Mountaineers have eyes on state titles halfway through regular season

Rainier’s track teams showing signs of dominance


A buzz is beginning to build around the Rainier High School track and field teams at the halfway mark of the regular season. Both the girls and boys boast complete, deep rosters capable of making some noise at the state championship meet in Yakima next month.

The girls are dominating nearly every meet, taking the first-place spot in four of their five meets, including most recently at the Leo Rubstello Invitational on Thursday, April 11, in Raymond, where they earned 218 points compared with second-place Kalama’s 94.5. Five different girls took first place in nine different events, and the team also picked up a win in the 4x100 throwers relay.

Rainier’s boys are exceeding expectations after coming into the season with a young group. They have notched top-three finishes in four of their five meets to start the season, including a victory at the 1B/2B league meet at Napavine to start the campaign. Zander Peck was Rainier’s lone first-place finisher, as his javelin throw of 155 feet, 9 inches cleared all other throws by over 16 feet.

According to girls head coach Rob Henry, the 2024 team is as complete as any he has seen since 2005, when the Mountaineers took second at state.

“We’ve got kids in every event. We’re getting points out of all the components. They just keep getting better as a whole,” Henry said.

The Mountaineer girls are led by two reigning state champions in high jumper Acacia Murphy, who also competes as a sprinter, and pole vaulter Ella Marvin. Both Murphy and Marvin have exceeded their state championship-winning numbers halfway through their junior seasons, an impressive feat as both have battled injuries.

“I started this year with a 5-foot-2 jump, and last year I ended with 5-foot-2,” Murphy said. “I’m really hoping to get 5-foot-4. It’s a mental thing more than anything. There was a lot of pressure coming into this season because I have to be more rigorous. There are girls that are just as good as me in the league, and I need to watch out for them.”

Junior Madison Ingram has been another standout for the Mountaineers so far as a distance runner, as she swept the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter events in Raymond last week. This season, she has eight first-place finishes to her name and set personal bests in every event, including in both the 800-meter and 1600-meter events on Thursday.

She credited the help of her father, Robert Ingram, a volunteer coach, for her improvement from last year.

“It’s given me a lot of motivation. I’m having fun but also working hard. Everyone seems more comfortable,” Madison Ingram said of working with her father.

Henry concurred, adding that Robert Ingram has helped with the program’s limited coaches compared to the large group of athletes.

“He’s taken on the distance crew so I can dedicate more time to other places, so he’s been fantastic. He’s knowledgeable, and the kids are receptive to him, which is great,” Henry said.

Thanks to their stellar start to the regular season, the girls are confident a team state championship is within reach, as are more individual golds.

“We’re just really driven. We’re really determined and competitive,” junior Emma Mathson said. “We all joke around, but when it comes time to compete, we focus up and get the job done.”

“I think we’re the closest we’ve ever been before to a state title,” Murphy added. “I think we could get it if we really tried our hardest.”

While the boys have not racked up as many wins as the girls to start the year, they have improved from meet to meet. The Mountaineers are led by their throwers, including Peck, senior Matthew Kenney and senior Chris Grey. Peck finished third at state in javelin last season and has put in the work to contend for first in Yakima in May.

“I’m feeling pretty confident. I hit 166 feet in my first meet in javelin, and that was a huge personal best by like 13 feet,” he said. “I’m also getting better at discus. I hit a PR of 116 feet and 7 inches on Thursday. I’m not great at discus but I’m getting better.”

Kenney has had a strong start to the season, earning three top-three finishes in shot put and four top-three finishes in discus, including two victories in each event.

“I want to try to get 150 feet in discus and top five at state. I think I’m really close to getting those,” said Kenney, who threw over 146 feet in discus on March 16 for his season best.

Boys head coach Josh Frunz praised the team for its improvement despite injuries and some athletes hitting plateaus. He added that his throwers have the potential to compete for state championships, even with a bevy of talented athletes in the league.

“Kids are working hard, really working on honing their technique. It’s been a great group to work with so far. We’ve been right in the top three in a lot of our meets, and some of those have been without a few key pieces,” Frunz said. “Hopefully we’ll get everybody back together so we can compete for the top spots.”

The Mountaineers competed on Tuesday, April 16, in a 1B/2B/1A league meet at Napavine High School, but results were not available before press time. They will ramp up their schedule to close out the month with the Chehalis Activators Classic on Friday, April 19, at W.F. West High School, a league meet at Eatonville High School on April 25, and the Shelton Invitational on April 27 before their final home meet on May 2.