RICHLAND - The Sunnyside Grizzly boys track and field team enjoyed a one-two finish in the javelin to finish eighth in the team standings during the CBBN/GSL Regional track meet last Friday and Saturday.
Sunnyside ended Regionals with 38 points. Hanford earned top team honors with 92 points.
"It was a roller coaster," said SHS track coach Darren Mezger. "We went from having one of the worst days to having one of the best."
Mezger noted on Friday the Grizzlies fell short in several events. "We had a couple of mishaps, we just didn't compete well on Friday. But man, on Saturday, we competed better than expected and four kids qualified to State."
He says the turnaround started with Elijah Pena in the finals of the 110 hurdles. Running a personal best time of 15.67, the sophomore claimed third place honors and the final State berth in that event.
"It started with Elijah's race," Mezger said. "He just really prepared for it and ran his best race of the year at the right time. He looked great and it's pretty impressive to qualify for State as a sophomore. He really turned it on at the end of the season."
Pena's time was just fast enough to outpace Eastmont's Collin Doneen, who placed fourth and missed out advancing to State with his clocking of 15.94. The top three placers in each Regional event advance to State this coming weekend in Tacoma.
The Grizzlies then went on a roll, as Eric Amaro and Miguel Guzman were first and second in the javelin for Sunnyside. Amaro secured the Regional title with a throw of 167-5. Close behind in second place was Guzman with a throw of 164-10.
It marks the second consecutive year for Amaro and Guzman to advance to State in the javelin.
The other Grizzly to punch his ticket to State on Saturday was Eduardo Salmeron by earning runner-up honors in the triple jump with a leap of 42-8.25. The junior was bested only by Mt. Spokane's Shane Concepcion at 43-1.75.
Mezger says Salmeron, Amaro and Guzman all have excellent chances of a top-eight finish at State and a spot on the medals podium.
Pena has a chance, too, the coach adds.
"Elijah's going to have to PR, but if he runs his best race of the year he could get there, too," says Mezger. "They all have a shot."