TRACK | Van Amen captures another title at Shelton Invitational

SHELTON — He might not be weatherproof.

But South Kitsap freshman Nolan Van Amen handled the inclement weather at Saturday’s 54th annual Shelton Invitational better than most.

Van Amen won the discus with a throw of 162 feet and then placed second in the shot put (54-05). Eatonville’s Justin Kaelin won the shot put (57-07 ¼).

“It was a lot like Eason — same conditions and everything,” said Van Amen, referring to the rainy weather at the April 19 meet in Snohomish. “I was lucky enough to do better here and for shot I was surprised to see I was up around my personal record.”

Van Amen said he does not let weather conditions affect his disposition.

“I just try to stay controlled, and even if I have a bad throw, I calm down and collect myself before I end up going in for my next throw,” he said. “When it rains out it’s a mental thing. You kind of have to make sure you have everything together before you go up and throw.”

Van Amen has the top throw in Class 4A in the shot put (55-0 ¾) and is second in the discus (172-7). Union’s Bailey King (175-4) is first in that event.

South co-coach Paul Zimmer credits Van Amen’s experience behind his success against older peers. Last summer, Van Amen competed in the Track City International Classic at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, where he spun the discus 204-11, to set a national age group (13-14) record. Earlier at that event, Van Amen threw the shot put 60-03 to break the previous meet record set in 1995.

“He’s been doing it since he was a very young kid,” Zimmer said. “He’s pretty gifted with his size — that’s a lot of leverage.”

Van Amen’s performance helped the Wolves’ boys team finish third with 53 points behind Todd Beamer (65) and Sehome (57).

That does not mean the team was satisfied, though.

“On the boys side, I think they’re a little disappointed. I think they wanted to come out and win this meet,” said Zimmer, adding that they were curtailed by missing some members with illness and Friday’s bomb threat at the high school that resulted in the cancellation of practice.

The 1,600-meter relay team, which placed first at Eason, fell to third at Shelton in 3 minutes, 31.52 seconds. Beamer won that event (3:29.36), while Central Kitsap finished second (3:30.84). The Wolves struggled in the first two legs of their heat as senior Bastian Tabacchi took the baton in sixth place.

“We didn’t get off all that fast and that kind of hurt us,” said junior Mason Villarma, who is the team’s anchor. “It’s hard to make up that much time for me and Bastian. It was just too much to make up.”

Villarma, who also was disappointed with his fifth-place finish in the 800 (4:27.59), remains confident that the relay team can recapture its success at Eason.

“We’ll get to where we want to be,” he said.

South’s best individual event on the boys side might have been the 110 hurdles. Junior Brayden Maynard (15.3) placed second, while senior Caleb Rodriguez (15.73) was fifth.

The Wolves’ 400 relay (43.76) also finished fourth.

On the girls side, South finished 30th with six points. Sehome won the team title with 68.5 points.

The Wolves’ top performer was junior Alexus Richardson, who finished fourth in the discus (106-01). That was a significant improvement from her performance at Eason (88-0).

Richardson said she sustained a non-track related back injury last year. Richardson said she has gone to physical therapy to help alleviate the pain. She said the time between the team’s last league meet on April 24 has been helpful.

“I just had to relax and focus on my technique,” Richardson said. “I got it up there.”

Zimmer shared similar sentiments about Richardson.

“She was one of the competitors that slowed everything down a bit. I think that helped.”

Zimmer also is hopeful that his team’s experience at Shelton will be beneficial when they return for the May 15-17 Narrows League meet there.

“That’s one of the major reasons we came here this week,” he said. “It could be like this. That could be an advantage to our kids to know what it feels like to be in a rain that’s wet or jump in a pit that’s full of water.”

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