two more medals
Colville High senior Joellee Buckner, in her first season throwing the javelin, proved to be a quick learner last week at the State 2A Track and Field Championships at Mt. Tahoma High School (Tacoma).
Buckner, headed to Western Washington University to play volleyball, won the State 2A javelin by exceeding her previous best by six-feet, seven-inches and uncorking a throw of 137-11 during the second day of Star Trackâs XXXI in Tacoma.
While Buckner was the major success story for Colvilleâs contingent of seven athletes to the State meet, it was a big weekend for all the Indians in the Puget Sound region. All seven made the podium and brought home medals.
âThe goal is to win your event, but being in the top eight in the state puts you on the podiumâthat is a huge achievement,â pointed out CHS head coach, Ty Brown. âSometimes the feeling is happy, yet unsatisfied when you know you could do better. But the big picture is that this is a big-time meet and to compete for a medal is a wonderful thing.â
Competing for CHS at Tacoma were Mackayla McLaughlin, Chelsea Phillips, Malia Luu and Alyonna Gudima in the 4x100 relay; Joellee Buckner in the javelin; Tora Luu in the high jump and Cainan Holte in the discus.
AT A GLANCE
For Buckner, who before this season hadnât thrown the javelin, the meet couldnât have possibly been any more rewarding. Coming into the season, the volleyball standout hoped to be able to throw the javelin somewhere over 100 feet.
That didnât prove to be a problem.
She gave up softball a couple of years back and competed in the jumps last spring before getting into the javelin.
The winning throw came on her second attempt in the finals.
âThe winning of the State title in your event is something that can never be taken away and will be something to talk about for years to come,â coach Brown said of Bucknerâs achievement.
Buckner has been among the stateâs top javelin throwers all spring long. Winning in Tacoma was the goal, but it wouldnât be easy.
âShe has been consistent the past few weeks with her throws over 120 feet,â coach Brown explained. Joellee needed a big day to come out on top. With her first three throws (at Mt. Tahoma), it was not looking like her day. She did not get any of those to go over 120 feet, but she did qualify for the finals and had three more throws to improve.â
Improve Buckner did. On her first throw of the finals, she uncorked a throw of 134-07. That throw propelled her into first place. On her next attempt, Buckner hit a PR of 137-11. That was good enough to win a title.
âIt was really an incredible feat because itâs her first year throwing and because she throws on a short approach,â Brown said. âOf course, the great sub-plot is that Bob (Gumm) is her throwâs coach and her step-dad, so it was a double good day for the family.â
Sketchy in prelims
For the CHS 4x100 relay team, a foursome that won the State 1A title last spring in Cheney, just getting to the finals was a task.
âThey came into the meet ranked fifth in the StateâŠthey knew it would take some work to get to the finals,â Brown said of a 4x100 team that came on late in the spring.
The CHS 4x100 ran in the prelims last Thursday night, hoping to make the top eight and get into Saturdayâs finals. They got the job done, finishing seventh (50.32).
There were some nervous moments in the qualifier when McLaughlin and another runner collided in the exchange zone on the first curve. But the CHS senior recovered to get the baton to Phillips.
In the finals, CHS came through with clean handoffs and a PR time of 50.02. That was good for sixth place âamong some really great relay teams from around the state,â Brown said.
In the high jump, freshman Tora Luu was one of only two frosh in the high jump competition. She came in ranked at the top in 2A with a season PR of 5-04.
In a tough competition, Luu was able to clear 5-00 and ultimately finished in a tie for eighth at that height. Five-four won the event.
âWith 16 jumpers starting at an opening height of 4-06, the field was tough,â Brown pointed out. âAll 16 jumpers were still in the competition at 4-10. Tora cleared that height, and was one of nine jumpers who moved up to 5-00.â
Luu successfully negotiated 5-00, but missed on all her attempts at 5-02. With the tie-breaker, she finished tied for eighth and an podium spot.
âIt was disappointing for her not to jump to her potential, but it should be a good feeling to be able to take home some hardware from the biggest meet of the year,â Brown said of his talented youngster. âShe has three more years to compete, and with this experience, she will be mentally stronger and ready to compete.â
Six State medals for Phillips in an outstanding career
Easily the busiest CHS athlete at Mt. Tahoma was Phillips. The senior standout competed in the 100 high hurdles, long jump and 4x100 relay.
Phillips had an off day in the 100-meter hurdles (16.10) and just missed the finals (10th place).
âOverall, this is great considering she was the 10th best hurdler in the State,â Brown said.
In the long jump, Phillips jumped 16-08 and finished seventh.
That capped an outstanding career for Phillips at CHS. The long jump medal made it six career State medals.
âChelsea had a great track and field record at Colville High School,â Brown said. âShe is one of the great ones and will be missed by the program. Chelsea was our girlâs MVP and she truly lived up to that role on a daily basis.â
The CHS girls finished 14th out of 45 teams with 15.5 points.
âThe coaching staff couldnât be more proud of these girls,â Brown said. âWith the youth on the team and the girls returning for next season, we have a lot to look forward to.â
Sehome won the 2A girlâs meet with 74 points. Bellingham was second with 49.50. CHS Great Northern League rival Cheney was third with 49 points.
East Valley of Spokane was eighth with 32 points.
On the 2A boyâs side, Sehome made it a rare double, winning with 66 points. Tumwater was second with 52 points.
Deer Park was seventh to lead GNL participants (28 points).
On the CHS boyâs side at Mt. Tahoma, senior Cainan Holte was the only male to make it to State for the Indians. He finished fourth (158-06).
New school record
A throw of 169-06 won the event.
Holte came into the event top-ranked after a very good senior campaign (which included a new school record in the event).
Holte came out strong with the 158-06 in the prelims. But after two throws out of sector in the prelims, he came into the finals a bit off. That trend continued.
âHe was just a bit off and continued to throw to the right of the sector lines (foul),â Brown said. âCainan was able to land a good mark in the finals, but his first throw of the meet was his best.â
The fourth at Tacoma came on the heels of last seasonâs third place discus finish at the State 1A meet.
âCainan is another of our athletes who will be missed,â Brown said of the track and football standout. âHe is our only male senior on the team and his skills in the throws helped him have a wonderful career at the high school level.â
Brown said that Holte hopes to continue his athletic career at Community Colleges of Spokane.
Brown and his fellow coaches were pleased with the way the Indians were able to compete after moving up from the Class 1A Northeast A League to the 2A GNL.
âAll in all, it was a good year,â Brown said. âWe were able to compete at a high level in a new, larger 2A division. Some good points were that we were able to add pole vault for the first time in decades and we had a great core group of vaulters.â
Brown said the teamâs younger athletes âlearned a lot about how to compete and how to be part of a team and develop character skills.â
The team participated in two community outreach events or service learning projects. There was Holteâs new school record in the discus and Bucknerâs individual State title.
âAll of these things are what make this a great sport and activity for any student in the school,â Brown added. âThe coaching staff does a great job connecting kids of all different abilities and personalitiesâŠoverall, the Colville track and field program is a wonderful place for kids.â