Grace Academy athlete on track with dual 1B state championships

Grace Academy track standout Brian Young has a long scrape down his right arm that is just beginning to heal. “I was long jumping and I wasn’t doing too well during my prelim jumps, “ he said. “I scraped it on the concrete in the pit.” As Young and eight of his teammates travelled to Eastern Washington University to compete in the 1B state championship meet, Young went to defend his state meet record in the boys long jump and vie against league rival Jordan Smith, of Lopez Island, for the title of best high jumper. Young emerged from the meet a dual champion, winning both jumps.

Grace Academy junior Brian Young won the long jump and high jump at the 1B state championship meet in Cheney

Grace Academy track standout Brian Young has a long scrape down his right arm that is just beginning to heal.

“I was long jumping and I wasn’t doing too well during my prelim jumps, “ he said. “I scraped it on the concrete in the pit.”

As Young and eight of his teammates travelled to Eastern Washington University to compete in the 1B state championship meet, Young went to defend his state meet record in the boys long jump and vie against league rival Jordan Smith, of Lopez Island, for the title of best high jumper.

Young emerged from the meet a dual champion, winning both jumps.

While Smith came into the high jump competition with the better qualifying mark — 6-3 to Young’s 6-2 — it was Young who won the high jump title by clearing 6-3. The Grace Academy junior takes a visual approach to the sport.

“It’s very mental,” he said. “I was thinking about how high it was. But I just had to jump over this bar.”

The event came down to a jump-off between Smith and Young, and the two are competitors in more sports than track — the Grace Academy and Lopez Island athletes also clashed on the basketball court this past winter.

“He’s a great athlete, so he’s always been better than me,” Young said, analyzing their interactions. “I don’t know if I’d call it a rivalry, but he’s someone I wanted to beat.”

In the long jump, as Young alluded to, his championship was a matter of coming from behind. While the Eagle got as far as he had in the season with a fixed starting point for his sprint leading up to the jump, in a bit of providence, he was forced to pick a spot before the tape measure came out to fine-tune his starting point.

“I call it a God provision mark, because it just worked out,” Young said. “I was actually going into finals seeded last, after coming into state fourth.”

He won the event with a best jump of 19-1.

A small school, Grace Academy had about 17 athletes come out for track this season. Nonetheless, the Eagles compete in almost all of the nearly 20 events track and field offers — they only lack a pole vaulting team. With the encouragement of returning track athletes, Grace got enough girls out for the team this year to contend for the district championship. This year, they got it, winning the Northwest League by one point.

“All the girls who are new (to the team) actually went to state. They’re great assets to their team,” he said.

A musician, Young said he is inspired in competition by music. He has also adapted the philosophy of Olympian Eric Liddel to his event after learning the sprinter’s biography.

“One thing they said in the movie is, ‘God has made me to run. And when I run, I feel his pleasure,’” Young said, adding that his mantra has become, “God has made me to jump. And when I jump, I feel his pleasure.”

Complete Grace Academy state results

Crystal Holmes — fifth in the high jump (4-2), DNP in the triple jump.

Jay Lee — sixth place in the 110 hurdles (17.23).

Sung-Yong Lee — sixth place in the long jump (17-10 1/2).

Katie Mittelstaedt — seventh place in the 100 (14.23).

Annie Ubben — sixth place in the long jump (14-6 1/2), eighth place in the 800 (2:44.26).

Sarah Wennersten — fifth place in the 400 (1:04.99).

Victoria West — eighth place in the 3,200 (14:39.25).

Brian Young — first place in the high jump (6-3), first place in the long jump (19-1).

Girls 4×200 relay — third place (1:55.84).

Girls 4×400 relay — third place (4:35.88).

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