SPORTS: Sprinter at the head of his class

PORT ANGELES — He’s lost a step or two but Mike Macdonald always will be one of the fastest sprinters in Port Angeles High School history.

The 68-year-old Macdonald, hobbling on two bad knees as he walked down the hill from E. View Crest Avenue to the high school track Wednesday afternoon, has a school track speed record that has lasted 52 years, and frankly, will never be broken because there is no 220-yard event any more.

“I’m not as fast as I used to be,” Macdonald said with a slight smile as he ginerly stepped on the track.

Macdonald will be one of the dozens of Port Angeles High School class of 1960 graduates who will be celebrating their 50th class reunion this weekend around town and in the area.

That 1960 class has a lot to boast about, especially when it comes to sports. Classes graduating in the late 1950s and early ’60s featured some of the top athletes to compete for the Roughriders.

Macdonald was a part of that, playing wide receiver on legendary coach Jack Elway’s football team in the fall and playing forward on Elway’s varsity basketball team in winter.

It was in spring, though, that Macdonald really made a mark that stuck, breaking the school 220-yard record with a time of 22 seconds flat twice before he graduated.

Pacific Lutheran standout

Then he excelled at Pacific Lutheran University playing football and running track.

But his high-water mark came in high school.

No one in 52 years has broken the track record, but right now Macdonald would like just to walk a few feet without pain.

Macdonald, a high school track coach at Bethel High School in Spanaway since 1965, has had bad knees for months now.

He was scheduled for an operation in late winter but realized track season was right around the corner and decided to hold off.

“That was a mistake,” he said.

What was minor pain flared into solar-fierce pain that causes the standout track star to limp around.

He will have his right knee replaced Sept. 20 and will get the left knee replaced later.

The bad knees is more than just running in track for many years, Macdonald’s middle son, Mark, said.

“Dad is always on the go, always going nonstop in everything,” said Mark, who not only followed in his father’s footsteps but surpassed his father in track, and is now the sprint coach for Washington State University.

Where Mike Macdonald finished a best seventh in state for track, his son captured a state championship in the 110-meter high hurdles while being coached by his dad at Bethel High School.

Mark also went on to WSU where he was an All-American in the 400 hurdles and he competed in the 400 hurdles at the 1992 Olympic Trials.

“He surpassed me in speed,” Mike Macdonald said. “For whatever reason, we were blessed with universal speed, especially Mark.”

His son agrees about the speed in the family.

“We just have it in our genes.”

Mike Macdonald also has oldest son, Tim, and youngest son, Andy, both who never went on to make speed records but have been standout athletes in other sports, especially basketball.

But there is one thing that Mike Macdonald is more proud of than his school sprint record.

That’s his nine varsity letters in three sports while at Port Angeles High School.

“That was unusual for the time,” he said.

That may be but an old Roughrider teammate, Sonny Luke, an outstanding athlete in his own right, still remembers his time with Macdonald on the track.

“It’s just an honor with me to run track with the guy,” Luke said about Macdonald.

There was one race Luke especially remembers.

The Riders were going against the East Bremerton Knights (now the Bremerton Knights) and state-record holder Lyle Bakken, who went on to excel at Washington.

Bakken, than a senior, anchored the Knights’ relay team while Macdonald anchored the Riders’ relay team as a sophomore.

Luke, also a sophomore, ran the second leg and was able to watch the Bakken-Macdonald showdown.

“They both received their batons at the same time and Mike beat Lyle Bakken by half a step,” Luke said.

“I will never forget that.”

While that particular race may be one of the best in Rider track history, Macdonald would just love to get around this weekend’s reunion festivities painless.

While that wish probably won’t be granted, Macdonald would be happy just to see some of his classmates that he hasn’t seen in years.

“I’m looking forward to seeing my classmates,” he said.

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