State Girls Track and Field: Murphy ‘gets in head’ to finish runner-up in high jump


YAKIMA – The pressure proved to be too much.

Even attempting to defend her state high jump title, Rainier High School junior Acacia Murphy felt the weight of the moment.

“I got in my head really fast and as soon as I’m in my head, I’m over with,” Murphy said candidly. “I can do the high jump just fine, but as soon as I’m in my head, I’m done.”

In a head-to-head battle with Walla Walla Valley’s Kienna Stepper, they both missed their three attempts at 5 feet, 4 inches and tied in total misses throughout the competition with two. The tiebreaker was missed jumps at 5-2 and Stepper needed two attempts to clear the bar to Murphy’s three.

That was the final blow in Murphy’s reign atop the Class 2B high jump on Thursday afternoon on day one of the state track and field championships at Zaepfel Stadium in Yakima.

“Just the pressure on my shoulders that I need to jump this to win,” Murphy said. “It is hard, especially when you know you can do better. I know I have 5-5 in me. I still have a senior year. I’ll be back.”

There were tears once the jumps were finished. Twice did Murphy run up to the bar at 5-4 only to stop and return to her starting tape.

After 10 straight victories, she ended the season with runner-up performances at the District 4 meet and state.

“I needed to be humbled a little bit,” Murphy said. “I was bound to have a fall at some point.”

Half of the medalists came from the C2BL.

Napavine’s Keira O’Neill finished tied for third with a best clearance of 5-0 while Winlock’s Kendyl Guenther was tied for sixth and Onalaska’s Sommer Zurinskas placed eighth.

The latter two had a best clearance of 4-10.

“That is pretty cool,” O’Neill said. “In all sports, the west side is always kind of on the lower end and these last couple of years, we’ve been having really good athletes. It shows how competitive it is during league and districts.”

O’Neill, the district champ, was perfect until the bar went up to 5-2 and she missed all of her attempts. She felt the jumps were good, but she clipped the bar on a couple of them.

“There (are) a lot of nerves that come with it,” O’Neill said. “Sometimes it doesn’t go how you want it to.”

Toledo freshman Haylee Wolfe ran a 10-second lifetime best to place fifth in the 1,600-meter run and have her first career state medal draped around her neck.

She laid down on the turf after the podium in exhaustion.

“I’m so proud,” Wolfe said. “In seventh grade, when I told my mom I want to do track next year, she kind of laughed at me. She thought I wasn’t going to be fast at all, but I proved her wrong. She is proud of me.”

In the first meet of the season, she ran over six minutes. Then she notched an 18-second PR at the Kalama Twilight and won the district title.

Her final 1,600 ended up as the school record, one that was held for 20 years.

“I was really hoping I could do it my senior year,” Wolfe said. “That was (the) biggest push for me.”

Rainier’s Anika Plowman was the best area finisher in the long jump, placing 11th with a leap of 14-07.50 while Angelica Askey just missed the podium in the mile with a ninth place performance.

Plowman also qualified for the finals in the 300 hurdles while Victoria Sancho (Winlock), Megan Price (Adna) and Murphy all qualified for Saturday’s 100-meter dash finals.