LMS tracksters champs again

And this was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

Overwhelming numbers of girls in blue who preferred being at the front of the pack were the difference for the Langley Middle School track team recently as it defended its conference title again.

On May 29, the largest Cougar track and field team ever traveled to the North County League championship, where the seventh- and eighth-grade girls more than doubled up the score on the runner-ups in the 13-team meet.

The 235 points they amassed together was more than enough to take an overall team championship against primarily 3A and 4A school competition, but the margin was even greater with third-place points from the seventh-grade boys and 10th-place points from the eighth-grade boys. In the end, LMS was a 327.5-point winner over second-place Cedarcrest (162) and third-place Centennial (155.5).

As they have been all season, the team's youngest girls were the most dominant. Unbeatable most of this year, Kelsey Kimmel again came through to win the 1,600, while Anna Schmitt took the 800 after gapping the competition by 12 seconds.

The team's other wins came in the relays. Kimmel, Schmitt, Amy Pfeiffer and Elizabeth Dealy-Thompson were three seconds quicker than Lake Stevens in the 4x200, winning the event in 1:59.93. In the 4x100, Lindsey Mock, Hope Richards, Jessica Winn and Emily Grove took almost two full seconds out of Centennial to make champion in 54.22.

Other top sevie performances included a second place in the 100 hurdles by Mock, and Pfeiffer's 14-foot, 7-inch runner-up long jump. In all, 23 individuals and relay teams made scoring placings in the meet.

Almost as prolific were the eighth grade Cougar girls. Though limited to just two event wins, one from Katie Watson in the 100 hurdles and the other from Maya Black on a 4-7 high jump, the LMS girls took enough second- and third-place finishes to make their championship unquestionable. In fact, in the hurdle event, the Cougars were completely dominant, with Kaylee Baldwin finishing second and Jenna Wild taking third.

Adding to more than just the point total, Katherine East came the closest of any Cougar athlete at the meet to setting a new record. Her 1:01.92 dash in the 400 came within one-tenth of a second of the school record time set by Leann Hymas in 1993. Other second-place finishers were Rita Jones in the 200, Black in the long jump, and Anna Miller in the high jump. In the relays, East, Sarah Olson, Jones and Baldwin crossed the line in second place in the 4x200 in a tight finish with teams from Northlake Middle School and Marysville Junior High.

There was not as much glory, but still plenty of strong performances for the seventh-grade boys. Though outgunned by teams from Evergreen and Eisenhower middle schools for the top spots in the day's track and field events, the Cougars came up with enough second-, third- and fourth-place races to stay in the championship hunt until meet's end. Sparking the Cougars was Marco Plastino with a second-place, 17.8-second finish in the 110 hurdles, Jason Fitz with the same placing in a 2:27.39, 800-meter run, and Alex Helpenstell with a towering 5-1 leap to second place in the high jump.

The boys were most dominant in the hurdles, with a third place finish by Fitz and a fourth-place finish from Helpenstell in addition to Plastino's performance.

Points and placings were hardest to come by for the eighth-grade boys. Todd Berry had the highest finish of any individual on the team, taking third in the shot put with a 28-6 throw. Fellow thrower Jordon Streitler picked up fourth in the discus on a 116-10 toss, then demonstrated his flexibility by leaping 5-3 in the high jump for fourth place.

Other eighth-grade point getters were Chris DePender in the 800 and Josh Bavaro in the long jump.

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