Vikings\' Bywater blazes to 3,200 title

Vikings\' Bywater blazes to 3,200 title
The Lake Stevens sophomore proves his victories over Arizona State-bound Jeff Helmer are no fluke.

PASCO Joey Bywater has come on so quickly as a top distance runner, even he wondered if it was a fluke. And why not? Bywater just started running competitively a year ago, and already he was turning heads. The high point came last week, when the Lake Stevens sophomore passed defending Class 4A state champion Jeff Helmer of Everett on the final lap to win the 3,200-meter district title in meet-record time.

At least, that was the high point until Friday.

In a stunning display, Bywater blew by Helmer just before the final lap and ran the final 400 meters in a scorching 62 seconds to win his first 3,200-meter state championship at Edgar Brown Stadium in a time of 9 minutes, 3.97 seconds. The time was almost eight seconds faster than Helmer won the state title with last year. Helmer, the Arizona State-bound runner who transferred to Everett from Jackson earlier this year, ended up fourth in 9:07.82.

\"So many things were in the back of my mind,\" Bywater said. \"Even after I beat him (last week), I didn\'t know if it was a fluke. I didn\'t know if I could do it again. ...I guess it wasn\'t a fluke.\"

Apparently not. It was a testament to Bywater that he won despite not exactly running the race he wanted. He said he passed Helmer earlier than he anticipated and didn\'t know if he would have the kick to finish the race off.

\"I planned on passing him (on the last lap),\" Bywater said. \"But something told me to go for it. I didn\'t know if I had enough kick left, but as soon as I passed him, I had an adrenaline burst.\"

Helmer set a fast pace from the start, with Bywater on his tail from the very beginning. By the fifth lap, Helmer and Bywater led a foursome that also included Kentwood\'s Michael Chinchar and Skyline\'s Matt Frerker as they started to pull away. But as they ran down the last stretch of the seventh lap, Bywater went by Helmer and continued to open up his lead.

\"After districts, I knew he was really talented,\" Helmer said. \"I had a strategy. I knew most likely I would have to lead and I did all I could do. I pushed everybody to really fast times. There just wasn\'t much more I could do.\"

Bywater said that, although it was his first state meet, he felt calm. At least, that is, until his race was about to start. Then the butterflies set in.

\"I\'ve never felt nervous before a race,\" he said. \"But right before we started warming up, I thought, \'Holy crap, this is the state meet.\' But I guess I had nothing to lose.\"

In fact, Bywater said he read that Helmer wondered after the district meet how Bywater would do in a state-championship situation. Bywater said he felt he had something to prove to Helmer, but it was clear as the duo ran together to the awards stand that this is anything but an ugly rivalry, and that was made even more clear as Helmer patted Bywater on the shoulder and offered some advice to the new state champion before they stepped on the awards podium.

\"He just told me that he had looked up to me, and that felt good,\" Helmer said. \"I told him that once you\'re on top, you don\'t really realize how hard it is. The next two years for him is going to be hard. When you\'re on top, there\'s always people who are trying to bring you down, so I just told him to know who his friends are and remember what it was that got him to where he is.\"

By Mike Allende

The pair will have one more shot at each other in today\'s 1,600-meter final. At districts last week, Helmer finished just ahead of Bywater. Helmer finished fourth in the race at state last year.

Lake Stevens senior Ben Elder matched his state finish from a year ago by coming in fifth in the discus. Elder scratched on his three throws in the final but a toss of 154 feet in the prelims was enough to earn him a medal. Snohomish County claimed one other fifth-place finish in a final Friday, as Marysville-Pilchuck senior Chance Keyes finished in that spot in the pole vault. Kamiak junior Sean Beighton was just behind Keyes in sixth. Cascade senior Miguel Pierre finished sixth in the long jump.

In qualifying for today\'s finals, Cascade senior Austin Curran posted the fifth-fastest time in the 100 to advance to today\'s finals. Lake Stevens junior Ashtin Mott qualified seventh in the 100 and eighth in the 200. Monroe senior Avery Sligh qualified sixth in the 200. In the 800, Mountlake Terrace sophomore Matt Beeninga qualified sixth and Snohomish sophomore Chris Goodman qualified eighth. Stanwood sophomore Isaac Teichgrab had the sixth-fastest 400 qualifying time. Snohomish senior Nick Mundell qualified eighth in the 300 hurdles. The Cascade 400 relay team qualified fourth and the Everett, Lake Stevens and Stanwood 1,600 relay teams also qualified.

It was quite a first day for the Shorecrest boys in the 3A meet, particularly in qualifying. Senior Ikenna Acholonu had the fastest time in the 110-meter hurdles, clocking a 14.82, well ahead of the next-fastest time, a 15.02 by Cheney\'s Tyreil Poosri. Junior Kevin Ramos qualified second in the 100 and the Scots\' 400 and 1,600 relay teams qualified first. Senior Derek Clemmons finished seventh in the long jump final and qualified third in the 300 hurdles.

2A boys: At Cheney, King\'s Michael Davis set a meet record of 199-3 in winning the javelin for the second straight year.

Archbishop Murphy\'s Nick Sadowski placed fourth in the triple jump at 42-3.5. King\'s Tony Yakovich just missed medaling, finishing ninth at 40-6.25.

King\'s Jonathan Blauert was 16th in the high jump at 5-6.

James Ervin of Lakewood qualified for the final in the 800 with a time of 2:00.98, .01 behind top qualifier James Vela of Grandview. Teammate Terrence Ordonez also qualified in 2:03.95.

Nick Snyder of Archbishop Murphy qualified for the final in the 110 hurdles in 15.66, .01 behind top qualifier Holden Leavitt of Kiona-Benton.

Several Cascade Conference athletes failed to qualify for the finals in their events, including: Matthew Hulse of Sultan and Stan Smith of Archbishop Murphy in the 100, Snyder in the 200, Bryan Ayers and Josh Fuller of King\'s in the 400 and Taylor Metsker of Archbishop Murphy in the 110 hurdles.

The Lakewood 400 relay team also failed to qualify for the final as did the King\'s 1,600 relay team.

1A boys: At Cheney, Coupeville\'s Jon Chittim posted the top times in qualifying for the finals in the 200 (23.15) and 400 (50.60) and he went on to win the 400 in 49.93. His time of 11.73 was third best in qualifying for the 100 final.

Coupeville athletes who failed to qualify for the finals in their events included: Chris Hutchinson in the 100, Jacob Weaver and Gary Manker in the 110 hurdles, Keaton Farris in the 200 and the 400 relay team.

B boys: At Cheney, Shoreline Christian\'s Peter Zerkel finished 16th in the shot put. The Grace Academy 400 relay team failed to advance to the final.

CLASS 2A

Shot put - 1, James Durkee, Woodland, 51-3 1/2.

Javelin - 1, Michael Davis, King\'s, 199-3 (meet record; old record 191-5, Michael Davis, Kings, 2005).

Triple jump - 1, Ken Zellar, Forks, 43-1 1/2.

High jump - 1, Jake Vetter, Montesano, 6-03.

400-meter dash - 1, Vidal Hurtado, Cashmere, 50.81.

Team points - Cashmere 21, Kings 19, Woodland 16, Montesano 16, Lakeside 16, Ephrata 13, Meridian 12, Lakewood 10, Medical Lake 10, Forks 10, Colville 8 , Hockinson 8, Port Townsend 8, Elma 7, Kiona-Benton 7, Grandview 6 , Hoquiam 6, Foster 6, Nooksack Valley 5 , Steilacoom 5, Archbishop Murphy 5, Chimacum 4, Othello 3, Ridgefield 3, Deer Park 3, Connell 2 , Lynden Christian 1, Riverside 1, Pullman 1.

CLASS 1A

Triple jump - 1, Andrew Teng, Bellevue Christian, 43-06.

Discus - 1, Andrew Wilkerson, Freeman, 158-3.

Pole vault - 1, Michael Goold, Rainier, 13-3.

400 - 1, Jon Chittim, Coupeville, 49.93.

Team points - Charles Wright 20, Coupeville 18, Goldendale 18, Brewster 14, Lake Roosevelt 13, Zillah 12, Bellevue Christian 12, Freeman 12, Concrete 12, Seattle Academy 11, Rainier 10, Tonasket 8, Royal 6, Cedar Park Christian 5, Colfax 5, Seattle Christian 5, Ocosta 5, LaConner 4, Newport 2, Kalama 2, Columbia-Burbank 1.

CLASS B

Shot put - 1, Grant Miller, Vancouver Christian, 49-8 1/2.

High jump - 1, Joel Svinth, Willapa Valley, 6-2.

Long jump - 1, Joe Pettit, Willapa Valley, 21-1 1/4.

Pole vault - 1, Efrain Sanchez, Toutle Lake, 12-9.

400 - 1, Jeff Gudaitis, Tacoma Baptist, 48.90.

Team points - Willapa Valley 33, Tacoma Baptist 20, Toutle Lake 15, Riverside Christian 13, Odessa 12, Tekoa-Oakesdale/Rosalia 11, Raymond 11, Mount Vernon Christian 10 1/3, Vancouver Christian 10, Morton 9, Pe Ell 8 1/3, Klickitat 8, La Salle 8, Bridgeport 8, Trout Lake-Glenwood 7 , DeSales 5 , Northwest Christian (Olympia) 5 1/3, Shoreline Christian 5, Soap Lake 4, Reardan 4, Northwest Christian (Spokane) 4, Lyle 4, North Beach 4, Lummi 3, Asotin 2, Pomeroy 2, Jubilee Academy 2, South Bend 2, Valley Christian 1, Cedar Park Christian North 1, LaCrosse-Washtucna 1.

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