TACOMA — Grant Buckmiller put on a show.
Each time the Lake Stevens sprinter stepped foot on the track, he was the meet’s must-see athlete.
Buckmiller blazed his way to individual victories in the 200 and 400 meters and delivered heroic anchor performances for the Vikings’ first-place 4×400 relay and second-place 4×100 relay squads Saturday during the third and final day of the 4A/3A/2A state track and field championships at Mount Tahoma High School.
“He’s amazing,” Vikings head coach Jeff Page said. “Just his talent, he’s so smooth and so fast, and the other thing about him is the way he is so calm and focused and business-like about it. Maybe that comes from the confidence of knowing you’re the fastest guy out there, but it’s still really impressive, just his whole demeanor.”
Buckmiller opened his impressive showing with a dominant performance in the 400 that left the rest of the field outclassed. The senior stormed out of the gates to the front of the pack and built a massive cushion that made his final 100 meters look like a one-man race. He finished the event in a personal-best 46.62 seconds and 3.13 seconds in front of his nearest competitor.
His winning run in the 200 was closer, yet he still held the lead throughout and posted a time of 21.34 seconds and finished over a stride in front of second place.
“It’s just hard work, making it to practice every day, being there to show out and being a great teammate,” Buckmiller said. “Being able to run with fast guys like this just helps me so much.”
Buckmiller made up considerable ground in his anchor leg and helped Lake Stevens’ 4×100 team, which entered the finals seeded fifth, to a second-place finish in a school-record 42.19 seconds.
The Lake Stevens standout capped his day with a memorable performance as the anchor of the 4×400 team. He took his handoff well behind the front of the pack but managed to chase down the leader in his first 200 meters, then pulled ahead and held off a late push for a winning time of 3:20.62, a season-best for the relay team, that secured the program’s second consecutive championship in the event.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Page said. “I never thought we’d have a sprinter like that.”
Buckmiller leaves the Lake Stevens program holding records in the 100, 200 and 400, as well as being a member of record-holding 4×100 relay team. He also set overall Snohomish County records in the 200 and 400 this season, according to Page.
“He’s the best high school sprinter to ever come through Snohomish County,” Page said.
Buckmiller’s heroics on Saturday paired with another strong showing by Lake Stevens’ hurdlers throughout the meet helped the defending 4A champion Vikings to a second-place finish behind Federal Way. Lake Stevens’ 63 points were five more than its winning mark a season ago, but Federal Way flat out dominated the jumping events with 60.5 points between the high jump, long jump and triple jump.
“Our kids had a really, really good meet. They came down and competed really well,” Page said. “Federal Way had a phenomenal meet. Two weeks ago, I thought if we go down to state and score 63 points we win.”
Junior Steven Lee Jr. placed third in the boys 300 hurdles in a personal-best 39.57 second and senior Leif Holmes with eighth at 41.24 seconds. Junior Brycen Conner took eighth in the pole vault with a mark of 13 feet, 6 inches.
On the girls side, senior Perla Ruiz placed fifth in the 200 with a time of 26.15 seconds. The Vikings’ 4×200 relay team (Ruiz, Olivia Fast, Brianna Tilghman, Jada Sarrys) placed eighth at 1:45.12.
Estes, Chase add to trophy haul for Kamiak
It was a banner meet for Kamiak athletes.
The Knights finished the three-day event with three individual state champions, including a pair of gold-medal winners Saturday.
Senior Kalia Estes held on to win a tense finish in the 4A girls 300 hurdles to deliver the Knights their second hurdles state champion of the meet.
Senior Jaedyn Chase emptied his tank at the right time to out-leg his competition in the 4A boys 3200 for his first career state title.
Estes started her race strong and built a solid lead before Emerald Ridge’s Mikayla Gardley began walking her down over the final 100 meters. The Kamiak standout eked out the title victory in a photo finish, edging Gardley by only one-hundredth of a second with a time of 44.17 seconds.
“I definitely heard her on the seventh hurdle,” Estes said. “What’s going through my head is just, ‘Focus on your own race, focus on your own race.’ We crossed the finish line (and) I saw her feet right next to mine and I was just like, ‘Oh my God!’ And then I turned at the scoreboard and I was staring at it.”
“I was just like staring at it and (thinking) my name better be on there,” she added.
It was the second top-four medal of the meet for Estes, who placed fourth in the 100 hurdles Friday.
Chase was caught as he hit the final turn of his eight-lap race, but the senior responded by putting everything he had into the final 200 meters for a stellar closing kick that was good for the win.
“It’s my last race,” Chase said. “I’m just going at it. I don’t care if I’m completely empty afterwards.”
Estes joined boys 110 hurdles champion Jaquan Means, who won his title Friday.
“I’m really excited for my school especially,” Estes said. “… The fact that two hurdlers from Kamiak are state champs, I think that’s amazing.”
Means nearly won his second title of the meet to add to Kamiak’s gold-medal haul, but the senior was forced to settle for second in the 300 hurdles Saturday, falling by just five-hundredths of a second to Kentridge’s Alex Conner.
Sophomore T’Andre Waverly added a pair of top-three medals with a runner-up finish in the boys 100 (11.03) and a third-place mark in the 200 (21.87).
Other state placers for the Knights on Saturday were senior Annabelle Heiman (seventh, girls 400, 56.68), junior Natalie Roberts (fifth, 3200, personal-best 10:56.97), junior Bella Hasan (seventh, long jump, 16-06.25) and the 4×400 relay team (Heiman, Emma Barrett Roberts, Estes), which finished seventh at 4:03.39.
The Kamiak boys finished in third place as a team with 52 points and the girls placed eighth with 25.
Arlington senior’s plan results in 800 state championship
Kellen Langford had a plan for his 3A boys 800 race: take the lead early, create separation and leave too much cushion for his opponents to make up.
The Arlington senior executed his strategy to perfection and never fell off the front of the pack on his way to claiming the state title. He posted a personal-best 1:51.67 to finish nearly two seconds in front of his nearest competitor.
“Me and my coach had the race plan to do exactly what I did in districts,” Langford said. “I take the lead and just try and split an even pace the first (lap) and then going into the second lap I just pick it up, and if I die at the last 200, that’s fine. My goal is to gap them and gap them hard.”
Langford held a comfortable lead for most of the race, but saw his advantage shrink to just a couple strides after the first 400. He then used a burst to create more separation and held strong for the win.
“It’s all just a dream right now, but there were a couple points where I could hear footsteps,” he said. “I was definitely aware of it, but I was confident I was going to get it.”
After winning the race, Langford shared an embrace with former teammate and current Washington State University distance runner Aiden Emerson, who won the same event at the state meet as a senior last spring.
“It’s just a pride thing to be a part of Arlington’s distance running,” Langford said.
Langford finished the state meet with three medals. He placed fifth in the 1600 Thursday and anchored Arlington’s 4×400 relay squad (Dallas Miller, James Scott, Ryan Rushton, Langford), which finished in fourth place with a 3:22.02 Saturday.
GP senior defies own expectations, wins 4A girls 100 title
Jana Willems wasn’t expecting to walk away with state gold, but she did after defying her own expectations in a major way.
The standout Glacier Peak senior sprinter entered the 4A girls 100 as the second seed but a full quarter-second off the pace of Tahoma’s Brooke Lyons, who was the state runner-up and finished two spots in front of Willems a season ago.
Willems came off the blocks hot, built an early lead and out-leaned Lyons in a photo finish with her mark of 12.30 seconds for a razor-thin margin of victory by one-hundredth of a second.
“I didn’t expect that,” Willems said of her title. “Oh my gosh, I was like not expecting to win that at all. … I’m just really excited right now.”
After the race finished, Willems anxiously watched the scoreboard to see the final times come through and shared embraces with her fellow competitors who congratulated her on the victory.
The senior became the second state champion amongst her siblings, joining brother Ethan who won the 4A boys 400 in 2019.
“It’s crazy,” Willems said. “I’ve worked really hard the past couple years really getting back into track because I wasn’t quite as serious about it until last year. It’s really exciting to see all my hard work pay off the way it did today.”
Willems also placed third in the 200 (25.79) and was a member of Grizzlies’ 4×100 relay team (Alexandra Brown, Keira Fleenor, Ella Seelhoff, Willems), which placed fourth with a season-best 49.16 seconds.
Stanwood sophomore continues peaking at right time, wins 3A boys high jump
Elias Caniglia has saved his best jumps for the right times.
The Stanwood sophomore didn’t clear 6 feet in a meet throughout the regular season, but he’s done nothing but improve and shatter previous personal-bests in every opportunity he’s had in the postseason.
Caniglia hit the 6-foot barrier for the first time at the Wesco 3A North championships May 12. He bested that total a week later with a 6-02 leap that won him a district title, the first top finish in an individual event all year for the sophomore.
After another personal-best — this time on the season’s biggest stage — Caniglia can proclaim himself as the state’s best high jumper in 3A. The sophomore cleared 6 feet, 6 inches to capture the 3A boys high jump.
“It was nothing new,” he said of continuing his run of PRs. “It was just adrenaline I guess from being here.”
In the lead up to Caniglia’s winning jump, he needed all three attempts to hit 6-04 and fend runner-up Shukurani Ndayiraglje from Everett.
“I’d hit 6-4 in practice, so I knew I could hit 6-4,” Caniglia said. “… It was just, ‘you hit this, you win state.’ So I was thinking that.”
Stanwood junior Grace Crain notched a personal-best throw of 127-10 and placed second in the 3A girls javelin. Senior Abigail Danielson’s personal-best 44.95 seconds earned a third place finish in the girls 300 hurdles. Freshman Mary Andelin placed fourth in the girls 3200 with a personal-best time of 10:49.69;
Fueled by last year’s miss, Snohomish sprinter caps career with 400 championship
Avery Keith has been fueled by the hunger created from missing out on his opportunity last season.
The Snohomish standout couldn’t quite crack the 3A boys 400 finals last spring, but he wasn’t going to let it happen again as a senior.
Keith did more than just qualify for Saturday’s final in the 400 — he won it all.
The senior ran a personal-best 48.00 seconds in the event and pulled out the victory by just four-hundredths of a second.
“I was here last year and didn’t make it to the final,” Keith said. “Now I come back here and win it a year later. It’s amazing.”
Keith, who won the same event at the Eason Invitational earlier this spring, turned on the jets over the final 200 meters, caught Mt. Spokane’s Boden Gardner and had just enough left in the tank to finish off the win.
“I always try to push for the 200 meters at that turn,” Keith said. “You have to push in the 400 right there.”
Keith also anchored the Panthers’ 4×400 relay team (Parker Jackson, Brendan Cross, Kai Yoder, Keith), which placed third at 3:21.91.
Snohomish sophomore Baella Stich took fourth in the 3A girls 400 with a personal-best 57.68 seconds and added a seventh-place finish in the 200. Teammate senior Isabella Martuch placed eighth in the 200.
Other local placers
Meadowdale senior Tresley Love took second in the 3A girls 400 with a season-best time of 56.62 seconds. The Mavericks’ 4×400 relay team (Kennedy Shepard, Aubriana Sadler, Rachel Meas, Love) placed sixth in 4:04.15.
Everett senior Shukurani Ndayiraglje earned a second-place finish in the 3A boys high jump at 6-04.
Archbishop Murphy senior Anna Moeller finished second in the 2A girls pole vault at 10-06.
Lynnwood sophomore Zaire Griffin posted a time of 10.98 seconds for a third-place finish in the 3A boys 100. The Royals’ boys 4×100 relay team (Griffin, Jordan Whittle, Trent Whitehead, Shayden McIntyre) finished seventh in a season-best 42.74 seconds. Griffin also placed seventh in the 200 (22.50) and Whittle eighth (22.72).
Mountlake Terrace freshman Brynlee Dubiel placed fourth in the 3A girls 300 hurdles in a personal-best 45.32 seconds.
Cedarcrest freshman Addy Jenkins placed fourth in the 2A girls 300 hurdles in a personal-best 46.93 seconds. Junior Ethan Swenson ran a time of 50.76 seconds to place sixth in the boys 400.
Shorewood junior Keiyu Mamiya took fifth in the 3A boys 800 with a 1:55.36. Junior Amelia Severn earned sixth in the girls 800 with a season-best 2:16.48 and sophomore Hanna Bruno took seventh at 2:16.98. Shorewood’s girls 4×200 relay team (Olivia Wilde, Jazmin Coleman, Maddie Brouillard, Mila Fotinatos) placed eighth with a season-best 1:45.89, and the girls 4×400 relay team (Molly McGeoy, Harper Lara-Kerr, Bruno, Severn) placed eighth at 4:24.27.
Monroe sophomore Mason Davis finished seventh in the 3A boys 100 at 11.16 seconds.
Mariner senior Angela Rodriguez-Frias finished eight in the 4A girls long jump at 16-05.25.
Lakewood junior Bohdy Stokes placed sixth in the 2A boys 300 hurdles with a time of 40.98 seconds and junior Landon Davidson was eighth at 41.79 seconds. Senior Ben Nuss placed eighth in the 2A boys javelin with a personal-best 157-07. The Cougars’ girls 4×100 relay team (Kenzie Thompson, Megan Omlid, Sandra Le, Julie Chrisman) placed sixth in 51.06 seconds.
Grace Academy’s Hess, relay teams win titles at Yakima state meet
Pearce Hess earned three state titles, one as an individual and two as a member of relay teams, during a strong showing by the Grace Academy boys at the 1B/2B/1A state championships at Eisenhower High School in Yakima.
Hess ran a winning time of 51.63 seconds in the 1B 400. He teamed up with Austin Birkhofer, Jakody Huckaby and Conner Birkhofer for a first-place finish in the 4×100 relay at 45.45 seconds, and Hess, Jack Mellema, Austin Birkhofer and Huckaby delivered a 3:34.93 to win the 4×400 relay title.
Huckaby also placed seventh in the 100 and eight in the 200, and Austin Birkhofer took sixth in the 200.