TACOMA - The Sunnyside High School track team had an athlete place at State for the first time in nearly a decade during the State 3A track meet held this past weekend at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
Kennedy Sarmiento accounted for the Sunnyside medal and the Grizzlies' only point in the boys competition.
Sarmiento was eighth in the 300 hurdles in 41.75 to earn a medal in the event. He finished just below Joseph Collett of Hanford in seventh place, who ran a 40.66. Rashaun Johnson of Foster High School won the event in 38.20.
"That's our first medal in eight years, it's kind of a cool thing to have a placer and get some points on the board," said Sunnyside Coach Darren Mezger.
Sarmiento came into the 300 hurdles as Regional champ, just ahead of Collett.
Mezger said Sarmiento very nearly didn't place in the 300 hurdles.
"His trailing foot hit the second hurdle pretty hard and he almost fell," Mezger said of the near disqualification. "He gutted through it and competed hard."
Sarmiento nearly qualified for the State finals in the 110 hurdles, but finished the preliminary round in ninth place, just one spot back of the eight finalists.
Sarmiento ran a 15.43 in his 110 preliminary, but was nipped by less than a tenth of a second by Evan Curry of Renton, who advanced to the finals with a time of 15.34.
The other Sunnyside boy to qualify for the State meet was Elias Medrano, the Regional champ in the 400 meters. Medrano's bid for a State medal in the event came up just short as he, too, finished the preliminaries in ninth place in a time of 51.36.
Medrano was edged out of the eighth and last finals spot by a nose as Christopher Stokes of Franklin Pierce crossed the preliminary finish line with the same recorded time of 51.36.
Actually it was less than a nose, according to Mezger.
"They (race officials) had to break it down to the thousands of a second and Elias lost by five thousandths of a second," he said. "He missed it just by a nose hair."
Medrano and Sarmiento are both seniors, and Mezger sees more track achievements in their future.
"They're both going to be running track at Spokane Falls (community college) and I know they're going on to some bigger and better things."
The only Lady Grizzly to compete at State was Kendra Meeker. Competing in the discus, Meeker advanced to the final round and just finished out of a medal by earning 10th place honors out of 16 competitors.
Meeker, a Regional runner-up in the event, recorded a throw of 99-11. She was topped by Jamila Culcleasure of Highline in ninth place (104-6) and State finalist Chandler Mason of Peninsula in eighth place (110-1) The event was won by Anna Adamko of Columbia River with a toss of 126-11.
"Kendra competed well," said Mezger. "She's come a long way this year. Nobody would have picked her to go to State two months ago and for her to finish in the top 10 at State is amazing."
The Sunnyside boys finished in a tie for 44th place in team scoring with one point. North Central won the boys State title with 55 points.
The Lady Grizzlies did not place in the girls 3A State meet, which was won by Columbia River and Glacier Peak in a tie for top honors with 49 points each.
West Valley of Yakima gave the CBL its best showing with fourth place honors as a team, scoring 42 points.
Mezger praised his team's overall effort in difficult conditions. "The weather was horrible, conditions were nasty," he said. "There was a wind chill of 48 degrees and rain."
Meeker is also a senior, which means Sunnyside will have to look to others to sustain the momentum from this year's campaign.
Mezger says he knows of at least two Grizzlies with a chance to make it two years in a row to State.
"Marisa Broersma is a sophomore and she's ranked third in the region in the 400," Mezger said. "Eric Amaro broke the (SHS) freshman record in the 300 hurdles and javelin. He's ranked fourth in the region in the javelin and two of the people ahead of him are graduating."