TRACK | Wolves one win away from 4A state title

South Kitsap senior LaForrest Church (right) finished third in the 800-meter relay in 1 minute, 56.15 seconds during Saturday’s Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District meet at Kent Meridian High School. - Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo
South Kitsap senior LaForrest Church (right) finished third in the 800-meter relay in 1 minute, 56.15 seconds during Saturday’s Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District meet at Kent Meridian High School.
— image credit: Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo

Through all of the league meets and invitationals, one constant has remained.

South Kitsap placing first in the 1,600-meter boys relay.

One more win Saturday at Star Track XXXI at Mount Tahoma High School will give the Wolves a state championship.

“We need to make sure everybody pushes their body to the limit,” said senior LaForrest Church, who signed to run next season at the University of Memphis. “There’s no second chance. There’s no, ‘I’ll try again next week.’ This is it, do your job and make it work.

“I’m super excited. I’ve been waiting for this all throughout high school. I can’t wait.”

As has been the case throughout the season, South had little difficulty winning the 1,600 relay Saturday during the West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament at Kent Meridian. The team of Adam Gascoyne, Zach Sleigh, Mason Villarma and Church finished in 3 minutes, 23.7 seconds. Todd Beamer placed second in 3:26.05.

With the exception of Dominic Boddie, who now is a freshman at the University of Washington, the Wolves return last year’s 1,600-relay team that finished sixth in 3:24.15. South already has eclipsed that time and Zimmer thinks they can remain successful at state if they heed some simple advice.

“I think it’s just keeping the emotions in check,” he said. “Kind of channeling all of the good energy you get from being excited and nervous and setting it up for the day of the meet rather than wasting it all.”

The Wolves’ boys 400-relay team also advanced to state. Their team of Adam Gascoyne, Bastian Tabacchi, Chris Willett and Terro Bell finished fifth in 43.58 seconds at districts.

“They’re looking to bust the top eight again,” Zimmer said. “They need to be confident.”

On the individual side, Church placed second in both the 400 (48.33) and 800 (1:56.15).

Gascoyne also advanced when he placed seventh in the 400 (51.3).

“He’s going to have to run the race of his life, which he’s very capable of,” Zimmer said.

South’s youngest state qualifier in a boys event was Mason Villarma. The sophomore was fourth in the 1,600 (4:19.27). Zimmer believes Villarma is capable of even more at state.

“He’s learning a lot about racing,” he said. “He went to the edge a little bit and probably didn’t take care of things the way he wanted.”

Junior Marcus Burk was the Wolves’ lone qualifier in a field event on the boys side. He finished third in the discus with a throw of 154 feet, 4 inches. Zimmer projects a top-three finish would require a throw of 170-0, so Burk is “going to have to pop one” to place.

South’s lone state qualifier on the girls team was sophomore Shannon Laupola. She finished eighth in the javelin (105-06).

“As a sophomore, that’s a great experience for her,” Zimmer said. “If she can pop one, she’s probably podium material.”

The Wolves won’t travel far to claim any trophies they earn. While state track was held at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco as recently as five years ago, South’s trip is similar to many it makes for 4A Narrows League meets. That is in contrast to the school’s baseball and fastpitch teams, which travel to Eastern Washington for their state tournaments.

“I think it’s a benefit for us,” Zimmer said. “We can shuttle kids back and forth without leaving so early in the morning.”

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