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Track and field: St. George's, Valley Christian bring state championships back to Spokane

Jun. 8—Spokane's big schools and big-school athletes weren't the only ones who brought home gold from state track and field championships.

The St. George's boys and girls captured State 2B championships coupled with much individual success, and the Valley Christian boys did the same at Zaepfel Stadium in Yakima.

It was the second straight title for the St. George's boys and third straight and fifth overall for the girls. It was the third state title overall for Valley Christian.

For the St. George's boys, junior Shawn Jones led the way with four individual titles. He captured first in the 400 and 800 meters and anchored the winning 4x100 and 4x400 relays. He set the state-meet record in the 800.

"All the credit goes to the coaches," said Jones, who was the league most valuable player and scored his 1,000th career point in basketball last winter. A three-sport athlete, he plays soccer in the fall.

"They work us hard in practice and hard work pays off," Jones said.

Jones won state titles as a sophomore in the 400 and 800 and helped the 4x400 to second.

Of the three sports he does, there's no question which he loves the most.

"Track," Jones said. "The community in track is more significant. People don't cheer for somebody's success more than in track."

He will pursue track in college.

All of the Dragons' points came on the track.

"The goal all along was to win the team title," St. George's coach TJ Moulton said.

Junior Brayden Bayless, who transferred from Reardan, was a state champ in the 200 and ran on the relays with Jones. Senior Benjamin Morales was runner-up in the 1,600 and 3,200.

Moulton expects his boys to challenge for a state title again next spring.

"We had a couple injuries from kids we thought could contribute and we had a lot of freshmen and sophomores that could come along next year," Moulton said. "We think we'll be in a good spot."

The St. George's girls continued their dominance at state.

Junior Josie McLaughlin captured three state titles in the 800, 1,600 and the winning 4x400. Sophomore Regan Thomas won the 3,200 and assisted McLaughlin on the relay, and junior Kaylee Clark won the triple jump.

It's the third year in a row that McLaughlin has won three state titles in a season.

She couldn't put her long-distance skills to the test last fall in cross country because she had a hip fracture. She won state two years ago.

McLaughlin thought her lack of a running base might slow her down this spring, but she persevered.

"It's definitely a huge personal accomplishment and makes me feel validated," McLaughlin said. "My efforts were for something big. I made it happen through hard work and dedication to the sport."

McLaughlin could add a fourth event, but Moulton wants to keep the work load down.

"She always has a lot on her plate, so we try to keep the load as light as we can," Moulton said.

The St. George's girls graduate just one athlete who scored points at state.

"Everybody else is back and we should be the favorite again," Moulton said. "Dynamics always change year to year. Davenport made things interesting this year. They'll be in the mix."

Sophomore Glenna Soliday led Davenport with state titles in the 100 and 300 hurdles.

Valley Christian's boys nearly lapped the field, finishing with 101 points. The runner-up had 56.

Junior Westin Madden, in his first year in track, won state titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 and helped the 4x400 relay to second.

Madden set a state-meet record in the 1,600.

Junior Joseph Steinbach won the shot put with a state meet record (50 feet, 5 3/4 inches) and was second in the discus. Sophomore Harrison Arnold was second in the high jump and triple jump.

"We kind of had an idea based on the cross country season that we could do well," Valley Christian coach Caleb Malen said. "As we went through the season, it became obvious it was likely."

It was Madden's first track season.

"He ran what we call the gauntlet — all the distance races," Malen said.

Madden, who has never competed in cross country, will do so this fall.

"It's kind of crazy. You take out the 32 points that Westin scored and we still would have won state," Malen said. "It was a combination of everybody. We return most of the points next year."

Madden was surprised by his success, especially considering he hadn't built up a running base going into the season.

"My favorite is the mile," he said.

Madden was grateful to be part of Valley Christian's success.

"It meant everything," he said. "It was a great environment at Valley Christian. I loved being with the guys. We all contributed."