Gig Harbor High junior Bradley Peloquin is a pretty fast runner.
He’s turned himself into one of the state’s best distance runners in his first two years of high school. As a sophomore, he took sixth in the Class 3A state cross country meet in Pasco with a time of 15 minutes, 57.60 seconds.
But Peloquin might never have run faster than he did this past summer while visiting his older brother, Casey, in Anchorage, Alaska.
The brothers went for a hike and encountered a grizzly bear on the trail.
“That was pretty intense,” Peloquin said. “I just turned around and ran. I was in a forest area, but I was pretty close to the road, so as soon as I saw it, I headed back to the road.”
Peloquin’s sixth-place finish in Pasco last winter cemented him as one of the state’s top runners a season ago. Maybe he can conjure up a mental image of that bear to crack into the top five this year.
“It was a good race,” Peloquin said. “I remember the race went out really hard. I was nervous, I was only a mile in and I was really tired. We all kind of slowed down. In state normally, you run really fast. No one ran that fast because we all went out really hard. It was cool to get on the podium.”
And now heading into this season, Peloquin has a new sense of confidence.
“It just shows that I can do this,” he said. “Going into that race, I wasn’t sure if I was able to. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. Now that I know I can do that, it gives me a lot of confidence. I’ve done it before and I can do it again.”
New Gig Harbor coach Andrew Walker has been impressed with the intensity and work ethic Peloquin brings to training.
“I got to work a ton with him during the summer,” Walker said. “He knows the deal with training. He’s got a good sense, having so many older siblings that have done the real deal. He knows how to train. He’s been running 60, 70 miles a week. He’s got a good engine. We’re working on his foot speed a little bit.”
Peloquin said he’s learned how to settle down a bit before races.
“I used to get so worked up going into races, getting so nervous about the race,” Peloquin said. “Just going in, I know I’ll have adrenaline. I’m not trying to create nerves. Going into it and being really relaxed — that’s been the difference for me.”
Peloquin hopes to stay healthy and have a strong and productive season this fall.
“Not getting injured is the biggest key,” he said. “If you do, you lose fitness, have to take time off. So I think that’s the biggest thing. And just trusting all the training you’ve put in.”
Gig Harbor cross country opens its season in Tacoma at 10 a.m. Sept. 9 at the Bellarmine Invitational.