As district track and field meets go, last Friday's SW Washington District 4 2A Championships in Woodland produced their share of highlights and disappointments.
For Columbia High's boys and girls teams, the positives definitely outnumbered the negatives during the 4.5-hour-long state-qualifying meet.
CHS's boys qualified athletes in five individual events and both relays, but lost the district championship by eight points to Woodland (63 to 56).
The CHS girls didn't challenge for the district title. However, they will be sending eight athletes to state to compete in two individual events and all three relays.
Qualifying five relay teams for the state championships was a first for CHS under Bruins Coach Doug Miller.
"I thought going into district that we had a strong chance of getting all five relay teams to state, and we did," Miller noted. "That's never been done before."
With junior Matt Lovrin subbing for injured senior Chris Davis, the Bruins won the boys 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays in season-best times.
Because of injury and illness, Lovrin hadn't run a relay since early in the spring. But when Davis strained a leg muscle during the long jump competition, CHS coaches turned to Lovrin.
Lovrin ran the second leg for the 4x100 team that won with a time of 45.3 seconds and anchored the 4x400 crew that finished four circuits of the Woodland track in 3:31.4--more than five seconds faster than its previous-best time of the spring.
Not long before, Lovrin posted a personal record (2:00.2) in the 800 run, cruising to victory in the second best time in the state this season.
"Matt's back," Miller said of his star runner's return to form. "I think he's ready to pop a big one at state."
Miller also said junior Levi Miller could pull off one of the biggest surprises at this year's 2A state meet.
Miller (no relation to his coach) was the only CHS athlete to qualify for state in more than one open event.
The first-time state qualifier placed third in the 110 high hurdles, in a PR time of 16.9 seconds, and second in the 300 intermediate hurdles.
Miller charged to the lead of the 300 hurdles race and opened up a sizable lead through the second and final turn before starting down the home stretch in front of the Woodland stadium grandstand.
But, because he went out so fast initially, he tired at the end and caught the final hurdle. He fell and lost his advantage to Elma's Erik Hiles.
He scraped his right shoulder in the fall but had the presence to get up and scramble across the finish line before the six trailing hurdlers could pass him.
The fall prevented Miller from setting a PR in the event, but his go-for-broke effort convinced his coach that he'll be a threat to challenge for the state title.
"Levi's an unknown and that could work to his advantage," Coach Miller said. "If he can get ahead like he did Friday, he'll be hard to catch."
Nobody caught CHS sophomore Andrew Culp in the boys 100 dash. The sprinter topped a field of eight to win his first district title and book his second trip to state in the event.
Junior Will Brasuell earned his first state berth in an open event with a fourth-place finish in the 400.
Lovrin, Miller, Culp and Brasuell will be accompanied to Cheney Thursday morning by Davis, who failed to qualify for state in the long or triple jump but will be going as a relay alternate.
In the girls competition, seniors Katie Mansfield and Alexa Williams both claimed return tickets to state in open events and relays.
Williams, second at district in the high jump, will be making her third straight appearance at state. Mansfield, second in the district triple jump, qualified in that event for the second year in a row.
Joining them for the road trip to state, in the relays, will be seniors Meghan McCutcheon, Sylvia Kreiter and Jeni Stembridge, and juniors Abby Zuck, Alycia Rohwer and Anna Zuck.
CHS quartets finished second in the 4x100, third in the 4x200 and fourth in the 4x400 relays at district.
Columbia High's excitement after Culp's victory in the 100, however, was tempered later in the meet by the sprinter's false-start disqualification in the 200 final.
The favorite in the race, Culp got out of the blocks fast and was into the first curve before the starter fired a second shot that cancelled the start.
It was the meet's first false-start disqualification. A second followed in the girls 200 final.
"Sprinters are trained to anticipate the start and Andrew got caught jumping the gun," Miller said. "It happens. Fortunately, he's only a sophomore and will have another chance."
CHS seniors Zach Tindall and Krista Bakke, both first-time district-meet participants, used up their last chances to get to state in open events.
Tindall, in the boys triple jump, and Bakke, in the girls discus, failed to reach the finals of their specialties.
Junior Anna Zuck (3200) and sophomore Nolan Kenoyer also competed at district but missed the top-four cutoff.
"We finished right about where I thought we would" in terms of qualifying athletes for state, Miller said. "With relay alternates, we'll take a good group of (13) kids to Cheney, and I think they'll represent Columbia pretty well."