PASCO -- Victory was within reach for Mietra Smollack. She refused to let it slip away.
Smollack held off a late challenge from a persistent pursuer and won the Class 4A girls 1,600-meter run Saturday during the 3A/4A state track and field championships at Edgar Brown Stadium.
Smollack, a senior from Oak Harbor High School, withstood a push from Mead freshman Baylee Mires and won in a personal-record time of 4 minutes, 56.44 seconds. Mires crossed second in 4:57.1.
Smollack, ranked fourth in the event entering the meet according to Athletic.net, prevented Mires from making a pass in the final 100 meters.
"I could see her," said Smollack, who will run for Washington State University, "so I kind of scooted over because I didn't want her passing me, and I had worked so hard. I just wanted to get there."
Later, Smollack placed second in the 800. Her 1,600 triumph was a surprise, at least to Smollack.
"My coach (Eric Peterson, who works with Oak Harbor distance runners) kept on telling me he knew I could do it," Smollack said, "but I didn't really think that."
The reason: Even though Smollack has had success in track, she didn't start running the 1,600 until last season. Many girls she competed against have been doing the event for at least two more years.
"Those girls have been running for a long time," Smollack said, "and I just came into this a few years ago."
She's been a quick study.