By Pat Jenkins
Justin Kaelin, who ranked throughout the 2014 season as one of the top high school track and field athletes in Washington, can now back that up as the state 1A champion in the shot put.
The Eatonville High School junior claimed the title last Saturday with an effort of 56 feet 6.5 inches. He won by nearly three feet over his closest competitor during the state championships at Eastern Washington University in Cheney.
Kaelin led all shot put competitors in every high school classification statewide and went undefeated during the regular season with marks that reached 58 feet. While he was short of that last weekend in the state meet, he cemented his dominance by easily outdistancing runnerup Jose Padilla of Chelan, whose best was 53 feet 9 inches.
The season of nothing but first-place finishes for Kaelin included wins in the Tri-District (57 feet 11 inches) and Nisqually League meets and invitationals, including the prestigious Oregon Relays at the University of Oregon.
Leading up to his culinating victory in the shot put, Kaelin finished third in the discus at the state championships at 154 feet 9 inches. The winner of that event on Friday was Michah Humann of Lakeside at 162 feet. Padilla (155-2) was second, just five inches better than Kaelin.
Three of Kaelin’s teammates earned fourth-place finishes in Cheney – Zachary Promitas in the 110-meter high hurdles, Logan Moose in the high jump, and Joe Evans in the long jump.
Promitas clocked in at 15.31 seconds, about half a second behind champion Cody Triana of Rochester (14.94).
Moose cleared 6 feet, just two inches less than the winner, Rick Buckner of Northwest.
Evans soared 21 feet 1 inches. The winning mark was 22 feet 4 inches by Eli Whitland of Woodland.
Eatonville athletes also posted three other top-six finishes. Jeff Patterson was fifth in the 300 high hurdles in 40.63 seconds. The 4×100 relay team of Natasha Henley, Brailee VandenBoom, Alexa Graddy and Machaela Graddy placed fifth in 50.25 seconds. And the Graddy sisters, VandenBoom and Heidi Brankline teamed to finish sixth in the 4×200 relay in 1:47.7.
Promitas, Kaelin in the shot put and Eatonville’s Daisey Newman in the girls discus entered the state meet as Tri-District champions.
Other top-eight finishes at the Tri-District level that qualified Cruisers for the state meet included:
• For the boys, George Tomal in the 100 and 200, Isaac Boetcher in the 800, Jeff Patterson in the 110 and 300 hurdles, Promitas in the 300 hurdles, Ryan Franz in the discus, the 4×100 relay team of Patterson, Evans, Franz and Tomal, John Warner in the javelin, TJ McArther in the high jump, Thomas Ridgway and Moose in the long jump, and Evans in the triple jump.
• For the girls, Brailee VandenBoom in the 200, Machaela Graddy in the 400 and javelin, Emma Vuksich in the 3,200, Mia Snyder in the 100 hurdles, Newman in the shot put and javelin, Heidi Brankline in the long jump and triple jump, and two relay squads – the 4×100 unit of Natasha Henley, VandenBoom and sisters Alexa and Machaela Graddy, and the 4×200 foursome of Brankline, Alexa Graddy, VanndenBoom and Machaela Graddy. Brankline set a school record at 16 feet 3 inches in the long jump.
Eatonville finished second and third, respectively, in the boys and girls team standings in the Tri-District meet. King’s was the team champion in both.