TRACK: Kentwood girls, Kent-Meridian boys dazzle at Pasco Invitational

A little bit of sun went a long way for Kentwood High's Holly DeHart this past weekend.

Dehart, a junior, delivered a big-time show at Edgar Brown Stadium during the Pasco Invitational on Saturday. DeHart won the 100-meter dash (12.25), the 200 (24.90), finished second in the long jump (17-feet-6 inches) and helped both of Kentwood's relay teams finish among the top three.

When it was all said and done, DeHart's big day propelled the Conquerors to first place with 56 points, well ahead of second-place Oregon powerhouse Jesuit High (41) and third-place Southridge (38).

And all it took was a little nice weather.

"I think the weather helped a lot just because it has been colder," DeHart said about the sunny conditions in Pasco. "It was nice to finally be able to walk around and be warm instead of having to do so much stretching in between events."

The Pasco Invitational, which pulls in 1,300-plus competitors and more than 100 teams, is widely considered the biggest meet of the year. The team title has vaulted Kentwood up into a small handful of squads that are expected to challenge for a state crown next month.

And a big reason for that is Dehart's performance.

"Her best days are still coming in May. If I thought that this was the pinnacle of her career, I would be short-changing her," said Kentwood coach Steve Roche. "She’s just a rock star. She’s amazing.”

It was a big day throughout for the Kentwood girls. Also finishing near the top were: Alex Toeaina (second in the shot put, 40-01), Dana Wareham (fourth in the 400, 59.71), the 4 x 100 relay team of Mykala Benjamin, Holly DeHart, Quincie Proctor-Guyton, Aiesha Goodlow (second, 49.75), and the 4 x 400 relay team of Alena Davis, Proctor-Guyton, Megan McNally, and Wareham (third, 4:03.98).

“I went into it knowing that it was very possible (that we could win it),” Roche said. “We left points out there, and that is what’s kind of amazing to me.”

The day also proved to be a big one for local sophomores Madelayne Varela of Kentlake and Kentridge's Katie Lake. Varela won the 400 meter (57.94), took fourth in the 100-meter dash (12.68) and finished fifth in the 200 (26.27). Lake won the long jump (17-8.25) and finished fourth in the 200 (26.24).

Meanwhile, the Kent-Meridian boys also delivered a dazzling performance, finishing second with 54 points, just behind Mead (60) and well ahead of third-place North Central (36).

BJ Arceneaux led the way for the Royals, leading both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay teams to titles while finishing second in the 100-meter dash (11.11) and second in the 200 (22.37).

“(BJ) really has turned a corner," said K-M coach Ernie Ammons. "He has matured physically and mentally. He’s coaching other kids, has become a scholar of the sport and knows who’s doing what and what he needs to do.”

The second-place finish further cemented Kent-Meridian as a legitimate title contender for the state team crown.

“Our goal was to go in there and be top three," Ammons said. "I thought we had the opportunity to win it, but a couple things didn’t work out quite the way we wanted. We missed that team title by six points and we know exactly where they were.”

Brandon Harris, Prescott Jackson and David Jones joined Arceneaux on the winning 4 x 100 relay team. The group broke the tape in 42.46 seconds. Arceneaux, Jackson, Jones and Derrick Daigre set the pace in the 4 x 400 relay with a time of 3:22.73. Kent-Meridian's Louis Garman added a second-place finish in the triple jump (45-11.25).

Meanwhile, Tahoma star thrower Derek Eager continued to be the state's best in the discus and javelin. Eager, a senior, blew away the field in the discus (177-4) and did the same in the javelin (229-5). Eager's toss in the javelin was a solid 34 feet longer than his next closest competitor.

• ALSO: The track scene in Kent is alive and well. Other big performances at the Pasco Invitational included Kent-Meridian's Jenna Crain and Kelsey Bueno finishing 2-3 in the pole vault. Crain established a new personal best, going 12-feet even while Bueno tied a PR by going 11-6. Crain's mark would have won a state title last year. ... Kentwood's Tim Pettit took third in the 800 (1:55.48) and fourth in the 400 (49.79). Teammate Kevin Bateman took third in the high jump (6-4).

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