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Looking back at some of the more incredible track and field records from around the region

By Dave Trimmer For The Spokesman-Review

From Gerry Lindgren seeming to float over long distances to the power of Becca Noble blasting down the stretch, Rogers High School has two of the most iconic track and field record holders of any high school, let alone the Greater Spokane League.

From Lindgren’s way-back distance dominance to Noble’s recent big sprint wins, the two highlight the tradition-rich GSL.

Lindgren 1964 times in the mile and 2-mile, converted to today’s races in meters, are 4 minutes, 0.1 seconds for 1,600 and 8:53.6 for 3,200. Both remain state records.

Noble has the Pirates’ records for the 100 (11.8 seconds), 200 (24.62), 400 (53.3) and 800 (2:03.73). The 800, once a state record, and 400 are both second on the state all-time lists.

Although Brent Palmer has been the Rogers head coach for just three years, it was easy for him to pick out his favorite school records. Palmer didn’t need to witness the records, because track fans and especially coaches like to play the “remember when” game. In the GSL, it’s a subject with a lot of depth, as we discovered when we asked all of the league coaches to pick their favorite record.

There is the speed of Anthony Buchanan and height of pole vaulter Tyson Byers for University, and the Annettes from Central Valley, Olympic distance runner Annette Hand and hurdler Annette Helling.

Buchanan’s U-Hi records are 10.1 seconds in the 100 and 20.7 in the 200. Byers cleared 17-1 in the pole vault. All marks were No. 2 in state history at the time.

Hand set the distance records (4:48.2 in the 1,600 and 10:22.51 in the 3,200) in 1982. Teammate Helling did the same in the hurdles (13.9 in 1981 when the 100 hurdles were 3 inches shorter and 42.9 in the 300 in 1982).

Lindgren isn’t the only blast from the past. CV’s Dan Vickrey and Shadle Park’s Rich Mesmer set marks in the 110 hurdles (14.1) and the 800 (1:52.7) in 1979 and 1966, respectively.

If you think those records are old, the 200 record at Lewis and Clark is a 21.1 by Paul Swift set in 1921, when the distance was 220 yards.

“The record is amazing given when, where and under the conditions it was run in,” LC coach Michael Johnston said.

That’s something longtime CV coach Chuck Bowden noted.

“In this day of FAT (fully automatic timing), it’s easy to knock the old hand-held times,” he said. “But they ran on cinder tracks with blocks that were a joke in shoes that are nothing like specialty variety of today, and without any of the modern training opportunities.”

Mesmer has stood the test of time. Nathan Clayton, the 24-year-old head coach at Shadle Park, is amazed that it is still the best time by a GSL runner by more than a second.

“From speaking with people who knew Rich during this time, they say he was a freak of nature when it came to running,” Clayton said. “Rich Mesmer will go down as one of the best, if not the best, middle-distance runners in GSL history.”

Gonzaga Prep girls coach Chad Chambers pointed to three school records from last year, all set by underclassmen who missed a chance to build on those because of a season lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Junior K.K. Horn threw the javelin 147-7, junior Regan Crain cleared 12 feet in the pole vault and freshman Emma Van Gemert bounded 37- 1/4 in the triple jump.

Although we wanted coaches to name just one record, several mentioned more than one athlete, so we made the final cut for them unless there was a compelling reason not to. (Quotes are from the coaches.)

Boys

Central Valley (Bowden): In addition to Vickrey, Bowden tipped his hat to Craig Kent, who set the shot put (62-4 3/4) and discus (185-9) records in 2003 and joined G-Prep’s Justin Strand as the only GSL boys to win the shot put and discus in the same year.

Ferris (coach James Fisher): Fisher, who participated for the Saxons, spent eight seasons as an assistant coach and is stepping down this season after 28 years as the third head coach in school history. He said the most impressive record belonged to his head coach, Herm Caviness. The reason, he said, is because there are so many records that dated back to the early days of the traditionally competitive program. “When coach Caviness was there, they were running faster and jumping farther. And throwing. When I was there, I saw a lot of that happen. … There is so much history at Ferris (and) coach Caviness was a mentor to me (and) so was coach (Pat) Pfeifer, who asked me to coach with him.”

Gonzaga Prep (coach Matt Blaine): Nick Johnson broke both hurdle records in 2016, going 13.94 in the 110s and 38.48 in the 300s. “Only now do I fully appreciate how special all of Nick’s record-breaking races were. At the time, it was just who Nick was; he also wanted to know what the team score was. He ran the 38.48 at Mooberry. He was running 39s and 40s and I’m pretty sure he did it only to beat my school record of 39.4, and he humbly enjoyed it.”

Lewis and Clark (Johnston): Can Swift’s record make it to 100 years? “The thing that makes this one interesting is that we have an athlete (freshman) who will get close to breaking this record by the time he graduates.”

Mead (coach John Mires): Chris Lewis, 4:04.6 in the 1,600 meters in 1989. “Under the lights in the rain at Lincoln Bowl (in Tacoma), one of my favorite meet experiences. His goal was sub-4, but nobody would go with him.”

Mt. Spokane (coach Pat Kostecka): High jumper Casey Clark clearing 7- 1/2 in 1999 and John Dressel running 8:54.9 in the 3,200 in 2015. “Pretty darn high, not many 7-footers ever. Pretty darn fast, not many have gone under 9 minutes.” Dressel is No. 4 all time and Clark is one of just 31 7-footers in state history.

North Central (coach Mark Vandine): “Justin Janke runs a 8:55.9 alone and in the wind at state in 2016 and sets the school record. … That’s five sub-9 school records in five different years, six (3,200) records in seven years.”

Rogers (Palmer): Lindgren. Just Google the name and spend hours.

Shadle Park (Clayton): After Mesmer, Clayton was around to see Jakobe Ford high jump 7-3 in 2017, second in state history. “Jakobe was one of those athletes that a coach will only see once in a lifetime. He not only was a multistate champion in high jump, but his senior year (2017) Jakobe was a triple crown state champion winning in high jump, long jump, and triple jump.”

University (coach Ernie Agular): The coach pointed out that Byers’ teammate Brad Walker, second on the school list at 16 feet, went on to win NCAA titles, win a world championship, participate in the Olympics twice and set a U.S. record at 19-9 3/4.

Girls

Central Valley (coach Geoff Arte): Speaking of the Annettes, “Hard to believe they were on the same team.” He also had to toss in a 1975 mark of 138-3 in the discus. “I imagine Vickie Brandon wandering off of some farm along Sullivan in 1976 and throwing the discus … for that to stand for so long when she must have been one of the first girls to throw the implement in school history. I am sure if I asked the right people I could find out more about her, but for now she kind of lives on as a mystery for our kids.”

Ferris (coach Katie LeFriec): High jumper Kelly McNamee cleared 5-10 in 2007. “Our record was 24 years old when it was not broken but crushed.”

Gonzaga Prep (Chambers): Only two throwers surpassed Horn’s 147-7, that being G-Prep’s Mylssa Coleman, who went 147-11 to win a state title in 1980, and Mead’s Allison Beatty, who was a state champion in 1995 and 1996 and threw 152-7. Both of those were with the “old” javelin. In 2002, Washington high schools switched to the international javelin introduced in 1999, which weighed the same but has a shorter flight distance.

Lewis and Clark (Johnston): “There are so many great girls records at LC. I would say the Dory Reeves’ (1989) mark in discus (166-11) probably won’t be touched anytime soon. The second-best throw all time at LC is 144. In the last 10 years, the closest throw in the league is 133-11.” Reeves’ one-time state record is still No. 5 on the list.

Mead (coach Dori Whitford): “All but four of the 18 records have been set since I have been there. Each one is set by a very special kid, each one has a great story. However, I think I will pick the (2007) 1,600 relay.” Alexa Banaugh, Jazmine Redmon, Taylor Cook and Nikki Codd set their record of 3:51.93 in a loss to Shadle Park, which set its school record of 3:51.70, the best in GSL history in that regional meet. The Panthers won state the next weekend.

Mt. Spokane (coach Annette Helling): Another relay, the 2014 800-meter quartet of Katie Nilsson, Cierra Bland, Cheyenne Konrad and Ashlee Pedersen (the coach’s daughter) that went 1:42.25 to win state. “These were the Kamiakin years, where they won state the three previous years and the two after that. Mt. Spokane was the underdog but ran flawlessly.”

North Central (Coach Kelly Harmon): Harmon didn’t have to look far. Sophomore Allie Janke set the school records in the 1,600 (4:41.27) and 3,200 (10:10.83) last year and won state championships in both. Her times are fifth and fourth in state history.

Rogers (Palmer): Palmer deferred to Whitford for Noble’s anchor in what the school calls “The Race.” “The time she hunted down the (standout anchor runners) in the 4 x 400 at state was absolutely epic. I was sitting high (in the stands) next to some West Siders. They were talking about how they heard Becca was pretty good but no way could she close the 35- to 40-meter gap. And then for the rest of her lap I just listened to them go from ‘No way’ to (a continuous) ‘Oh, my God.’ I know it might not be 100% accurate, but I was pretty close on time – I got her split at 52.88.” (I watched the race last weekend and got goosebumps again.)

Shadle Park (Clayton): Catie Schuetzle was the first GSL long jumper to clear 19 feet, going 19-4 3/4 in 2005 after winning the state title in 2004. Clayton also noted only four GSL girls (Shadle’s Judy Potter in 1970, East Valley’s Eleaya Schuerch in 2006 and LC’s Sativa Rogers last year) have won a title in that event.

University (coach Todd Hawley): The Titans have some stellar records, but Hawley is intrigued by the 1976 high jump record of 5-5 set by April Harper and matched by Ranleigh Starling in 1986 just because it has lasted so long.

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