By Doug Drowley
Special to The Seattle Times
Long-running Federal Way meet feels new again
Change can be difficult.
But after half a century, for the Bill Harris Invitational track meet, perhaps it simply was time.
“It’s kind of a reboot, in a sense,” Federal Way boys coach Chris Williams said. “We hope it grows into a Pasco Invite kind of meet.”
The Harris Invite already has history going for it.
Saturday at 10 a.m., 23 teams will convene at Federal Way Memorial Stadium for the 51st running of the meet that began in 1963 as the Federal Way Invitational.
It is the largest field in the meet’s history, and has drawn traditional powers the likes of its host Eagles, the defending boys 4A state champions, along with Lakes, O’Dea, Holy Names and Lincoln.
The Harris has drawn better this year due to a big change. This year marks the first time the meet has been run on a Saturday. When it began, the Federal Way Invite traditionally was run on a Tuesday. It had stayed on school nights every year through 2012.
Then, the meet took a year off last season.
The 2012 edition brought with it the first year of a new award – the Jean Licari Memorial Pole Vault award.
“It was more of a recognition that year,” said Bill Harris, the meet’s namesake. “I believe they will be giving plaques with her name on them this year to the boys and girls winners of the pole vault.”
Harris hired Licari as a math teacher and pole vault coach at Federal Way. Licari tragically passed away from cancer in January, 2012, Harris said, at the age of 45.
Her last year coaching was in the spring of 2011.
“She got sick during that season,” Harris said. “That was a really tough time for all of us.”
Harris has been involved with the Invitational since 1964, its second year. The Federal Way meet was the first co-ed meet in the state of Washington, according to Williams.
When Harris retired from coaching in 1996, the Federal Way Invitational was renamed after the former Federal Way coach, teacher and athletic director.
“It’s very moving to be a part of something for that long,” Harris said. “But it’s very hard for me to use the name the Bill Harris Invite. To me, it always will be the Federal Way Invite.”
Whatever name the meet goes by, Harris again will be on hand for its running on Saturday. Spectators and athletes will be able to find him helping out near the start/finish line and doing whatever he can at the rebooted meet.
“I’m hoping we can put on a really great meet that honors Bill and Jean,” Williams said.
At 23 teams, the Harris isn’t yet close to the 107 squads Pasco drew a week ago.
“It’s just getting started,” Harris said. “The thing I’m very impressed with, if you look at the field there is a “B” school, an “A” school, 3A and 4A. It’s a very good mixture. This will be a great first year.”
– Ellie Heiden won the 200 and 400 meters, and Megan Beauchene won the Mile as the Kamiakin girls raced away from the competition at the Pasco Invite last Saturday. Kamiakin scored a monsterous 109.2 points to Bothell’s runner-up total of 43.
– The Kamiakin girls victory at Pasco was the team’s third consecutive. Heiden also won her third straight Outstanding Athlete of the Meet award.
– The Arlington and Skyline girls tied atop the Larry Eason Invite standings in Snohomish with 80 points. The host Panthers were just a single point behind among the 51 teams attending, at 79.
Invitationals of Note
The sum total of Invitational meets in the state are far too numerous to mention and discuss, but there are a few we wanted to be sure folks are aware of prior to league and district meets that start the week of May 6.
May 3 – Shelton Invitational (Shelton). 74 teams. It’s the 54th year for Shelton, another iconic meet. Teams from every classification compete here, as well.
May 3 – Lake Washington Invitational (LWHS, Kirkland). 65 teams. Another long-running meet, shares this weekend with Shelton to bring 140 total schools into competition.
Who’s going where?
BYU – Ellie Heiden, Kamiakin
Cal Poly – Devon Grove, Lake Washington
UCSD – Aubrey Ward-El, Skyview
Citadel – Elizabeth Webster, Bishop Blanchet
Connecticut College – Grace Sheeran, Bellevue
Harvard – Floriane Kameni, Bellevue
Hawaii (Manoa) – Karen Bulger, Olympia
Kansas – Dorie Dalzell, Skyline; Olivia Vincent, Holy Names
Loyola Marymount – Chris Fredlund, Squalicum
Mississippi – Brooke Feldmeier, Tumwater
Montana – Jenna Dukovcic, Mark Morris
North Carolina – Logan Carroll, Gig Harbor
Notre Dame – Alex Daugherty, Skyline
Oklahoma – Hannah Cunliffe, Federal Way
Oregon State – Nicole Goecke, Prairie
Portland – Logan Orndorf, Cedarcrest
Princeton – Wolfgang Beck, Gig Harbor; Lane Russell, Tumwater
San Francisco – Quentin Purtzer, Bellarmine Prep
Seattle – Jason Cowan, Kennedy Catholic
Seattle Pacific – Sophie Carroll, Central Kitsap
Stanford – Isaiah Brandt-Sims, Wenatchee
Washington U. (St. Louis) – Audrey Western, University
Washington – Megan Beauchene, Kamiakin; Rose Christen, Central Kitsap; Hannah Derby, Bellarmine Prep; Lyndsay Leatherman, Arlington; Denham Patricelli, Tahoma
WSU – Jonathan Green, Ephrata; Zachary Smith, Olympic
Weber State – Emily Morgan, Columbia River
William & Mary – Jaren Sinsheimer, Bellarmine Prep
William Jewell – Elizabeth Stevenson, Port Angeles
Wisconsin – Joe Hardy, Seattle Prep; Kai Wilmot, North Central
Know an athlete committed to college for track and field? Email Doug Drowley at email@example.com.