Liquid sunshine from elementary students

Lakeridge athletes are congratulated by friends and teammates as they sprint back to the stands after racing in the 38th annual All-Island Track Meet. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Lakeridge athletes are congratulated by friends and teammates as they sprint back to the stands after racing in the 38th annual All-Island Track Meet.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

There was nothing but liquid sunshine at Islander Stadium on Friday as West Mercer Elementary (421.5 points) won its third All-grade Island Track Meet in a row. Liquid dropped from the sky but the drizzle and wind was met by cheers, painted faces and the glee of elementary students, some getting their first taste of competitive athletics during the event’s 38th year. Island Park scored 206.5 points while Lakeridge finished with 152 in the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation department-sponsored event.

“We want them to learn good sportsmanship,” said Island Park Elementary teacher Jesse Jaramillo, who is in his eighth year as the team’s coach. “We want them to learn to celebrate without taunting and learn about camaraderie. This is just a wonderful tradition.”

The sportsmanship and team pride was in full force as Lakeridge won the spirit award.

The weather took some of the dangers out of the event for the kids as the heat during the past two years was nearly unbearable.

“In the past we were worried about dehydration and sun burns,” said Lakeridge coach Tani Lindquist. “This year it’s slipping in the stands. We want them to get a taste for track. It is great to see some of the older kids come back and help out. That really speaks highly of the Parks and Rec.”

The impact of the event was the most visible in Islanders such as Laura Vogel, who runs track for Columbia University.

“The last time I was out here was when I was in fifth grade,” said the Mercer Island High School graduate and state champion in the 800-meter. “This really got my competitive spirit going. I came back despite the weather.”

The rain and wind was more of a worry for the coaches than the unphazed athletes.

“We just want to keep the kids warm and dry this year,” said West Mercer coach Casey Alin. “They are so pumped, they don’t even notice the rain.”

There was just one new meet record set this year as Gretchen Peterson from West Mercer won the softball throw with a distance of 40.84 meters. The previous meet record was 40.54 meters.

Three students won three individual events. West Mercer’s Piper Casey won the fourth-grade girls’ 50-meter (7.81 seconds), 100-meter (15.62) and the 200-meter (32.90). West Mercer’s Emerson Schulz won the fourth-grade boys’ 50-meter (7.53), 100-meter (14.41) and the 200-meter (30.03). West Mercer’s William Mansfield also won three first places: fifth grade 50-meter (7.47), shot put (9.63 meters) and softball throw (50.29).

Lakeridge athlete Olivia Snell won two events, taking first in the fifth-grade girls 100-meter (14.88) and the standing long-jump (1.98m).

West Mercer’s Sarah Moonka took first in the 50-meter for fifth-grade girls with a time of 7.63 seconds, while teammate David Emanuels won the fifth-grade boys 100-meter run (14.44).

“I am still really nervous, but happy,” said Moonka, following her win. “This is my first year doing this, so I am really excited.”

Island Park’s Carly Ledbetter won the fifth-grade girls 400-meter (1:12.87), while Michael Lake of Lakeridge took the boys race in a time of 1:09.96.

Island Park’s 4x100 relay team of Eliana Grosof, Josh Stenberg, Taylor Krause and John Lee won the fourth-grade event with a time of 1:04.91, while the West Mercer team of Delany Clark, Stephanie Silke, Nelson Hayes and Nathan Galitan won the fifth grade race.

Lakeridge’s Katie Lee won the fourth-grade girls standing long jump with a distance of 1.95 meters, while Peter Lopes of Island Park won the boys event (2.01). Chandler Cahill of Lakeridge won the fifth-grade boys standing long jump (2.04).

The softball throw was only contested by fourth-graders and Jessica Blakeslee of West Mercer won with a distance of 30.18 meters, while Sam Pugel of Island Park took first for the boys (43.89).

“Every day we throw the softball three times to get used to throwing it,” said Island Park fifth grader Steven Woolston.

The fourth-grade shot put for girls was won by Island Park’s Grace Thomas (5.99 meters), while the boys winner was Austin Taylor of West Mercer (7.78).

Julia Bluemstein won the fifth-grade girls shot put (8.59).

Complete results will be posted in next week’s Mercer Island Reporter.

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