Under excellent racing conditions, the Lopez boy’s track team claimed the second place trophy over 26 teams at the State 1B Track and Field Championships at Eastern Washington State University in Cheney, Wash. May 23-24. The Lady Lobos squad finished in eighth place in a field of 29 teams.
This year’s Lopez team of 18 was the largest to qualify for the state meet in many years. Many athletes qualified in multiple events.
The highlight of the meet was the boys’ record-setting 4x100m relay. The boys took special pains to ready themselves for their shot at the title, clipping their hair close in crew cuts the night before the race in an attempt to intimidate their opponents. “Their parents had to look twice to recognize their offspring down on the track,” said assistant coach Mike Strom.
Terrell Carter exploded out of the blocks, getting the race off to a great start for Lopez against the fastest runners in the state. Sebastian Lasbo took the handoff, likely running the fastest 100m in his life, before handing off to Keaton Farris. Farris, starting in the middle of the pack, disappeared behind the infield bleachers on the final turn, and when he emerged, he was leading, giving Lopez’s leading 100m sprinter, Jordan Smith, a few yards of room for the final leg. There was no stopping Smith, as he hurled himself toward the finish and a state championship in 45.88 seconds, breaking the school record in the process.
“The Lopez fans leapt to their feet and the roar of the crowd was heard in Spokane!” said coach Strom. “Keaton’s father Freddy Farris was on hand to see the record, that was set by his team when he was a Lopez High School senior in 1990, broken by to his son and teammates. A proud moment for a Lopez dad!”
The boys’ 4x400m relay, run by Carter, Farris, Lasbo and Emmett Lawrence, placed third in a new school record time of 3:40.53.
The 4x100m relay took its toll on Smith who had to immediately resume high jumping. The defending State high jump champion placed second, not getting to the heights he had jumped previously during the season.
Carter went on to place second in the 400m run at a blistering pace of 51.91 seconds, becoming one of two runners to break last year’s meet record and setting a new school record for that event as well.
Lasbo, running the fastest 800m run of his life at 2:05.71, earned third place, coming in ahead of many runners who usually dominate the event in the state.
“Our boys’ hurdlers came into their own at last, after barely missing qualification for the State meet last year,” said coach Strom. Sam Barr and Jordan Haber both set new personal bests. Haber also set new school records in the 110m high hurdle and the 300m intermediate hurdle events.
“This year’s courage award has to go to our distance runner, Billy PostvanderBurg,” said coach Strom. “After a great season last year, he has been plagued by knee injuries this season and been unable to train for weeks at a time. PostVanderBurg finished seventh in the mile, to probably the loudest cheering of the day from the Lopez fans!”
Competing in the triple jump, Ben Strom hurled himself over 39 feet in his final attempt, smashing his previous record and earning a fourth place finish.
Freshman Ellen Fisher ran a tough mile in 6:08.57 and a 3200m race in 13:45.88 with the best runners in the state. Her time in the mile garnered her sixth place and she took a fifth place in the 3200m. “She was so nervous before the races that she was sick,” said coach Strom. “Once she started running, she was wonderful to watch, with a beautiful, steady stride.”
Erin Wilbur, another freshman, ran to a new personal best in the 300m hurdles, good enough for seventh place.
Defending State Champion high jumper Laura Strom had a good day, after struggling in the two previous meets. “Her form was right on and she seemed to float over the bar effortlessly,” said coach Strom Her winning height of 5’2” earned her another State title and a new 1B State record. Laura Strom competed in a total of three events – the most for the girls’ team – and contributing the most points to the team score.
Wilbur, the Degraaf sisters Ruthie and Rosanna, along with Lisa Vaughn ran the 4x100m relay early on Saturday and then had to rerun it at the end of the competition due to a baton passing irregularity. They placed fourth in a photo finish. The 4x200m relay, with the Degraafs along with Lindsey Cummins and Laura Strom, finished sixth.
“We had an amazing showing at the meet. The boys’ second place finish and the girls’ eighth place finish are stupendous, considering we are from a small island school,” said coach Strom. “The Lopez cheering section was by far the loudest in the stadium, with both parents and teammates urging the runners to the finish line and applauding the athletes as they mounted the podiums to receive their awards.”