Whiteaker track team takes both All-City crowns

From left to right: Cassius Hernandez, Ethan Wollangk, Pawit Potisuk and Pawat Potisuk show off their first place ribbons after winning the 7th grade boys 4×100 relay at the All-City meet on Tuesday, May 14 (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Scott Coburn has been coaching different sports at Whiteaker Middle School for nearly 30 years. 

Last week, the Wolverines track and field squad was able to achieve something that had never happened in Coburn’s tenure with the school. 

After finishing the dual season undefeated, both of Whiteaker’s boys and girls teams won the All-City track meet at on Tuesday, May 14 at Sprague High School. The girls scored 146 points for the event and sent 18 athletes to the podium, while the boys team scored 125 points and had 15 athletes place. 

“It was one of our most successful seasons of all time,” Coburn said. “This was a team that really pulled together and always supported each other. They showed a lot of heart this season.”

“There is some natural, God-given talent on this team. Our kids were competing well at every grade level and in every event.”

After not coming out for track last year, Lillian Besa concluded her incredibly successful season with a victory in the discus with a throw of 84-feet-5-inches. 

“She felt so so good about herself after she won all-city,” Coburn said. “Lillian has been getting better all year and she just did a super job.”

While Besa earned the lone victory for the Whiteaker girls, the rest of the squad was able to pile up a number of high finishes throughout the meet — the Wolverines gained six second place finishes to go along with a trio of third place finishes.

Avery Buss placed second in the seventh-grade 100-meter race with a time of 14.12 seconds, and also finished second in the long jump with a new personal-best of 14-feet-10-inches.

Although she finished in third, Aspynn Westby broke the Whiteaker school record in the 1500m — which has stood for 14 years — with her personal-best time of 5:28.42.

“We just try and love our kids and encourage them to do the best that they possibly can, and the kids really have responded to that,” Coburn said. 

Coming into the meet, Whiteaker’s boys seventh grade 4×100 relay team hadn’t lost a race all season. But they sure made their final city race of the season an exciting one. 

As the relay went into the final turn, the Wolverines were actually sitting in second, trailing Parrish. But Whiteaker anchor Pawat Potisuk took the baton from his twin brother, Pawit, and caught Demari Thompson from behind, crossing the finish-line just two-tenths of a second ahead of the Parrish sprinter, and bringing home the victory for Whiteaker. 

“It was one of the most exciting races of the day,” Coburn said. “People in the stands were jumping around. It was really cool to see those boys celebrate together.”

Braiden Copeland was the only multiple-event winner for Whiteaker as he earned a pair of wins in both the long jump (16-11) and high jump (5-8).

“Braiden’s athletic ability really showed on that day,” Coburn said. “He showed calmness and stayed within himself, which was a big factor for him.”

Whiteaker’s other individual winner on the boys side was Darius Afalava, who was victorious in the sixth grade shot put (39.10.5)

While Coburn was very pleased with his team’s success, he was also thrilled to share that 175 kids came out for the team this season, and almost all of them showed significant improvement. 

“Throughout the season, we had kids improve from being one of the slowest kids on the team to being a middle-of-the-road kid on the track. That’s a wonderful success too.”