The Mercer Island track and field team has high hopes for this season.
But Thursday the Islanders ran into a mountain of a problem to start the season: Both the boys and girls squads were defeated in the first meet of the year against Mount Si at Islander Stadium.
“We did a lot of work to get back into shape during the preseason meets,” said Islander Kahlil Mathews. But we still have some work to do.”
The Islander boys team was defeated 84-60 as Mount Si swept first place from every field event.
One bright spot was the running of the 4X400 meter relay team. Although they ran unopposed, Mathews, Brandon Fellows, Oren Wright and Nicholas Wong completed the event in a time of 3:48.60.
“Our preparation was pretty good and we have some things to work on,” said Mathews. “But I think we have a good team.”
Mercer Island made it to state in the event last season but is replacing a number of athletes.
The distance events are another strength of the team from last year that continues to bring in points. Fellows finished first in the 1,600 meter run with a time of 4:22.00, but the Islanders could not make headway in the scoring department as both second and third place went to Wildcat athletes.
Fellows also finished first in the 800 meters as Mercer Island swept the event. The senior finished in a time of 2:00.3, Daniel Gronfein took second place (2:09.80) and Wright was third (2:16.0).
Mercer Island athlete Naoya Suzuki began the day with a third-place finish in the 200 meters (24.9) as Mount Si took both first and second place in the event.
In the long jump, Suzuki placed second, flying to a distance of 19-feet 7 1/2-inches.
“I have been working for this since last season ended,” said Suzuki. “I want to get to state in the long jump. I just have to get faster, period. If I can run faster, I can jump further.”
Islander Alexander Holland finished third with 18-feet 10 1/2-inches.
In the triple jump Suzuki placed third with 36-feet 2-inches, as Mount Si took first and second place.
“I think we have a good team and I think we can win KingCo,” said Suzuki before the meet. “We just need some time to get everything in order.”
In the high jump Nilesh Vashee cleared 5-feet 4-inches for second place, while Garrett Grob took third with a height of 5-feet 2-inches. Islander Jason Frankel finished second in the shot-put with a distance of 36-feet 1-inch but was the bookend in the final standings by Mount Si athletes.
Mount Si gained more team points by sweeping the pole vault, javelin, and discus.
The Wildcats took the 4X100 meter relay as they ran unopposed.
Islander Alex Holland narrowly edged out a Mount Si runner and a teammate during the 100 meters and took first place with a time of 11.6 seconds.
Brian Govier took first in the 400 meters with a time of 51.1.
“It is just an awesome time for this point in the season,” said Mercer Island track and field assistant head coach Lezley Smith.
Troy Bannister finished third in the 400 with a time of 56.4 for Mercer Island.
In the 110 meter hurdles, Islander Zack Cesternino, in his first hurdles race, finished second with a time of 19.2. His Mount Si opponent took first with a time of 14.60. Cesternino also came in second in the 300 meter hurdles in a time of 47.9 with Philip Konopa placing third (55.0).
One of the biggest strengths of this year’s team is its depth. But that depth comes with a price.
“We didn’t have enough uniforms and the logistics of the whole thing is different,” said Mercer Island track and field head coach Chris Twombley. “Our coaches really connected with our kids, but we need some more work.”
Girls track and field
The girls team lost to Mount Si to start the season with a score of 89-56, despite a strong showing on the track.
“We had some nice surprises,” said Smith. “It really takes the first meet to see what you have. There are some definite places that we can improve.”
Islander freshman Tracy Vojik was the biggest surprise as she took first place in the 100 hurdles with a time of 17.7 seconds. Mercer Island swept the points from the event as Anna Larsen took second (18.0) and Anastasia Watson came in third (18.3).
Mercer Island senior Jennifer Doane was the only team finisher in the 100 meters as she placed third with a time of 13.5 seconds.
“We have a good senior base,” said Doane. “The amount of people we have is our greatest strength but we need to focus our talent a bit more. I just have the focus of helping the team to win.”
The Islanders collected a lot of team points during the distance portion of the meet. Mercer Island senior Jean Laschever took second (5:37) in the 1,600 meters, but was bookended by Mount Si athletes for first and third.
Lauren Govier finished first in the 400 meters (1:06.20) and Cathy Caputo took second (1:07.20).
The 800 meters was all Mercer Island. Sophomore Laura Vogel competed in the event for the first time in her young career and took first place (2:30.5). Lynne Tempest was second for the Islanders (2:32.00) and McKay Duer third (2:34.40).
First and second place in the 3,200 meters was won by Mount Si, but Islander Christine Iwanyk took third with a time of 14:14.40.
Vogel came in first in the long jump with a distance of 16-feet 3 1/2-inches. Islander Brooke Bourguignon finished third in the event with 13-feet 9 1/2-inches. Bourguignon also took third in the triple jump (28-feet 4 1/2-inches) and second in the 200 meters in a time of 28.9 seconds. Govier finished third in the race (29.3 seconds).
Islander Anna Larsen took first in the 300 hurdles with a time of 50.6 seconds. Marie Dudley was third (58.7). Dudley took first in the high jump with 4-feet 6-inches as she competed unopposed.
But Mount Si took all the team points from the pole vault, 4X400 meter relay, 4X200 meter relay and 4X100 meter relay.
The Islanders took third place in the shot put (Kelly Sullivan — 22-feet 10-inches), discus (Watson — 58-feet 3-inches) and the javelin (Carrie Miller — 70-feet 7-inches).
Both Mercer Island track and field teams will regroup and travel to Interlake at 4 p.m. Thursday for a meet against the Saints. The Islander team will get a week off for spring break and resume the season April 22 at home against Sammamish.