Emerald Ridge High junior Jared Budzinski has the potential to do great things this year in the 800-meters.
The facts speak for themselves.
This season, Budzinski tops the South Puget Sound League in the 800 with a time of 1 minute, 56.68 seconds. His time also has him ranked No. 2 in the West Central District — just behind South Kitsap’s Mason Villarma (1:54.02). He’s also ranked sixth in the state in Class 4A.
And Budzinski is just getting started.
“Every single time I’m out here, it’s a personal fight — I want to beat myself,” Budzinski said. “I just want to try and PR (person record) every time. If you don’t then it’s, ‘It’s a good workout, let’s try harder next time.’ It’s that kind of mindset.”
It’s the trait of being determined to reach greatness seen at every practice or every meet that has Emerald Ridge track coach Bob Frey take a different approach with Budzinski early in the season.
As the junior tends to have a deep drive that can push him, Frey and assistant coach Pat Mullen have held their stellar runner back in the 800 early this season, tapping into Budzinski’s other natural decathlon abilities.
“We had a plan to hold Jared back in the 800 early to conserve his energy for later in the season,” Frey said. “It’s a hard race on a runner … instead, we decided to bring out his athleticism in other events like 400-meter and the discus. But we think he can be great in the 800-meter — he has that potential.”
Budzinki’s ranked 10th in discus in WCD with a distance of 133 feet, 4 inches, while his 4x400 meter relay team ranks eighth (3:31.52). Budzinski’s time of 52.64 in the 400 ranks fourth in the SPSL South, but is nearly a second out of contention in districts.
With the real start of the season just beginning, Budzinski now plans to turn things up and try to get himself qualified in as many events heading into districts.
It’s that drive to be the best athlete he can be.
“I don’t want to hit my marks early in the season. I want to start getting better with each meet we have left,” Budzinski said. “I don’t want to hit my PRs early and then start to fade towards the end of the season. I want to be getting faster now.”
Emerald Ridge freshman Mareonna Henderson had some serious shoes to jump into — or hurdle — coming into the girls track season.
With the graduated ShaRaya Quinn now hurdling for Washington State, Henderson came into track season green. Not since sixth grade has Henderson participated in track.
“That doesn’t count,” Henderson said of her junior high years competing at track. “My friend Karlee (Stueckle) told me to join the hurdles team with her and so I did.”
And all Henderson has done is show a tremendous amount of potential in the 300-meter hurdles.
On her second time racing the 300 hurdles, Henderson clocked a time of 46.31 seconds, which good enough for No. 6 in state in 4A. Henderson’s teammate and fellow freshman Karlee Stueckle sits in fourth (44.80) in state.
“The great thing about the girls ahead of them in state (is that they) are all seniors and they’re freshman,” Frey said.
So much potential is in front of Henderson. Right now, the only person in front of her after this season is Stueckle, her friend and reason for being on Emerald Ridge’s hurdles team.
“Karlee is really good and just makes it seem easy,” Henderson said. “I just try to do my best out there.”
If doing her best produces the results she has produced this early, then there’s an incredible future for this Jaguar. And she won’t be alone.
“I’m just happy I get to be out here racing with and competing with my friends,” Henderson added.