Stewart, Curran lead Federal Way blitz at SPSLs

todd.milles@thenewstribune.comMay 17, 2014 

Federal Way High School held its senior award ceremony Wednesday — right after the start of the 4A South Puget Sound League track and field championships.

To the surprise of few, the awards were swept by one boy headed off to an NCAA Division I program.

To the surprise of many, it was not Keenan Curran, a track star and News Tribune All-Area safety in football.

Instead the nod went to Mitch Stewart.

A University of Washington signee for men’s tennis, Stewart showed just how versatile — and ultracompetitive — he is in the 800-meter run Friday.

Going out very fast, Stewart ended up posting a personal-best 1 minute, 54.93 seconds as the league meet wrapped up at French Field in Kent.

He not only took over the lead in the West Central District, but he also has the fourth-fastest mark in the state this season. And his postrace jubilation showed a little something to teammates about how invested he is in this sport — and this school.

“Mitch’s spirit rubs off on all of us,” Curran said.

Look at the state leaders in track, and the 4A SPSL has flashed as much high-end quality as any league in Washington. It occupies the top mark in nine events statewide, regardless of classification.

Needless to say, Stewart is competing against much slower competition. He sprinted out to a big lead and came through the first lap in 55 seconds.

“I was hyped,” Stewart said. “After the first lap ... I just kind of coasted the next 200, then took off a little more. It felt good. It was like a sprint for me finally.”

When Stewart’s name was brought to his attention, Curran grinned.

“He won the athlete of the year ... and I was the runner-up. A lot of people thought, ‘Oh, Keenan is mad.’ Then it dawned on me that he lost one tennis match his whole high school career.

“We are lucky to have an athlete like him. People say I am an athlete, but Mitch can do just as much as I can do, if not more.”

Other developments:

 • Emerald Ridge’s ShaRaya Quinn just keeps getting faster in the 300 hurdles. She lowered her state-leading time to 42.99 — more than a second faster than Steilacoom’s Amanda Jaynes.

And the scary thing is that when she gets off in her steps, she feels comfortable going over the hurdle with either leg.

“I have ambidextrous legs, I don’t know,” Quinn said with a laugh.

 • Then there was the blur in Lane 6 in the girls heat of the 200. It was Federal Way’s Hannah Cunliffe, who is battling back from a knee injury that had sidelined her since March.

The state 100 leader, she now owns the top mark in the 200 as well — in 24.53.

“I am tired. I mean, I feel like I am going ... closer to 80 percent to what I was doing in March,” said Cunliffe, an Oklahoma signee. “I am going to have to work with it. There is nothing I can do. Injuries happen.”

4A NOTES

State boys pole vault leader Tucker Mjelde (15 feet, 6 inches) won the league title at 15-0. ... Federal Way’s Tyson Penn went a season-best 47-71/2 in the boys triple jump to win the SPSL crown and tie Curran for the No. 2 mark in the state. ... In his first season doing hurdles, Curran (39.49) edged Rogers’ Eric Simpson (39.78) in the 300 hurdles. Simpson has the top time in the 110 hurdles (14.11). ... Tahoma’s Delaney Tiernan won the girls 800 in 2:19.78, making her the only athlete, boy or girl, to win three SPSL titles. She also won the 1,600 and 3,200. ... Federal Way won a combined 13 events.

NISQUALLY 1A

They grown them big in Eatonville, and none are better in the state at throwing the shot put than junior Justin Kaelin.

Kaelin added to his top mark by throwing 58 feet, 41/2 inches to win the shot put at the Nisqually 1A track and field championships at Eatonville High School. His previous state-leading throw was 58-2.

The Eatonville boys (2171/2 points) and girls (145) swept the team titles.

Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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