By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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TACOMA — Jolene Millsap is traveling from Port Angeles to Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma for less than 40 seconds of competition.
Track and field athletes from Port Angeles and Sequim will conclude their seasons at the Class 2A state meet, which begins today and ends Saturday at Mount Tahoma.
There, Millsap will run in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes.
The Port Angeles senior's best time in the 100 is 12.37 seconds, and her top 200 time is 25.60 seconds — 37.97 combined seconds.
That's quick work, but it has taken months and years of preparation for Millsap to become one of the top sprinters in the state.
“If I want to accomplish a goal I'm going to work hard to achieve my goal,” Millsap said after practice this week.
“My dream is to win the state title, so if I set my goal then I just push myself to work that much harder to go get it.”
This is the third consecutive year Millsap has run the 100 and 200 at the state meet.
Last year, Millsap, who has signed to run track and cross country at Olympic College in Bremerton, reached the podium for the first time by taking seventh in the 100.
She has worked the entire year since the 2013 state meet to get even faster.
Not only are there sprinting exercises like running on stairs. There also are long runs and weightlifting and other strength and conditioning exercises.
Longtime Port Angeles track and field coach Bill Tiderman said Millsap has a rare level of dedication.
“She is really focused on this. You won't find an athlete around here — any sport, boy or girl — that works harder than Jolene, and you'll find very few that work as hard,” Tiderman said.
“Definitely no one's ever been in this program that's worked harder than she has.
“There have been a couple maybe that worked as hard, but no one that has worked harder.”
Millsap is hoping that after the state meet, no Port Angeles sprinter has run faster.
With her time of 12.37 in the 100 at last weekend's West Central District meet brought Millsap within two-hundreths of a second of school record holder Chantea Watson, who ran a 12.35 in 2004.
“My goal is to medal at state, be in the top five, and break the school record,” Millsap said.
Millsap enters the state meet ranked fourth in Class 2A in the 100 and eighth in the 200, but she is conceding nothing to the runners with better times.
“It doesn't change my approach. I just work hard for it. Because it's any given day,” she said.
“Just because it says that time doesn't mean they're going to run that time. You just go push yourself because you can beat them, they might have a bad day.
“So, it's all mental. If you think, 'Oh, yeah, I'm not going to be able to do this,' then you're pretty much screwed. You have to think, 'I'm going to do this and I'm going to try my hardest to PR or get this certain time.'”
A pair of area javelin throwers, Brittany Norberg of Port Angeles and Alex Barry of Sequim, destroyed their previous personal records at the West Central District meet in Sumner last week.
Barry, a junior, topped his previous best by over 15 feet with a throw of 181 feet and 11 inches.
According to Sequim coach Brad Moore, Barry was dialed in for the entire district meet, with all of his throws clearing 175 feet.
Moore said has been waiting for such a breakout by Barry.
“I've been telling him for weeks he is close to throwing 180,” Moore said.
“And then he goes an proves me right, which is always nice.”
And there's more distance in the future.
“He could go 190 [feet],” Moore said.
Barry is now ranked second in Class 2A, so he enters the state meet as one of the favorites to medal.
Norberg's throw, which beat her previous personal record by 5 feet and 7 inches, came at the perfect time.
Going into her final throw at districts, Norberg was in sixth place, one spot from advancing to state.
“I went out there and said, 'This is my last throw ever. You just have to do everything you've learned. Don't way attention to those other girls, you just do what you need to do,'” Norberg said.
With her throw of 118-11, Norberg placed second at the district meet.
She also moved up from fifth to second place in the Port Angeles record books for javelin.
Norberg, who also made it to state with the Roughriders' volleyball and basketball teams this year, is eyeing a spot on the podium.
“I'm ranked in the middle of the pack, and I think it would be awesome to place,” she said.
“I just really want to place. It's my senior year, this will be my third time to state this year. I'm trying to go out with a bang.”
Others going to state
Besides Millsap and Norberg, Port Angeles is sending three other athletes to state.
Willow Suess, a sophomore, will be competing in the 800-meter run for the second consecutive year.
Zoe Owens-Clawson, a junior making her first state appearance, will compete in the triple jump.
Peter Butler is the lone Port Angeles boys going to state. He will run the 3,200.
Sequim is sending 12 athletes, in addition to Barry.
For the Sequim girls, sophomore Waverly Shreffler will run the 400, and senior Sarah Hutchison will battle for a spot in the podium in the pole vault.
Hutchison recently returned from an injury, which caused her to not compete in her other events, such as the hurdles.
“For a senior kid, we wanted to give her every opportunity to get on the podium in her best event,” Moore said of the decision for Hutchison to focus on the pole vault.
The Wolves also have a 4x400-meter relay team, which Moore said will be made up of Shreffler, Hannah Hudson, Gretchen Happe, Heidi Vereide or Sarah Hutchison.
For the Sequim boys, Oscar Herrera is a double qualifier for state in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
As is C.J. Daniels, who qualified in the 800 and 1,600.
Mikey Cobb will represent Sequim in the 3,200.
Dylan Chatters, a senior who has signed to run for Westminster College in Salt Lake City, will run his final race at state in the 400.
The Wolves also have three other field participants, Austin Sampson in the discus, Jackson Oliver in the high jump and Josh Cibene in the pole vault.