Rogers High School junior Eric Simpson said he refuses to let the disappointment of last May affect his performance on the track this spring.
Simpson turned in a blistering time of 14.50 seconds in the prelims of the Class 4A state 110-meter hurdles race in Tacoma last year and was primed for a better time in the finals.
But it never happened.
Simpson false-started in the finals and was disqualified. Auburn Riverside’s Andrey Zadneprovskiy won the state championship in the event in 14.69.
Simpson displayed class and humility following the mishap and vowed to redeem himself in 2013.
“I see it as getting back there and finishing what I started,” he said. “This year is all about getting back there and getting to the finals, and actually making it to the end of the race.”
Rams head coach Danny Carlson said Simpson possesses a tireless work ethic.
“Eric trained all winter long and worked really hard in the weight room,” Carlson said. “He expects a lot out of himself. He worked on getting stronger and faster. He is pretty pumped about getting the season started right now.”
Simpson, who focuses solely on track, said he poured his energy into gaining muscle and explosiveness in the past nine months.
“I have been working on hurdle drills since the fall,” he said. “I actually worked out with a couple of the basketball players during their offseason. We were in the weight room a lot this winter.”
Carlson said Simpson wants to break Nate Robinson’s state meet-record 13.85 when the former Washington Husky and NBA player was at Rainier Beach High School in 2002. Simpson has two years left to try.
“It is a lofty goal,” Carlson said. “I was impressed he even knew that Nate Robinson had the state record overall. Eric knows where that level is, and he’d like to get to that kind of elite level, too.
“He wants to get in that 14.0 or 14.1 range. That is where he ultimately wants to be this year. I’m not going to say that he can’t do it, especially for how well he did as a sophomore last year. The sky is the limit for him.”
Simpson thinks Robinson’s record is within his reach.
“I feel like it is going to be a challenge to get there, but I feel I can make it if I stay focused and stay with it,” he said. “I feel it’s attainable.”
This will only be Simpson’s fifth year of competing in track and field.
“I picked up the sport in seventh grade at Ballou Junior High School,” he said. “It is the only sport I play. People tried to get me out for football a few years ago. I told them I’m not big enough for that.”