PORT ANGELES — Some of the North Olympic Peninsula’s top track and field athletes are preparing for this weekend’s state championship meets in their own unique ways.
Port Angeles distance runner Lauren Larson elected to just keep running after setting personal records in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs for the second consecutive postseason meet.
A sophomore, Larson won all three events at the Class 2A West Central District Championship last Friday and Saturday and added a fifth-place overall finish in the women’s 12-kilometer (7.45-mile) Rhody Run in Port Townsend on Sunday.
“It wasn’t something she brought up at practice and it’s not something I would have suggested, but we adjusted her practice plan this week and she’ll do great,” Port Angeles track coach Rodger Johnson said.
“She’s also a kid — she’s run it in the past and loves to do community races.”
Larson holds the top girls 2A time in the state in the 800, is third in the 1,600 and fifth in the 3,200, so chances are she’ll place well for Port Angeles at the 2A meet today through Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
“When we saw her [in middle school] we said this girls is the real deal,” Johnson said. “She’s super coachable and a real student of the sport too — she reads about running, tracks her own running data. A great teammate, super positive.”
Larson will run the 1,600 tonight, the 800 on Saturday morning and the 3,200 at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.
Sophomore Myra Walker will appear on and off stage this weekend for the Riders.
Walker holds the seventh-best shot put mark in Class 2A and is part of the cast of the school play, Brothers’ Grimm Spectaculathon which premieres tonight and runs through Sunday at the school’s Performing Arts Center.
“She is performing in the play Friday night, driving down to compete Saturday morning in the shot put and heading back to be in the play Saturday night,” Johnson said.
“She’s another all-around super athletic kid. Myra didn’t do track last year but came out and has been super coachable, super positive. Really dedicated. She’s involved in theater, basketball and balances it all really well.”
Roughriders sophomore Millie Long is fresh off setting a school record in the 100 hurdles and breaking her own school-best in the 300 hurdles. She’also compete at state in the long jump.
Long’s time of 15.24 seconds in the 100 hurdles broke the seven-year old mark of 15.6 previously set by Cece Stevenson. Long also re-set her 300 hurdle record last weekend with a time of 45.41.
That time is the fastest 300 hurdles time in 2A, her 100 is fifth-best and her long jump is seventh.
“Millie is an all-around superathlete kind of a kid,” Johnson said. “She picks the events she likes and she does well in them. With her you feel like she could pick up an event like the pole vault and start pole vaulting and by the end of the season qualify for state.”
Liam Clark is the lone Port Angeles boys athlete to reach the state meet. He’ll compete in the triple, long and high jumps for the Riders.
Sequim’s boys team captured its first West Central District track and field championship since 1987 last weekend.
“I think the kids are ready,” Wolves coach Brad Moore said. “Collectively, they are competing at a very high level and I think they will do very well.”
Senior Murray Bingham holds the top 800 time amongst 2A boys and is second in the 1,600. Bingham also competes on the Wolves’ 4×400 relay team which has the third-fastest time entering the state meet.
“He has this internal drive, this fortitude and perseverance,” Moore said. “Every day he is working hard. He never takes a day off and he’s been extremely focused this year. He’s talented and has the speed, but he has put in the work to make sure his times have come down. He broke the school record in the 800 (1:55.13).
Bingham is a big contributor to the success of the 4×400 relay team, which includes Alec Shingleton, Bingham, Darren Salazar and Logan Laxson.
“He does a fantastic job on the relay team,” Moore said. “At districts, he got the baton from Alec and he stretched the lead and really pulled away for us.
Salazar set a school record in the 100 (10.82) and is tied for the fourth-fastest sprint in the state.
“You don’t look at him and think he’s massive like you do with some of the other sprinters,” Moore said. “Some of those guys are really burly looking, but Darren is definitely stronger. From a technique standpoint he’s getting better every year and it’s been fun to see him reach and get more of a sense of where his potential may lie.
Salazar also has the fourth-best 200 time for 2A sprinters. “The 200 has been his better event this season and even last season, but you can see that speed coming through in the 100 as well.”
Wolves’ freshman Riley Pyeatt broke the school’s 400-meter record (58.41) at the league championships two weekends ago, a record held by Jill Anderson in 1987.
“The [high school] season is longer and you train over a longer period of time, so we were able to do more with her this season. She came in pretty good shape from cross country and basketball, and Coach Hayden and the sprint crew built her up pretty well. She works hard and does everything a coach can ask.
“I think she will run even faster yet this season.”
Other competitors to watch include Sequim’s Riley Cowan in the javelin and Fischer Jensen and Riley Martin in the hurdles; Port Townsend’s Nathan Cantrell in the 1,600 and 3,200 and Forks’ Luke Dahlgren in the discus.
Clallam Bay’s Miriam Wonderly and Hannah Olson also will wrap standout careers at the Class 1B state meet today through Saturday at Eastern Washington University in Cheney.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]