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The Knights repeat as girls 4x100 champs while North Kitsap’s girls 4x200 wins first title. Central Kitsap’s Seth Tower claims 3A high jump title

TACOMA — As the rain started to pour down on the track at Mount Tahoma High School, the only thing on the minds of Bremerton’s 4×100 girls relay was keeping the baton, and their hands, as dry as possible.

“I had my hands in my shirt,” said Bremerton’s Njaiyah Johnson as she waited for the start of the 2A final. 

The undefeated Knights — and defending state 2A champions — watched as earlier relays had trouble on their exchanges. One by one those teams had their hopes of celebrating a state title dashed.

Bremerton’s Lauryn Chandler, Johnson, Te’Caela Wilcher and Tyishea McWhorter were determined to not let that happen.

The handoffs were not the cleanest, but the Knights earned back-to-back titles Saturday at the 4A/3A/2A state track and field championship. 

Bremerton’s McWhorter anchored the relay to a winning time of 49.05 seconds to edge Renton in 49.34.

“We literally had the worst handoffs we’ve had all year and we still managed to win,” Chandler said. 

Chandler said she kept the baton under her shirt until the official told the runners to get set. Her handoff to Johnson was shaky as Johnson was much further ahead than Chandler had anticipated, forcing Chandler to bring the baton up quickly so it wouldn’t be dropped. Johnson’s handoff to Wilcher wasn’t clean but didn’t cost the Knights much in terms of time or position. When Wilcher cleanly handed the baton to McWhorter, however, the senior was off to the finish line.

“If we were to be perfectly 100 percent honest, we came here to get the win,” Wilcher said, “that’s what we came here to do.”

McWhorter takes pride in her anchor position and relishes the role.

“I don’t get ran down,” she said. “I’m good at chasing people. I don’t like losing. If I see someone ahead of me, I have to get them. I have to.”

While Bremerton’s foursome was the same as last year, North Kitsap’s 4×200 relay was so deep the Vikings didn’t stick with Emerson Bollert, Raelee Moore, Maddie Pruden and Alyssa Cullen until late in the season. 

“We have six of the strongest ladies I’ve ever worked with,” Moore said. 

But just like Bremerton, North was the top seed in the event and with that come expectations of winnings. 

The Vikings found themselves in a tight race until the final few meters when Cullen pulled ahead of Renton anchor Faith Richardson to cross the line for the win in 1:44.35 to Renton’s 1:44.72. 

Cullen, who also finished fourth in the 200, fifth in the triple jump, and sixth in the 100, said the goal coming in was to just race clean.

“We came into it first, we’ve been doing really well this year and it’s like we really wanted to finish (strong,” Cullen said. “How do you get better than a state championship?”

Moore couldn’t have asked for a better way to end her high school career but admitted the tears hit her Saturday morning on the way to Tacoma. She will compete in track and field next season at Lipscomb University in Nashville.

“On the bus, I just started crying,” she said, adding maybe the emotional release helped her focus for the relay. “I think I was too focused on it at first, and the crying brought the tears which brought on the laughing so I kind of got distracted.”

North Kitsap's Raelee Moore, second from left, smiles with teammates Alyssa Cullen, left, Maddie Pruden, second from right, and Emerson Bollert, right, wait for the medal ceremony after winning the 2A 4x200 relay at the 4A/3A/2A state track and field championships Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
North Kitsap’s Raelee Moore, second from left, smiles with teammates Alyssa Cullen, left, Maddie Pruden, second from right, and Emerson Bollert, right, wait for the medal ceremony after winning the 2A 4×200 relay at the 4A/3A/2A state track and field championships Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
(Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

The relays were not the only champions for Kitsap on the final day of the high school sports season. 

Seth Tower of Central Kitsap astonished himself with a win in the 3A high jump. 

“It was very surprising,” Tower said after receiving his first-place medal. “I was not expecting it at all.”

Tower was tied for the second seed heading into the event with a jump of 6-4, but was off the mark set by top seed Mykel Campbell of Lincoln with a height of 6-6. Tower cleared the 6-4 mark with room to spare and, after getting up off the pad, gave a shy smile to his competition. He then cleared at 6-6 for the win.

“I think I can improve a lot more because my form’s actually not very good but I think I have a lot of potential right now,” he said. 

Central Kitsap's Seth Tower clears the bar during the finals of the 3A high jump at the 4A/3A/2A state track and field championships Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. Tower, a junior, won the state championship with a height of 6 feet, 6 inches. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
Central Kitsap’s Seth Tower clears the bar during the finals of the 3A high jump at the 4A/3A/2A state track and field championships Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. Tower, a junior, won the state championship with a height of 6 feet, 6 inches. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

Central Kitsap freshman Kymeal Gaulden came away from her first state meet with three second-place finishes and setting the stage for an exciting future. 

In the 3A 100-meter dash, Gaulden raced Kamiakin’s Katherine Petsch all the way to the finish line with Petsch edging Gaulden 12.40 to 12.48. Gaulden then ran the anchor leg on the Cougars 4×100 relay which finished second to Kamiakin, 49.24 to 49.62. 

Gaulden then went for her third championship of the day, this time in the 200 dash, and again finished second. Camille Duckett of Roosevelt won the race in 24.91 with Gaulden finishing in 25.29.

South Kitsap’s Deyondre Davis attempted his second championship in the 4A 300 hurdles after winning the 110 hurdles on Friday. 

Davis was in a tough field and the junior finished third in 37.95. Davis said he would have liked to win the race, but he was happy with going under 38 seconds. 

Davis said it just gives him more incentive to work on his craft heading into the offseason. Davis is going to compete in the outdoor/indoor season for his club team, Thriller Track and Field in Port Orchard, and was invited to the Brooks Invite this summer along with the Junior Olympics, he said. 

His focus will be the 400 hurdles, where he hopes to earn a college scholarship.

“I like to think I’m a better distance hurdler than 110s,” he said. “But it might not always seem like that.”

Davis would like to be in the low 37s and maybe break into 36 seconds in time for the state meet next year. 

“I’m going to be training all through the offseason,” he said. “I”m really going to try to focus on my block starts, overall speed and fine-tune everything.”

Bremerton’s McWhorter placed third in the 2A triple jump after hitting her one and only mark in the final at 35-7.25. McWhorter said she doesn’t spend much time during practice on her jumps but is focused on the 100 and relay handoffs. 

“Basically everything I do is like miracles,” she said. “To be here, I’m like ‘wow.’ I’m so thankful I placed third.”

Olympic’s Hanna Troy won two more individual medals to finish her high school career. The senior placed seventh in the 100 and triple jump, to go along with her sixth-place finish in the long jump on Friday. Oly’s Adam Johnson placed fifth in the 100 dash.

NK’s strong overall performance tied the Vikings for second place in the team standings with Port Angeles as both teams scored 39 points. Bellingham won the meet with 42 points. Bremerton finished ninth with 25 points. On the boys side, Sequim won the team title with 61 points. In boys 4A, South Kitsap finished fifth with 26 points. 

ALSO: North Kitsap’s Sydney Mahitka placed third in the discus … Bainbridge’s Emma Brundige finished fifth in the 3A 800 run, sixth in the 400 and Carlo Ruggiero placed fifth in the 800 … Central’s Ezekial Sousou was third in the 3A discus, Grace Schenk finished sixth in the javelin and Christaysha McDowell was sixth in the high jump … Emily Riehl of South Kitsap finished sixth in the 4A high jump and Audrey Green was eighth, Paxton Depoe was fourth in the 800 and Evelyn Collins-Winn was eighth. The Wolves boys’ 4×400 relay finished third and the girls 4×400 relay finished eighth … Chris Ramsey of North Mason placed seventh in the 2A long jump.

Bainbridge's Marco Ruggiero, right, smiles on the podium after receiving his fifth-place medal in the 3A 800-meter race at the 4A/3A/2A state track and field championships Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

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Bainbridge's Marco Ruggiero, right, smiles on the podium after receiving his fifth-place medal in the 3A 800-meter race at the 4A/3A/2A state track and field championships Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)


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