TACOMA – Mayyi Mahama couldn’t look. She had little reason to be nervous, but she still couldn’t fight off the emotional jitters.
Positioned as the favorite in the State 2A girls discus event, Pullman’s senior star still kept her head down when the athlete competing before her tossed. So teammate Adiel Wenger came in with the assist, shielding Mahama’s eyes for her to keep her from peeking.
The assist helped. Mahama tossed a whopping 147 feet, 7 inches on her final throw of the preliminaries, which would easily carry her to the state title during the discus finals at the track and field championships at Mt. Tahoma High School.
“Honestly, whenever I come into a competition I’m always nervous. My coaches say I have no reason to be nervous but I’m always nervous,” Mahama said. “… If I see a throw, any throw, it can be bad, it could be good, it could be OK, I just psyche myself out a lot. Adi puts her hand in front of my face because she knows I’m going to peak if I do it myself.”
Aptly enough, a family member sat in the stands to the left of the throwing area and yelled, “Too easy!” after every toss. It might have been. Mahama’s tosses of 134-1, 140-7 and 136-3 all would have been good enough to claim the title.
Wenger, wearing a matching “Sick, Nasty” T-shirt, coined last season after tosses self-described in that manner, finished sixth in 114-7.
“We help each other become better,” Mahama said. “Whenever I’m there, she’s my rock when I’m in the finals.”
Despite coming in with the leading seed time in 3A, Allie Janke didn’t expect to join the family legacy of state championships quite yet. The North Central freshman was also nervous about not having teammates on the track during her first state event.
All of that went out the window during the final stretch when Janke turned the final corner and gained the final step on Edmonds-Woodway’s Yukino Parle, edging her past the finish line by a mere 1.01 seconds for a winning time of 4:55.48 in the 1,600. The next-closest finisher came 4 seconds behind.
“I didn’t know how close the girl was. That was a little scary,” Janke said. “But I heard people say, like, ‘Kick it in,’ and she was coming for me. I heard people yelling that, and my legs were already dead, but I just tried with everything I had left to make it across the line first and I was able to hold her off.”
It’s an impeccable, albeit somewhat surprising, start to a high school career for a promising distance runner whose brother, Justin Janke, took his state-winning talents to Washington State.
“I think we were real surprised,” NC coach Kelly Harmon said. “She ran real well. She had great training partners all season long. … She’s been, we had to kind of use kid gloves with her sometimes because she’s a little bit fragile, but she’s super talented and works hard.”
Despite not being on the track with her, teammates were still getting in Janke’s ear before the race, encouraging her and willing her on.
“I definitely was not expecting to win that,” Janke said. “It was a very hard race for me preparing because I’m used to be surrounded by my teammates … Everybody was really excited to watch, but they were comforting me and preparing me for my race, so that really helped. Once the race started, I was pretty confident. I just found my position at the front of the pack and I knew what I needed to do and the times I needed to hit.”
Janke will have another opportunity to parlay with Parle on Saturday in the 3,200. The Edmonds-Woodway foe is the only runner with a better qualifying seed time than Janke.
Lewis and Clark senior Katie Thronson came close to a state title in the girls 1,600, getting edged by 0.80 seconds by Issaquah’s Sami Corman. Thronson’s time of 4:51.56 gave her second place by 1.01 seconds, but she was unable to come up with the homestretch burst to overcome Corman.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.