The Panthers’ 400 is the fastest time in Class 2A going into state meet
WASHOUGAL — They have a song in mind when they prepare to compete.
Three words in the title, three words to remind them how to do the most important job in their event.
The Washougal boys 400-relay team has broken the school record a few times this season, and they hope to do it again Saturday at the Class 2A state track and field championships.
Kenny Kanthak starts the relay with the baton in his hand.
“Set the tone, go out strong, and try to stay as calm as possible,” Kanthak said. “When I hand off to Arcey, stay calm and do what we always do in practice.”
Arcey Harton takes the second leg for the Panthers and takes off down the backstretch.
“If I get it to Brig with the perfect hand-off, we’re going to keep breaking records,” Harton said.
“It’s been a fun year,” said Brig Griffin, who runs the third leg. “If I get it to Ryan and we’re in first or second, I just know we’re going to win. That guy’s not letting anyone get past him.”
“They get it to me, and I just try to maintain it,” said Ryan Davy, the anchor. “They’ve been good at passing everybody before it gets to me. I haven’t had to run anybody down. They do a good enough job that I don’t have a difficult job.”
“Ice, Ice, Baby” they call it, referring to the 1990 song by Vanilla Ice. That is the exchange for the fastest relay team in Class 2A. The Panthers go into the state championships as the top seed in the event, with a time of 42.94 seconds.
Davy also has a top-10 speed in the 100 and is No. 3 in the 200, the two individual events he is competing in this week at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
Interestingly, if he could hit, he would not be on the track and field team at all. He played baseball as a freshman.
“I was a good baserunner,” Davy said. “Other than that, I wasn’t that good. I couldn’t get on base, so that didn’t help.”
Oh yeah. That matters.
So he joined track as a sophomore.
“He was just a kid from band,” Kanthak recalled.
Then Davy blew everyone away with his speed.
“Everybody was shocked at first,” Davy said.
It was the beginning of something special. A few years later, four Panthers have a shot at a state title.
Kanthak, Harton, and Davy are seniors. Griffin is a sophomore. So they know as a group, this is it.
This season, the Panthers say there was only one race when an opposing team was side by side with Davy once he got the baton.
Of course, there will be more competition at state than in league. The Panthers are not getting ahead of themselves. The difference between the No. 1 team and the No. 2 team is .02 seconds. It is the 400, after all. It is a blur.
“I want to leave it on the table no matter what,” Kanthak said. “Whether we get first place or last place, if I know everyone did all they could, I’ll be OK with it. Just leave it on the table.”
They have not given any thought to how they will react should they win a state title.
“I’m more focused on my grades,” Kanthak said (and somewhere a teacher at Washougal is smiling).
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Davy said of the possibility of finishing first.
Right now, they are just happy to have one more meet together, and they hope two more races — Friday’s preliminary and a Saturday final.
Track and field might be a traditional individual sport, but this relay team is a squad. They hang out together, share meals, talk, text, all of it.
“This is one of the most connected brotherhoods I’ve been with,” Griffin said.
“That’s actually so true,” Harton said.
This team gets to sing an old song one final week.