Vogel wins state title in 400-m - Tempest takes third in 800 meters, O"Meara overcomes disaster in 1,600 meters

By Matt Phelps

Laura Vogel had a lot of expectations as a sophomore athlete competing for the Mercer Island High School girls track and field team. She exceeded them with her first state championship by breaking the tape at the end of the 400 meters.

``I expected to maybe finish third or fight for second,'' said Vogel.

Vogel's win, along with strong performances by Lynne Tempest and Madeline O'Meara, helped the Islander girls to an 11th-place finish at the track and field state meet at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco, Wash., the Islanders had 23 team points.

Vogel's run was a personal best for the young Islander, finishing the race in a time of 57.94 seconds. Vogel had to come from behind the leader, Anna Walters of North Central, who lost by 0.37 seconds.

``During the final stretch I started kicking and I finally caught her at the end,'' said Vogel.

The trip to the podium was not the first during the meet for Vogel, but she said it definitely felt different.

``It hadn't really registered,'' said Vogel, ``But after standing in the eighth spot, it was a far different feeling being on top of the podium.''

Vogel's other event was the long jump, where the wind hurt most of the athlete's scores.

``I don't think anyone could have jumped their best in that wind,'' said Vogel.

Vogel's best in the event is 17-feet 3-inches, but the wind and heat hurt her final mark, finishing in eighth place with a distance of 15-feet 10-inches.

Tempest ran well in her only event to place. During the 800 meters, she finished more than a full second ahead of her next closest competitor to take third place overall, with a time of 2:18.99.

O'Meara ran the 1,600 meters. Although she finished seventh overall, the senior earned a great amount of respect during her final meet as an Islander.

She began the race in good position. But at the 500-meter mark, O'Meara lost her footing and fell to the ground, hitting her head and shoulder hard on the track surface. However, she got back up and continued the race. Determined to make her final run as an Islander end on a positive note, O'Meara pushed herself to get back into the race. Out of the 16 girls that began the race, O'Meara finished ahead of nine other runners to medal in the event with a time of 5:18.59.

``It really showed her character and her perseverance,'' said Erica Hill, the Islanders' distance running coach. ``She awed everyone in that stadium.''

During the first day of competition on Friday, O'Meara ran in the 3,200 meters and finished fifth overall with a time of 11:04.59.

O'Meara will attend Stanford University next year and run for the Cardinal. Her coach will be Mercer Island graduate Dena Dey Evans, who is regarded as one of the best female athletes to have competed for the Islanders. O'Meara will be Evans' first Islander athlete to compete for her at Stanford.

``She hasn't begun to tap into her talent,'' said Hill.

Tempest, Ali Caditz, Vogel and McKay Duer competed at state in the 4x400 meters but did not qualify for the finals.

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