All-County Track meet due Saturday

Grays Harbor’s track elite — including several defending champions — will gather in Hoquiam for the annual All-County Track & Field Championships on Saturday.

Following a successful two-year stint at North Beach High School, the meet shifts to Sea Breeze Oval this year. Field events begin at 11 a.m., with running events to follow at 12:30 p.m.

Hoquiam swept team honors last year. All Grays Harbor County teams that offer track programs are expected to participate.

Although high-profile duels — such at the much-anticipated battles between Hoquiam’s Cole Smith and Aberdeen’s since-graduated Tyson Stipic in the boys high jump the past few years — seem to be absent this time around, several state-level standouts figure to be on hand.

The two-time reigning state 1A champion, Smith will set his sights on the meet high jump record of 6-6 he established last year. The Hoquiam senior cleared 6-7 in the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in California last weekend and has a personal best of 6-10.

Smith is also the defending champion in the javelin but faces stiff competition in that event from his Grizzly teammate Evan Erickson. The latter owns the state’s best 1A mark of 176-2, while Smith is second with a season-best 173-2.

Hoquiam’s Mikaila Johnson, who tied the all-county record for the girls high jump at 5-2, is also back.

Both sprints should be hotly contested. Hoquiam senior Nolan Hoiness, who swept the boys 100 and 200 last year, will face the challenge of Elma’s Ray Stark (who has run 11.29 in the 100 this year), Montesano’s Tanner Birdsall and Wishkah’s Ethen Arnold and Keigan Gardiner. Hoiness was clocked in 11.0 in winning the 100 last year.

Hoquiam’s Olivia Rose and Lindsay Leonard and Elma’s Natalie Grant are among the leading contenders in the girls sprints. Rose is also the defending all-county champion in the triple jump and has the state’s best 1A mark of 35-1 this year.

Stark could succeed his older brother Joel as the all-county boys hurdles champions. Wishkah’s Gardiner is the state Class 1B leader in the short hurdles at 16.84.

North Beach’s Chloe Werner is the defending meet champion in both girls hurdles.

Aberdeen’s Poli Baltazar and Montesano’s Gabrielle Rudolph pulled off distance triples last year and are favored in whatever events they choose to run on Saturday.

Some of the meet’s highlights could come in the throwing events.

North Beach’s Crystal Lynch placed second to Montesano superstar Tera Novy (now at USC) in the girls shot and discus last year. Lynch ranks second among Class 2B throwers in both events, with marks of 38-2 1/2 in the shot and 118-11 in the discus.

Aberdeen’s Shayna Wilson is the defending girls javelin champion.

North Beach’s Caleb Bridge, Taholah’s Joseph Winn and Aberdeen’s Brycson Talley are among the top contenders in the boys shot and discus. Winn possesses the state’s best Class 1B shot put mark of 44-3. Bridge’s top throw of 136-8 is second among state 2B discus competitors.

Anchor Bank will continue its longstanding co-sponsorship of this meet and will be joined this year by the Grizzly Alumni Association, Hale Chiropractic, Harbor Awards and the Hoquiam Elks Past Exalted Rulers Association.