TACOMA — It was a golden opportunity for the Bremerton Knights girls 4×100 relay team.
And there was no way Lauryn Chandler, Nyaijah Johnson, T’Caela Wilcher and Tyishea McWhorter were going to let it slip through their perfectly manicured blue and gold fingertips.
The Knights foursome ran to a top time in 48.98 seconds, claiming the Class 2A state championship at Mount Tahoma High School Saturday afternoon.
.@BHSKnightFans girls 4×100 relay won the 2A state title in 48.98 and it wasn’t close Tyishea McWhorter, Nyaijah Johnson, T’Caela Wilcher, Lauryn Chandler (left, to right) @llaaurynnn pic.twitter.com/eLRRguzcE4
— Annette Griffus (@AnnetteWSSports) May 26, 2018
From Chandler’s opening leg, to a perfect handoff to freshman Johnson who blazed ahead to teammate and fellow freshman Wilcher and, finally, another perfect handoff to anchor McWhorter, the Knights were clearly the giants in their field of eight.
“All week I’ve been saying we could do this,” said Wilcher.
Fife finished second in 49.26 and Burlington-Edison was third in 49.96, nearly a full second back — an eternity when hundredths of a second are counted for or against you.
The girls’ friendship and chemistry was evident moments after the race as they clung to each other, exhausted and elated all at the same time. The four girls also had gone to a nail salon prior to the meet and had their nails painted blue, with each girl getting one golden nail on their finger representing what leg they raced.
“We couldn’t have done it without each other,” McWhorter said, adding they practice handoffs by calling each other’s names instead of yelling “stick” as most other relay teams do.
“After I go three steps I know I’m going to exchange it so I automatically put my hand back,” Johnson said. “T’Caela and I do talk, but we have such unique names we use each other names.”
“There’s no other Nyaijah or T’Caela out there,” Johnson laughed. “This has been fun for us.”
Johnson, McWhorter and Chandler knew this could be a special year but they needed a fourth teammate. So the girls recruited Wilcher, who wasn’t initially interested in competing.
“T’Caela came out and surprised us,” Johnson said.
“We had to recruit her,” Chandler chimed in.
“My mom didn’t want me to do track because I had another sport and she really wanted me to focus on my grades,” Wilcher said. “But the coaches started calling her.”
Johnson said there were rough patches all season as each one nursed various injuries along the way but it was all worth it when McWhorter crossed the line first.
They also plan on training together this summer with the Kitsap Fliers and go for a repeat and state record next season.
Chandler walked away with two first-place finishes in two days after she won the 100 hurdles and is believed to have set a West Sound record in 14.84. North Kitsap’s Reagan Colyer had the top time of 14.88 from the 2013 district meet. Chandler also broke her own school record with the PR.
“It kind of like set up the mood really,” Chandler said of her hurdles win, adding her fast first leg trickled down to each of her teammates. “We’re all fast.”
North Kitsap’s Raelee Moore and Olympic’s Hanna Troy also finished on the podium.
Troy placed fourth in the 100-meter dash in 12.30 seconds. Bremerton’s Johnson was eighth in 12.67. Troy was also seventh in the 200 in 26.29.
Moore, bothered by a quad injury since basketball season, gutted through to the finals where she placed fifth with a jump of 17-0.5.
“My goal was to get better than eighth place last year,” Moore said. She was told by coaches that she could do it, she just needed to do it when it counted. “It was nice to get it back into the 17s.”
— Annette Griffus (@AnnetteWSSports) May 26, 2018
NK teammate Annika Taylor finished fifth in the 800 in 2:19.53.
Olympic’s Adam Johnson was second in the always fast boys 100 dash. Charles Johnson of Cheney won in 10.75 followed by Oly’s Johnson in 11.06. Johnson also placed eighth in the 200.
In the 3A meet, Central Kitsap’s Ho’oponokauillani Fuiava placed second in the girls shot put with a throw of 42 feet. Fuiava is a freshman and was a little more than three feet behind winner Hadassah Ward of Gig Harbor in 45-5.5.
Bainbridge’s Carlo Ruggiero placed fourth in the 800 run in 1:54.89,
Deyondre Davis finished in third place in the 300-meter hurdles in 4A in a time of 38.83, just behind second-place finisher Matthew Howard of Bothell in 38.60. Chiawana’s Germain Barnes won in 37.79.
Other podium finishers from West Sound include North Kitsap’s Jameson Moore, eighth in the discus; South Kitsap’s Paxton DePoe and Evelyn Collins-Winn were seventh and eighth in the 4A 800 run; Bainbridge’s Emma Brundige was seventh in the 3A 100 dash; Kingston’s James Dillow was fifth in the 2A 400 and seventh in the 200; Central Kitsap’s Maya Nichols was seventh in the 3A 3,200 run; Bainbridge’s 4×400 relay placed fifth in 3A while the Spartans’ girls 4×400 relay was sixth.