‘I knew I was at least second’ — photo finish highlights 3A state hurdles final

When Andrew Bell looked to his left as he leapt the final hurdle on Friday evening at Mount Tahoma High, he saw the shoulder of Kennewick’s Jackson Burns right next to his. Out of the side of his eye, there was nobody on the right.

“I knew I was at least second,” the Spanaway Lake senior said.

Bell and Burns hit the track after that last hurdle of the WIAA 3A state 110 meters hurdles championship race together, took the final strides to the finish line together, and both leaned over the line.

When the scoreboard posted the times, it had come down to two one-hundreths of a second. Bell ran 14.58 seconds. Burns came in at 14.60. And the Sentinels had a high hurdles champion for the first time since 1995, when Mike Dwyer won the 3A event in 14.66 seconds.

“I never knew,” Bell said. “I could see Lane 3 (Burns) in my peripheral and no one on my right. So I got to push and dig in hard. So over the last hurdle it was really a big guess who had the best lean to win.”

Bell was very aware it had been a long time since a Spanaway Lake competitor had won the hurdles. He didn’t know it was only a year short of three decades.

“I think I am the first person to win it in like 20 years,” Bell said.

Dwyer’s championship came just 10 years after Spanaway Lake was built. In his four years at the school, Bell hasn’t had a lot of other hurdlers to push him, he said.

“I had another hurdler as a freshman,” Bell said. “I have a great team that pushes me, but haven’t had a hurdler pretty much mu entire career. I’m just really fortunate I have great coaches to help me push myself further.”

In the 2A long jump, Marvis Christian erased an even longer drought for his Franklin Pierce Cardinals. Christian jumped 22 feet, three inches to beat Sehome’s Maxton Rush, who leapt 22-1¼.

Christian was the top seed coming into the state meet in the long jump, just ahead of South Puget Sound League rival Eli Peters from Clover Park. But the second-seeded Peters failed to make the finals, finishing 10th overall, and wasn’t there at the end to really push his Tacoma-area competition.

“Eli was my competition,” Christian said. “He pushes me.”

Christian actually didn’t take the lead in the long jump until his second to last jump. Until that time, his first leap – 21-1 – had him sitting in third place. He fouled on both of his remaining preliminary jumps but his first got him the three jumps in the finals.

“Usually my first jump I just kind of clear the whole meet,” Christian said. “But this one was definitely a challenge. Just my mind. I’m grateful. Just glad I made it here.”

Christian became the first Cardinal to win the long jump since 1977, when Franklin Pierce was still a 3A school, and Bill Fogelman won the event with a jump of 21-11 at Lincoln Bowl – back when the meet was known as Star Track.

“It’s been a lot of conditioning (to get here),” Christian said. “A lot of hard days.”

In 2A, Lucas Hoff won the pole vault with a jump of 14-9. Two other local area competitors took home third-place medals.

Timberline’s Carmelo Roper, one of the top competitors in the 3A triple jump, went 45-0½ for his third. Foss’s Terren Harges ran 15.65 in the 2A high hurdles, just over a quarter of a second slower than his prelim time of 15.39 from Thursday, to place third in that race.