Jenkins, Griffey snag Star Track titles


Special to the Mirror

PASCO — Kyle Jenkins had always made history when he stepped into Edgar Brown Stadium.

A year ago, the Jefferson triple jumper had broken the Class 4A state meet record in winning his first state title, leaping 49 feet, 8 1/2 inches.

Then, in mid-April, he jumped a state-record 50 feet, 2 inches, the fifth-best mark in the nation, at the Pasco Invitational.

So while Jenkins was able to successfully defend his state triple jump title Saturday at the Star Track XXII state championships, his winning mark — a wind-aided 49-9 1/4 — was just a bit of a letdown.

“I am excited, but I was shooting for that 50,” said Jenkins, whose stated goal coming into the meet actually was a 51-foot jump. “I know I got it before. I wanted to get it at state. Oh well, I’ve got four more years to improve.”

Those four years will be spent at Indiana University, where he’ll be behind the nation’s No. 2 collegiate triple jumper, Aarik Wilson.

Jenkins’ title was one of two won by Federal Way athletes over the weekend. Decatur sophomore Princess Joy Griffey won the 4A girls 100 meters in 12.04 seconds, just off the 11.98 with which she qualified but quite impressive considering the headwind all the athletes faced on the Edgar Brown homestretch.

“I didn’t expect it,” Griffey said. “I knew all the senior girls were fast. This is cool.”

In all, nine Federal Way athletes and three relay teams brought home medals for placing in the top eight at state, including three who placed in multiple events — Jenkins in the long and triple jumps; and Griffey and teammate Danitra Powell in the 100 and 200.

Jenkins started the meet Friday with a second-place finish to defending champion Norris Frederick of Roosevelt in the long jump, going a season-best 23-9 1/2. The two friends from a summer track program called C-Town Express then exchanged a friendly war of words, with Frederick boasting how he would upset Jenkins in the triple jump, and Jenkins knowingly smiling and saying, “That’s Norris. We’re good friends, but he’s a bigger talker.”

Then Jenkins competed in the 400, which he called his “bonus event,” and failed to qualify for Saturday’s finals, finishing seventh in his heat in 51.45. “I really just picked it up this year, and I didn’t expect to make it this far, so I’m pretty content,” he said.

Finally came Saturday and the anticipated showdown between Jenkins and Frederick, along with the crowd revved up for a shot at history.

Jenkins had two good jumps in the preliminary round, including his winning jump in the third round that had just barely over the legal amount of wind, thus nullifying it as a possible record. Frederick also posted a good jump, a 48-7 1/4, but he bowed out of the competition after taking one jump in the finals in order to focus on the high jump, in which he also was the defending champion — he won with a jump of 6-11 and barely missed on a state-record attempt at 7-1 1/4.

Jenkins took two jumps in the finals, neither coming close to his winning jump, before calling it a day — and a career.

“I got half of my perfect ending,” he said.

Griffey likely could say the same thing. She won her first state title in dominating fashion in the 100, coming back from what she called “an OK start” to pass defending champion LaShawnda Porter of Kent-Meridian and Teri Cheatham of Curtis at about the 30-meter mark, then putting her head down to buck the wind and win by more than two-tenths of a second.

The 200 was a different story. Griffey was looking forward to another race with Porter, the defending champion who beat her in the West Central District final last weekend, but in the end both were upset by Becca Noble, the Rogers (Spokane) junior who roared past both of them to win in 25.12.

Griffey did get a measure of revenge over Porter, beating her WCD rival to finish second in 25.39.

“I’ve enjoyed it. That was fun,” Griffey said. “(Losing to Noble) just gives me something for next year.”

Powell finished sixth in both the 100 (12.41) and 200 (25.88), and she and Griffey combined on Decatur’s 4x100 relay that placed third in 49.41 and on its 4x200 that placed fifth in 1:45.54.

The top Federal Way placer for the weekend came in the last boys race of the meet, as the Eagles’ 4x400 finished second to Ballard — which featured the top two finishers in the open 400 — and gained a measure of revenge in the process.

Federal Way’s quartet of Matt Clark, C.J. Green, Taylor Edwards and Greg Warren had lost to Shelton at last week’s district meet, but it turned the tables on Shelton in the state final, finishing in 3:23.41 to Shelton’s 3:23.49, with Warren holding off 800-meter champion Alex McClary at the finish line.

“He caught me at districts with 100 meters to go, and when I heard him coming up on me (today), I was just hoping to hold him off,” Warren said. “To come back here and get second is a great feeling.”

Warren then dedicated their showing to retiring sprints coach Tom Eilertson.

“I’ve been with him six years, two in middle school and four in high school,” Warren said. “This is extra special to both of us.”

Federal Way senior Erin Fitzpatrick reprised her third-place finish in the 100 high hurdles, this year running Saturday’s final in 15.29 after winning her preliminary heat in 15.63 on Friday.

“It’s been quite a ride,” said Fitzpatrick, who’ll run at the University of British Columbia next year. “It’s been fun. I’m sad that it’s over.”

Teammate Aimee Hafen, a junior, improved upon her 2003 showing in the pole vault, moving up one spot on the medals podium to fourth by clearing a personal-best 11 feet on her third attempt.

“I was praying so hard. I just really wanted to make it,” Hafen said. “The whole season, I’d been having a hard time, not hitting heights, but the last two meets, I did well, so I’m super pumped.”

Decatur senior Lance Witherspoon had the opposite reaction to his sixth-place finish in the discus.

“I was hoping to get a personal record, and I didn’t even get 150,” said Witherspoon, who threw only 149-4 with a nasty tailwind affecting all the competitors. Inglemoor’s Nate Rolfe, who’d thrown 206 feet this year, managed only 190 in winning the title.

“I had a sore ankle from stitches I got earlier in the season,” added Witherspoon, who’ll attend Eastern Washington and try to walk on to the track team. “On one of my first throws, I hurt it again, so this was not what I was hoping for.”

Other placers were Federal Way seniors Eli Harry in the boys pole vault (eighth, 13-6) and Shelby Avaava in the girls discus (seventh, 116-0).

Area qualifiers who didn’t place at state were Jefferson senior Coury McGinnis in the 100 (sixth in his prelim heat, 11.46) and 200 (sixth, 23.28); Clark in the 100 (seventh, 11.68); Federal Way junior Brad Johnson in the 300 hurdles (eighth, 41.40); Jefferson senior Pat Kennar in the discus (15th, 136-0); Decatur senior Nick Isaac in the long jump (no distance); and Federal Way’s 4x200 relay (seventh, 1:46.87).

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