Kamiak’s Beighton wins pole vault; L. Stevens’ Bywater, defends 3,200-meter title

PASCO – Some people disregard the whole third-time-is-a-charm theory. But Sean Beighton turned an old cliche into reality.

Appearing in the pole vault at the Class 4A state track and field championships for the third straight year, the Kamiak High School senior exceeded his previous two showings by soaring all the way to the top. Beighton cleared 14 feet, 9 inches to win the 4A vault Friday at Edgar Brown Stadium.

“It feels amazing – state champion and putting all that work into it and finally getting the results,” said Beighton, who came into the meet tied with Woodinville’s Trevor Sodorff for the season’s top 4A vault (15-0).

Beighton, who did not place as a sophomore and was sixth in 2006, cleared 14-9 on his second attempt at the height. He finished ahead of Federal Way’s Viktor Gruy, an underdog who topped out at 14-6.

Beighton came through in a particularly pressure-packed moment en route to the title. He missed twice at 14-6 but, on his third and final try, barely crept over the bar.

“Oh, I was so nervous,” Beighton said. “I thought I hit (the bar too hard). 14-6 was insane.” Beighton, who will compete as a walk-on at the University of Washington, went on to easily clear 14-9. He estimated he could have cleared 15-6 on the attempt. Later, he missed all three tries at 15-4.

Beighton had hoped to go higher than 14-9, but his performance was remarkable considering that he competed with significant pain. Beighton suffered a tendon strain in his lower back May 18 at the district meet and didn’t practice at all until Friday.

Now, he said he’s ready to celebrate and take a few weeks off.

Nathan Simunds of Stanwood placed third in the vault (14-3).

In the 4A 3,200-meter finals, Lake Stevens junior Joey Bywater successfully defended his title. Bywater, who was a surprise winner in 2006, asserted his supremacy by building a sizable mid-race lead and finished in 9 minutes, 9.19 seconds. Sean Coyle (Central Valley) was second in 9:10.84.

Bywater glanced over his outside shoulder several times during the final lap. Coyle closed the gap late but it wasn’t enough to catch the Vikings standout.

Bywater, one of several athletes who helped Lake Stevens get in position for a serious run at the team title, said he was jittery before the race – a drastic change from a year ago, when he was relaxed and felt no pressure.

“It took me a long time to settle down for this race,” he said. “It was just so much different than last year. Last year I was care-free and wasn’t nervous and went out to see how many kids I could beat.”

At least one thing was the same for Bywater: his trip to the top of the podium. He has a strong chance to contend for the 1,600 crown today.

Mariner senior Dak Riek led early in the 3,200 and placed fourth.

Senior David McMurray of Lake Stevens placed third in the triple jump. It’s the first time he’s placed in the event. Battling a strong head wind, along with the rest of the jumpers, McMurray had a top jump of 21-8, three-fourths of an inch less than the runner-up, David Pollard of Emerald Ridge.

“It feels good (to place third),” McMurray said, “but I still feel bad ‘cause I should have got second.”

McMurray’s mild sadness will fade if he and the Vikings win the team title today. In 3A, the Everett boys also appear to be legitimate title contenders.

A quick recap: Day 1 featured 14 field finals and four track finals among able-bodied 3A and 4A girls and boys. (There were also several wheelchair finals.) The rest of the day was devoted to track preliminaries.

The bulk of the track finals take place today, along with 14 more field finals.

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