What would an athlete rather accomplish at the high school state track and field championships—winning an individual title or a team title?
Annika Reiss didn’t have to decide. The Bellingham senior closed out her high school career with both.
In fact, Reiss doubled down on the individual state championships, winning the 1600 and 3200 at the Class 2A girls’ state meet at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. And if that wasn’t enough, she set a meet record in the latter, helping the Red Raiders secure the overall team championship.
Reiss, however, wasn’t the only local athlete to take home some gold as Ferndale senior Tallen Williams etched his name in the 3A record book by claiming the boys’ state title in the long jump with a meet record as well.
Rounding out the list of Whatcom County state titlist was the Lynden girls’ 4×400 relay team of Sara Jones, Mercy Berkmeyer, Savonne Sterk and Amanda Mata, who captured first place at the 2A meet with a time of 4:00.46.
Reiss opened the three-day meet on May 23 by winning the 1600 in a time of 4:57.56 and providing her with a little bit of redemption in the process. She had won the event as a sophomore with a similar time (4:59.16) before finishing fifth as a junior with a time of 5:06.41.
“I think there’s always pressure,” Reiss said about the 1600, an event she had the fastest seed time in entering the state meet. “I haven’t always had my best race at this event because of the stress. I kind of had a different approach this year. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to perform in any way. I just thought I’d go out and do my best and focus on myself.”
The approach was successful as her winning time was 14 seconds faster than any other runner in the field and nearly 20 seconds better than the third-place finisher.
“My race plan was to start a little slower and really kick in the last two laps and I really think I did that,” Reiss said. “It was nice to start with the pack and have some people to pace off of before pulling away and executing the plan my coach gave me.”
As impressive as her performance was in the 1600, it wasn’t the only one at the meet for the talented Reiss. Two days later she added a second state title by winning the 3200 in a speedy 10:47.77. Her winning time in the event bested the meet record set in 2012 by Sanne Holland of Cheney.
In between her two state championships, Reiss also joined teammates Madeline Burnett, Claire Campbell and Grace Much to place seventh in the 4×400 relay.
The Red Raiders also received a fourth from Ginger Mullins in the pole vault, a fifth and sixth in the 100 and 400, respectively, from Carmen Souza, and a sixth from Makenna Pittman in the 800 to win the girls 2A state title.
Bellingham finished with 42 points, edging North Kitsap and Port Angeles, which both posted 39 points, for the team championship. Ellensburg (36 points) and Columbia River (34) rounded out the top five in the standings.
Additional local athletes placing at the 2A girls state meet included Blaine’s Eleeshiyah Faulkner (third, 300 hurdles), Lynden’s Amanda Mata (fourth, 400) and Sehome’s Cameron Hodges (fifth, 800) and Dawson Rothenbuhler (sixth, shot put).
At the 2A boys state meet, Sehome senior Lucas Cunningham finished second in the 800, stopping the clock in 1:55.95. Sequim’s Murray Bingham won the race in 1:55.94.
Although denied a state title by the slimmest of margins, Cunningham still ended the season a state champion as the Sehome boys won the 2A state academic championship. Coached by Kevin Ryan, the Mariners finished with a classification-best 3.568 GPA.
Lynden’s Nathan Doering placed twice, collecting a fifth in the 110 hurdles (15.38) and a fourth in the 300 hurdles (40.18).
Williams’ winning mark in the boys 3A long jump was 23-11.25, breaking the meet record of 23-10.75 set in 2005 by Rashad Toussaint of West Valley of Spokane. Williams also finished second in the triple jump (46-06.00). The event was won by Lincoln senior Javon Gray (47-00.25).
Lynden Christian and Nooksack Valley each had an athlete place second at the 1A state girls’ championships at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, while Meridian had two members of its boys’ squad post runner-up performances at the 1A boys’ meet.
The Meridian boys finished fourth overall in the 1A team standings with 41 points. Lakeside (Nine Mike) claimed the state title with 77 points. South Whidbey (51 points) was second and Stevenson (45) finished third.
Nooksack Valley freshman Tehya Moore claimed second in the triple jump (35-10.50).
Senior Harlon Stuit paced the Meridian boys with second place finishes in the long jump (21-10.00), triple jump (43-02.50) and 110 hurdles (14.78). The Trojans also got a second from junior Hesser Sotello in the javelin (147-05).
The Lynden Christian girls’ 4×400 relay team of Liv Mellema, Ava Decker, Tara Hollander and Laine DeJong and Meridian senior Mali Mack (100) picked up third place finishes at the 1A girls’ meet, while Mount Baker senior Matias Velasquez was third in the discus at the 1A boys’ meet.