Puyallup High junior Grace Bley is determined to leave her mark on the Vikings’ track program this season.
It shouldn’t be too much of a task for Bley as she has a rare quality that few female runners possess, coach Ken Fleisch believes.
It’s an attitude of do-everything-I-can with no remorse, or in Bley’s case, without thinking twice about it.
"I just like to stay fit," Bley said. "I do CrossFit to keep in shape during the offseason … I never really thought about how it would help during track."
Offseason CrossFit training has the Puyallup junior in the best shape of her life. It was noticeable from day one with Fleisch — where other girls began to tire, Bley was ready for more.
"Core fitness matters when it comes to building endurance for track," Fleisch said. "Grace put in a lot of work in the offseason … she’s just starting to peak right now. Because of that work, I believe she has a real good chance at districts this year."
Right now in the 200-meter sprint, Bley’s time of 25.90 seconds ranks second in the West Central District behind Tahoma sprinter Olivia Ribera (24.96). Bley also ranks sixth in the 100-meter (12.76). Teammate Saige Lyons ranks fourth (12.73) in the 100.
"Honestly, I just want to reach my individual goals," Bley said.
All the numbers, in terms of district rankings, don’t matter to Bley. She’s driven by an inner desire to achieve what believes she can accomplish.
It’s a frame of mind that goes beyond the individual. For Bley, it always goes to how she can help push and make Puyallup girls track a dominant program.
"I don’t want to predict the future," she said. "All I just want to say is I want to help my team to reach our goals."
"We hope the girls see how hard Grace works during the season and outside of it," Fleisch said. "Maybe they’ll try to capture what she’s done and join her."
Close relations, long distance
Sophomore identical twins Sarah and Rachel Kastama have a lot in common with one another. Honestly, it can be hard to tell the two apart. Whether it’s their looks or mannerisms, these two could switch roles and no one would be the wiser.
Except on the track.
"They’re both very shy and nervous before a race," senior Mary Josten said. "When the race starts, they just fly."
In both the 1,600- (5 minutes, 20.95 seconds) and 3,200-meter races (11:29.78), Rachel ranks fourth in the district. The three girls who rank ahead of her — Brenna Peloquin (Gig Harbor), Delaney Tiernan and Alice Jensen (Tahoma) — are all seniors this year.
As Rachel tops both events in league rankings, Sarah has seen how talented her sister is, a fact of growing up together and always competing with one another.
"I’ve never not had a day where Rachel wasn’t in my life," Sarah said. "I like to think we push each other … I’m just proud of her."
"I just want to make districts together as a team," Rachel said. "It would be more fun running with them there and competing with them."
Currently, Sarah ranks fifth in the 1,600 (5:40.06) and seventh in the 3,200 (12:21.87). Josten ranks fifth in league in the 3,200 (12:11.86).
"I don’t care if they passed me," Josten said. "I used to be by myself in these races, but they gave me company this year and made it fun. I’m proud of them."