The swagger Sumner High sophomore Rhaven Dean displays can be considered brash.
But once that javelin takes flight, people know she’s for real. This kid can chuck it like no other girl in the state.
Over the weekend, in Sumner’s dual meet with Bonney Lake, Dean let loose a throw of 135 feet, 6 inches to claim the state’s top ranking in Class 3A. At this point in her career, that placement means everything for Dean.
“It’s a little weird and it’s hard for me to grab onto,” Dean said. “It’s just weird to think that I’m (a sophomore) and I’m above people who have been throwing longer than me … so it’s just strange to me.”
Strange territory or not, this is right where the Sumner sophomore wants to be heading into the sub-district meet this weekend at her home track, Sunset Chev Stadium.
“She’s a hard worker and is always out here dedicating her time to improve,” Sumner javelin coach Antoinette Scoles said. “She’s always asking for ways to improve.”
For many young athletes, the last three weeks of the season can be a crushing time on their spirits. As eyes draw upon them and talent rises, many can wither under those pressure-packed conditions. But for Dean, it’s something she embraces.
“I normally don’t have nerves when I throw — I appreciate when people watch me, which is weird,” Dean added. “I don’t really feel the pressure.”
If the pressure of the crowd doesn’t get to her, then maybe — just maybe — the competition will.
“Sometimes when I’m facing people who step up and throw as far as me, the nerves will kick in,” she said. “I have fantastic teammates and when they’re there, no fear. No fear.”
At the 39th annual Lake Washington Girls Invite on May 2, Dean took first place in the javelin with a throw of 133 feet, 10 inches. That throw came on her last turn.
In the finals, it was between Dean and Kalama High’s Kaelyn Shipley, who had already hit a longer personal best of 133 feet, 5 inches. On Dean’s second to last throw, she slipped during her run, letting loose a throw that didn’t satisfy the sophomore.
“I felt that throw could have been a new tournament record,” Dean said.
Right before she stepped up for her final attempt, Dean approached Scoles for a last-second advance, but all she got was encouragement.
“I just told her, ‘Rhav, just rip it and go get it,” Scoles said.
Dean stepped up and let loose a throw to win the invite, only one of many wins the sophomore aims to claim this season.
“I want to win state — why not?” Dean said. “I want to take this all the way up to college if I can.”
A morning Spartan
Kolby Nikolaisen is one tired teenager when he walks the halls of Sumner High during the school day. It’s not hard to blame the junior if he finds time to doze now and then.
He’s a morning warrior because he’s up at the crack of dawn with pole vaulting coach Mike Fitzpatrick. These morning workouts are a testament to Nikolaisen’s dedication to become the best athlete he can achieve.
Even if he has to be grouchy while doing it.
“You know, I’m not a morning person in the first place — definitely not,” Nikolaisen joked. “But pole vaulting is a passion I’ve grown to love. There’s nothing better than coming out and flying 14 feet in the air and falling on a cloud.”
Right now, Nikolaisen’s best mark has been 14 feet flat, which is tied for fourth for the boys in state. That mark was set April 30 against Lakes, which is a foot and a half better than his best as a sophomore at state.
“Last year his best was 12 feet, 6 inches, which he set at state,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s a pretty fast kid. He’s strong ... he’s been weight lifting for football.”
Now that postseason action is up, Fitzpatrick believes the more time he spends with Nikolaisen, the better this junior will get. Nikolaisen believes the same thing will happen, but no matter what the outcomes are these next three weeks, the junior is prepared.
“Some of these guys pole vault all year round, which I’ve never had the pleasure of doing,” Nikolaisen said. “They’re pole vaulting two feet higher than me … it sets you a goal, so next year I can challenge these guys.”