Patrick Adkisson took one look at the three flags trackside at Central Washington University, standing straight out, poles bent over like a fly rod with a 20-pound trout hooked up and said, “home field advantage baby.”

It wasn’t ideal. But if you can’t play in the wind in Washington, you might as well go home. The Ellensburg High School boys and girls track and field team rode a tailwind into the District 5/6/7 Regional Qualifier Friday at the Wildcat Track. Both were coming off District 5/6 championships the week before. Both were looking to qualify as many as the could for the 2A State Championships next week at Mount Tahoma.

It was something a little different this year, instead of top four like years past, only the top three individuals and relays would move on. The Ellensburg girls qualified 10 individuals and all three relays. The Bulldog boys moved six individuals and a relay on to the next level.

Leah Holmgren took a quick look over her shoulder when the bell sounded the final lap of the girls 1600. Seeing no one within 20 meters, the Bulldog junior tucked her chin to her chest and pushed forward into the driving wind that caught runners around the 300-meter mark at the top of the curve and dogged them all the way down the back straight until they finally came out off the curve at the other end.

The District 5/6 champion, who went into the regional race with the fastest qualifying time, clocked 5 minutes, 19.43 seconds and added a regional title to her list of accomplishments. She also defeated the field in the 3200 field in 11:42.47

“I kept waiting for someone to take the lead, so I could draft. But you can only run so slow for so long,” said Holmgren, who finally took the lead during the second lap. “I’ll have to run different in the state race next week, but once I took the lead I just pulled away. I feel pretty good, but I’ll let you know next week.”

Adkisson was steady as Ellensburg wind coming off the Cascades in the boys 1600. He knew going in that Selah’s Shea Mattson was one to beat, having finished second to the Viking junior at the district level. As the lead pack took advantage of a tailwind coming down the home stretch Eliason Kabasenche of Pullman pulled away with Mattson and Adkisson giving chase. Adkisson did finish third in 4:44.85 to qualify for the 2A meet.

“I knew I had the advantage today because I’m used to running in the wind,” he said. “You just had to tuck your head and run. I just wanted to run smart and not let the leaders get too far ahead. I’m moving on and that’s all that matters.”

The girls 4x100 relay set a new district record last week, winning in 49.37. They were second to none again on Friday at Wildcat Track. Ellensburg’s Caitlyn Cheney, Karissa Littke, Morghan Nass and E’lexis Hollis torched a quality field in 50.21, keeping their momentum going into the biggest race of the season next week at Mount Tahoma. That same lineup also won the 4x200 in 1:47.96

“I love this team. We try to put our personal lives aside, so when we step on the track we are one,” said Nass, who runs the third leg. “You really had to pay attention today with everybody yelling ‘stick’ (on the exchange) with the wind blowing. But I thought we ran great.”

Said Cheney, “We had our personal best last week, but I thought we ran well today considering the wind,” she said. “We want to be running our best race next week anyway.”

District 5/6 discus champion Wyatt Franklin battled left-to-right wind all day in the discus ring. Had it been going the other way, he’d of been in thrilled beyond belief. But a right-handed thrower going into a left-handed wind is a battle for control all day long. He did punch his ticket to the state championships, marking at 137-feet-6 to finish second.

“You had to work a little harder today to control the disc,” the Ellensburg senior said. “You don’t want to change too much and have your form out-of-whack for next week. So today was all about focusing on technique and taking what the wind gave you.”

The girls had a big day. Holmgren won two events. Morghan Nass (17-6.25) and Grace Oldham (16-10.25) went one-two in the long jump. On the boys side, Branden Wise (176-1) was the regional champion in the javelin.

Local girls qualifiers

100 — 2. E’lexis Hollis, 12.12; 3, Caitlyn Cheney, 12.69

400 — 3. Madison Thompson, 1:01.60

1600 — 1. Leah Holmgren, 5:19.43

3200 — 1. Leah Holmgren, 11:42.47

4x100 — 1. Ellensburg (Caitlyn Cheney, Karissa Littke, Morghan Nass, E’lexis Hollis) 50.21

4x200 — 1. Ellensburg (Caitlyn Cheney, Karissa Littke, Morghan Nass, E’lexis Hollis) 1:47.96

4x400 — 3. Ellensburg (Abigail Selby, Tess Preppernau, Leah Holmgren, Madison Thompson)

Shot put — 2. Kambria Hartrick, 36-1.5

Discus — 3. Kambria Hartrick, 101-10

High jump — 3, Grace Oldham, 5-0

Long jump — 1. Morghan Nass, 17-6.25; 2. Grace Oldham, 16-10.25

Local boys qualifiers

1600 — 3. Patrick Adkisson, 4:4485

110-hurdles — 2. Aiden Wise, 14.923

4x400 — 2. Ellensburg (Nolan Meyer, Gabe Fjellstad, Patrick Adkisson,)Damien Anderson), 3:34.32

Discus — 2. Wyatt Franklin, 137-6

Javelin — 1. Branden Wise, 176-1

Pole vault — 2. Andy Savage, 13-0

Long jump — 3. Dion Hardeman, 21-6.5

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