BY CHRIS WELLS
Too close to call was a phrase echoed quite commonly Saturday afternoon in Sumner, but it was used to its fullest extent in the boy’s 110-meter hurdles.
A tight race from start to finish, Washington’s Victor Gamboa literally nosed in front of White River’s Devin Liebel for the first place finish in the finals.
How close is a nose? 0.01 seconds.
Gamboa finished with a career best 14.68 while missed his personal record, but still finished with a respectable 14.69.
“It was a really good race,” Gamboa said. “The dude from North Mason (Craig Allen; 15.02) was right behind me and the dude from White River (Liebel), they were both right there, so I feel really good about that. Then to PR in a race like that against people and competition like that, it feels really good.”
With the top five placement, Gamboa clinched his first appearance for the state meet. Later in the day, the junior also made it to state for the 300-meter hurdles, 4×100 relay and 4×400 relay.
Washington head coach Ricardo Ferrell said it was a big win for Gamboa going into state.
“It’s going to be a very … inspirational thing for him going forward just knowing he can do that,” Ferrell said of Gamboa’s 110-meter hurdle performance. “Especially in this field, it’s probably going to be the most competitive 110-hurdle field in the state, and to know he came out on top of it gave him a lot of confidence moving forward.”
Although one tight race would usually be enough for one day, White River’s Marcus Dickson had a different idea in the 4×400 relay.
Trailing by 10 meters when he received the baton, Dickson managed to hunt down North Kitsap’s Conner McCorkle with less than five meters to go and barley edged him out at the finish line with a team time of 3:24.62, 0.08 seconds ahead of the second place finishers.
A stunning turn of events, Dickson said his first feeling going through the finish line wasn’t joy.
“I was so tired it was painful,” said Dickson, who came in third in the 3,200-meter race just before the relay. “I was excited because we won the district title, but I know they’re going to be right behind us there at state. My team was really happy we PR’d. So we were excited.”
On the other end of the spectrum, distance coach Dameon Marlow had a mixed bag of emotions.
“Golly … they just ran amazing today,” Marlow said. “They put Marcus in a position where he wasn’t too far out of it.”
“That’s when I started getting nervous,” Marlow said of the 100 meters. “I saw him closing and it was just a matter of did he have enough space at this end. We lost last year at state in the same kind of situation where it came down to a one-hundredth of a second. So that was kind of replaying back in my mind, too.”
AROUND THE TRACK
Besides the 4×400 and 3,200, Dickson qualified for state with first place finishes in the 800 and 1,600. … White River’s senior shot putter Blake Maresh set a personal record and finished in first place with a throw of 51 feet, 7 1/2 inches. … Fife sophomore javelin thrower Savannah Barber beat her best mark by more than 14 feet with a throw of 122 feet, 10-inches. The mark not only won her first place, but was the fourth highest in the 2A this year.