Last year, Gig Harbor returned to the top of the state’s track and field programs by winning the Class 4A boys championship for the first time since 2007.
This spring, the Gig Harbor girls may accomplish the feat. The Tides didn’t lose a single athlete from a squad that scored 36 points and placed fourth at Star Track XXX last May.
However, there’s one big obstacle in Gig Harbor’s path as it tries to win a state title for the first time in six years: defending champion Curtis, which is likely just as good, if not better than 2012, Tides coach Kevin Eager said.
“We hold them in high esteem,” Eager said. “But we don’t award trophies before the season, so our goal is to compete for that (title), and we have a lot of talented girls.”
Courtney Jost, who has signed to compete next year at the University of Utah, likely will have to repeat her phenomenal junior-season performance for the Tides to triumph.
Jost has earned five state medals in the past two seasons, including three top-three finishes last year — third in the long jump (18 feet, 7 1/2 inches), second in the high jump (5-6) and first in the triple jump (a school-record 39-4 1/2).
Jost doesn’t see many weaknesses when she looks at her squad.
“There’s great distance runners, great jumpers, great hurdlers,” she said. “Just all around, we have a pretty strong team, and definitely over winter training, we had a pretty big group. So hopefully the work we put in over the winter will show and pay off come postseason time.”
Jost will have the task of helping lead next year’s jumpers, and senior Dallas Edge will do likewise with the hurdlers.
Edge is a two-time state medalist in the 100-meter hurdles, including a third-place effort of 15.54 seconds last season. She did it despite a knee injury that required surgery in November.
Health is no longer an issue, she said, and she’s steadily built her training regimen back to the point where she’s no longer behind her teammates.
Now she’s perfecting techniques.
Edge also hopes she can make an impact in the 300 hurdles, an event she skipped entirely in 2012.
“Leaving off sophomore year with a 46.46, that was a pretty good time, and I hardly had any training,” she said. “Now that I’ve got the fitness in, and I know how to hurdle pretty well, I’d say that’s going to be a good event for me this year, and I’m excited to see it play out.”
Sammi Markham, a senior, will try to improve her eighth-place state finish in the shot put (38-1 1/2). She was 11th in the javelin (121-4).
The Tides have a fourth returning medalist in sophomore distance runner Brenna Peloquin. She’s still nursing a leg injury that derailed her cross-country season, but Eager hopes she can compete at some point.
Gig Harbor will need a deep pool of sprinters to reach its full potential. Elly Aronson, a potential freshman standout, joins seniors Julia Sahlin, Kate Frame, Charlotte Dennis and Sara Meisburger.
Sprinters should power the Gig Harbor boys, who won the 2012 state title but lost medalists Justin Browne, Will Drinkwater and Tyler Ambrose.
“To be perfectly honest, our goal is still to be a (top-four) podium team,” Eager said of the boys. “We have multiple outstanding distance runners. We have young kids again coming in that we’re trying to integrate in.”
Lucas Strong and Garret Steuk were part of a 400-meter relay squad that nearly set a state record, and they both could contend for individual medals in the 100 dash.
Steuk’s accomplishments were more remarkable considering he tore a knee ligament during his sophomore football season, then ran through the pain before he hurt it again last fall. Following surgery, he seems to be ready again, Eager said.
The distance corps includes three previous state qualifiers in Wolfgang Beck, Logan Carroll and Tristan Peloquin, and they’ll have a lot of depth behind them.
Without Ambrose, a state runner-up in the shot put, the Tides will look to sophomore Charlie Dahlstrom to make big strides in the throwing events.
“He’s a big boy,” Eager said. “He’s gotten a lot stronger, and he’s improving a lot.”Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.