By Bucky Beaver
Ballard High School had eight student-athletes competing in eight events at the Washington state track and field competition this past weekend at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. On the boys side senior Stuart Thomas competed in the boys 110m high hurdles and the 300m hurdles placing 7th and 5th in the finals, respectively. Senior Dominique Smith competed in the 100m dash and the long jump placing 6th in the long jump. Senior Mia Wrey competed in the girls 800m placing 5th in the finals. Junior Carolyn Birkenfeld competed in the 200m dash, just missing qualifying for the finals.
BHS girls winning 4×400 team with their medals. Left to right: Emma Onstad-Hawes, Nicole Godbout, Carolyn Birkenfeld, Mia Wrey, Cat Banobi, and Jamie Smith.
In the last event of the meet, the girls 4x400m relay team consisting of freshman Nicole Godbout, Wrey, senior Cat Banobi, Birkenfeld, senior Emma Onstad-Hawes, and freshman Jamie Smith, won the state competition! This is the first state victory since 2004 and the first girl’s victory since 1998. The relay team broke the school record four times this year. In all, Ballard student-athletes broke school records in the girls 800m (Wrey), 300m hurdles (Thomas), 4×100 relay, and 4×400 relay.
Third year head coach Bob Mirenzi was very excited about his team’s performance this year. He noted that “many kids come to track as a second sport, to stay in shape or get in shape for their first sport. This unique thrill they experience when they start to beat kids and get recognition is often the hook that brings many athletes to see themselves as track and field people.” He was especially proud of Ballard’s state championship relay team. “Relays are great”, said Mirenzi, “they give the athletes the thrills of competition and success on an individual basis and at the same time draw on the team support and critical aspect that everyone needs to do their best.” “It takes advantage of the full palette of skills the kids bring to the table”, he added.
The relay team showed a lot of maturity from the older girls. “This team has three seniors, one junior and two freshman. Both of the freshman girls, Nicole and Jamie, are very great athletes, both were able to experience, perform and excel at a very high level competition while, in a sense, being mentored and protected, by the older girls Cat, Emma, Mia and Carolyn, from the great stress and pressures dumped on them,” Mirenzi pointed out.
Mirenzi hopes to build on this year’s success in track and field. He’s already received calls from incoming 8th grade parents hoping to get their kids involved in the program. The proud Mirenzi concluded, “it’s pretty cool to be able to witness a group of kids realize that they are very good, not by some new thing they were able to develop on the track, but by their ability to understand and employ the great things they bring to the track from the years they have spent on the soccer field, the basketball court, the tennis courts, the football field, the orchestra pit, the jazz ensemble, the chess board.”