Prep boys track and field: Busse, Hoff fuel Bearcats to Activators title


Caleb Busse parked his feet in the discus and shot put rings. Lucas Hoff ran around the field events like a mad man.

The senior stars for W.F. West High School’s boys track and field team had very different experiences on Saturday afternoon.

They shared the final destination multiple times.

Busse, one week after breaking a 60-year old school record in the discus, won the event once again with a best heave of 159 feet flat while Hoff triumphed in the javelin and pole vault.

“I’ve been hunting it for the past three years,” Busse said.

Those wins plus a handful more allowed the Bearcats to cruise to the team trophy at the 34th rendition of the Chehalis Activators Classic with 113 points. Onalaska was third with 63 while Rochester clipped Rainier 46-44 for fifth.

Tumwater (39 points), Napavine (32), Winlock (30), Centralia (15) and Black Hills (10) all finished inside the top-15.

“We do have a lot of seniors, but a lot of them are first-year track athletes,” W.F. West head coach Katie Jansen Guiliani said. “That’s the magical thing about the team in general, they’re just scratching the surface. That’s why we’re still rising.”

It has been a whirlwind week for Busse. His record-setting throw of 172-06 last week at the Pasco Invite moved him to the top of the totem pole in Class 2A.

Even though it was a lifetime best, he felt it was an effortless throw.

“I try to save my third and fourth throws for competition and have my first two throws as warm-ups,” Busse said. “I tend to do better at third and fourth.”

His journey to the top has not been all smooth.

Busse moved to Chehalis from California prior to his sophomore year. That same timeframe, W.F. West got a new throwing coach in the school record hold of the girls discus, Stacy Dowling.

And Busse, a right-handed thrower, is naturally a lefty.

“I taught myself to throw left just so I can understand the mechanics,” Dowling said. “Some of it he dId on his own.”

The switch wasn’t easy.

“I kind of formed bad habits in middle school because I didn’t have a throwing coach,” Busse said. “It got a little more comfortable the third week. I started off as a little baby duck and now I've grown up into an adult duck.”

Distances started out at over 100 feet, then incrementally got farther. At last year’s Activators, Busse eclipsed 150 feet. Then by a league meet this spring, he got over 165 feet.

It wasn’t long after the record was broken.

“I always thought it was possible,” Dowling said. “He had a lot of potential. He can just whip it out there. This would be really fun to coach someone to the school record.”

Busse has ambitions of a state championship. He feels he still can throw farther and even with a target on his back, he doesn’t feel pressure.

“It is more attainable now,” Busse said.

Hoff tied his season-best mark of 13-06 in the pole vault and eclipsed 160 feet in the javelin. He ran back-and-forth between the high jump and javelin in order to try and win both.

He finished second in the high jump, clearing the bar at 6-feet.

“It is a lot, but I love it and I enjoy it,” Hoff said. “If I was only doing one event, It’d be too boring for me. I’m going to work consistently on jumping 13-06.”

Back problems have hampered Hoff’s ability to throw javelin and it creates a domino effect with the pole vault and high jump. Still, with how Hoff performed in javelin, the door is completely closed.

“It is still (an) option,” Hoff said. “I’m hoping to be able to save myself for the end of the season.”

With two-plus weeks until league, Hoff is inside the top-eight in all three of the events.

“We take it day-by-day,” Jansen Guiliani said. “Do what he has to do and it is way easier at state. I know that he’s been progressing and getting better.”

Hayden Niemi triumphed in the 300 hurdles for the Bearcats while their 400 relay blitzed around the track in a season-best time of 44.59 seconds.

Rochester’s Gunnar Morgan swept the three distance events – 800, 1,600 and 3,200 – in a preview for his schedule in two weeks at the league meet.

He won each event by at least five seconds.

“This was more of a pre-cursor, sort of a test, before league,” Morgan said. “Honestly, (it) felt great. I was a little nervous with the wind.”

Despite a schedule that is brutal at state for those three races, Morgan is attempting to head to Tacoma in that trifecta.

“I’ll do what I can do,” he said.

Onalaska’s Isaac Fitch (400) and Napavine’s Austin Lyons (110 hurdles) picked up wins on the track. A couple PR’s were set by Rainier’s Zach Hamilton (3,200) and Rochester’s Jaden Nichols (shot put) in second place finishes.