200 meters with a time of 22.00 seconds.
It’s been a success-filled past two weekends for Willems, who won both the 400 and 200 meters last Saturday at the prestigious Pasco Invitational. His winning 400-meter times the past two weekends are the fastest in the entire state this season by a considerable margin, according to Athletic.net. No other runner in the state has broken the 49-second mark.
“Coming off that knee injury and being as strong as he is, that’s a rare thing,” Childers said. “That goes to his commitment and dedication. He loves the sport and he wants to get better. He has some pretty lofty goals for himself.”
Glacier Peak senior Riley McDowell, a three-time state placer, pulled away on the final lap to win the boys 1,600 meters. He crossed the line in 4:16.02, beating second-place Lucas Lacambra of Edmonds-Woodway by just over a second.
McDowell has been battling stomach pains, Parker said, but is rounding back to health. His time Saturday was within 0.65 seconds of his personal best, which came during a fifth-place finish at last year’s Class 4A state meet.
Several other Glacier Peak athletes also earned top-three finishes to help key the Grizzlies’ team titles.
Glacier Peak sophomore Aaliyah Collins took second place in the girls 400 meters with a time of 59.03 seconds. Noah Forman, a senior, placed second in the boys javelin with a throw of 172 feet, 1 inch. Katherine Potts, also a senior, took third in the girls discus at 119-0.
The Glacier Peak girls 4×100 relay team added a third-place finish.
“It was a good day for us,” Childers said.
Other local winners
Edmonds-Woodway seniors Dylan Hartono and Deyago Peraza finished 1-2 in the boys 3,200 meters with significant personal bests.
Hartono took first place with a time of 9:20.04, beating his previous best by more than 15 seconds. Peraza finished just behind in second place at 9:21.99, improving his personal best by nearly nine seconds.
“They just ran really aggressively and really well,” Edmonds-Woodway distance coach Al Bonney said. “… It was unbelievable. In this meet, to be able to see (those big personal bests) happen is pretty thrilling.”
Cascade senior Max Nelson won the boys 300 hurdles in 39.34 seconds, which is the third-fastest time in the entire state this season. It also was within just 0.12 seconds of his personal best, which came in a fifth-place finish at last year’s 4A state championships.
“It feels really good to win a meet like this, and it kind of tells me just where I’m at (during) this point of the season,” he said. “… I’m in postseason form right now.”
Cedar Park Christian senior Samuel Van Peursem won a pair of throwing events, taking first place in both the boys shot put (61-0.5) and discus (171-7). The University of Washington signee is the top-ranked shot putter and second-ranked discus thrower in the entire state this season.
Other notable locals
Everett junior Jayden White earned a pair of top-four finishes, claiming second place in the boys shot put (52-7) and fourth in the discus (143-7).
Meadowdale senior Raymond Free placed second in the boys triple jump (43-11).
Coupeville senior Danny Conlisk was second in the boys 400 meters (50.16).
Marysville Getchell senior Mikail Montez placed second in the girls shot put with a personal-best 39-5.75.
Kamiak senior Tara Koonce took second in the girls hammer throw (142-0).
Snohomish junior Ellie Grant finished third in the girls triple jump (35-4.75).
Kamiak sophomore Isabelle Leonard and Snohomish sophomore Bree Nichols both cleared 5 feet to tie for third place in the girls high jump.
Shorecrest took second place in the boys distance medley relay and Edmonds-Woodway placed third. The Warriors also claimed second place in the girls distance medley relay.