In one of Alison Corsi’s first hurdle races as a freshman at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, things didn’t exactly go according to plan.
Corsi didn’t just fall once in front of the huge crowd. She fell twice.
"It was intimidating; I was really scared," recalled Corsi, now a senior at Gig Harbor High.
Coach Kevin Eager, who described Corsi as a "spazzy" freshman, said she was a late entry in the race due to some last-minute dropouts for the Tides.
"She smacks one (hurdle) and goes down," Eager said. "She gets up and the race is just gone. She gets up and she’s like, ‘I’m not going to be the kid that walks off.’ So she just tried to jump over the last hurdle and just eats it — wham!"
What Corsi remembers most is the crowd’s reaction.
"I could just hear the whole crowd go, ‘Ooh,’" she said. "It just echoed."
Painful, embarrassing? Sure. But it was good to get that out the way so Corsi could realize her immense potential. Now, she’s one of the state’s finest hurdlers.
"It made me a lot less scared now," Corsi said. "I got some crazy stuff under my belt. It was just a whole rush of emotion and then I kind of realized it’s not that big of a deal."
Corsi has worked relentlessly in the offseason to have her best year yet. She’s been in the weight room nearly every day, doing all the right things and leading the other girls on the team. For Eager, one of his favorite parts of his job is seeing athletes mature. While he has to tell freshmen what to do, maturity brings a different dynamic to the coach-athlete relationship.
"When kids are young, you’re an authority figure who’s telling them what to do," Eager said. "When they do the work, you become a collaborator in their success. It’s neat when you see that here. You have that trust relationship ... that’s where she’s at right now."
Corsi took 11th in the 100-meter hurdles (15.57 seconds) at the Class 4A state meet a season ago, disappointing by her own standards. This year, she’s hoping to finish higher.
"It was pretty devastating," she said. "I just realized after what I could have done. That’s been my motivation since September — or even right after we stopped. It’s motivation to stay focused and do the stuff that will make you better in the long run."
On the boys side, the Tides are anchored by star senior distance runner Tristan Peloquin, a University of Portland cross-country commit. Senior Charlie Dahlstrom, a state participant his freshman and sophomore years as shot put and discus thrower, is hoping to get back to the state tournament in his final year.
"Last year was kind of rough for me," Dahlstrom said. "I had a lot of mental problems. I’d get into the ring and think a lot more than I should be throwing. At the beginning of the year I was doing well and then I started to put a lot of pressure on myself. At the end of the year, I started falling apart."
Trying to carry the load for the team and put up points weighed on him a bit last year, he said. This year, Dahlstrom is shifting his approach.
"I’ve been focusing on trying to have fun with it, and the good marks will come from that instead of thinking I have to go far and score points," Dahlstrom said. "It’s time to have fun. This is my last year, I’m just going to enjoy it when I can. It’s a lot more relaxing instead of being all tense and worried."
He’s also put South Kitsap’s star sophomore Nolan Van Amen in his sights.
"He’s really good," Dahlstrom said. "Last year, as a freshman, he threw over 160 (feet) in discus. I just want to beat him… It’d be kind of nice to flip it around on him and see what happens when someone beats him."