Emerald Ridge High hurdler Karlee Stueckle came into the Class 4A state track and field championships at Mount Tahoma Stadium looking to break freshman records.
What she walked away with wasn’t quite as sweet as rewriting the record books, but something far greater than reaching those numbers: A determination to come back better than ever.
“I was sick last Sunday (May 24) with a 101 temperature,” Stueckle said after the 300-meter hurdles finals on Saturday. “My legs felt heavy when I ran.”
But there were no excuses for this upcoming hurdles star. After all, goals weren’t met and a lot records are waiting to be taken down.
“I want to come back here next year and get to first place,” Stueckle said.
There will be extra motivation for Stueckle after she finished in fifth place in the 300 hurdles with a time of 44.42 seconds. State champion and senior Darhian Mills (Inglemoor) tied Kayla Stueckle’s record of 42.13 seconds, set in 2009.
Stueckle also took seventh in the 100 hurdles (15.13) on Friday.
Rams nearly pull off upset
Right from the start, the Rogers Rams were flying around the track.
And the end happened in a flash — well, 100 meters — but as Rogers senior Tyliah Fort sprinted toward the finish of the girls 4x100-meter relay finals, it nearly became a state shocker.
As the Rams’ anchor, Fort was able to blow by both Issaquah and Union, leaving her neck and neck with leader Lewis and Clark. And one lunge forward nearly crowned the Rogers team state champions.
“(My teammates) told me to lean in at the end,” Fort said.
The team of Tammy Kayongo, Jelanie Heath, Shaiyenne Monroe and Fort finished in second place with a time of 48.58, behind state champions Lewis and Clark, which finished with a time of 48.53.
“It was a lot of adrenaline, and I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever ran,” Kayango said.
The Rogers girls 4x200 relay team also took fourth with a time of 1:42.46.
“A lot of the Rogers boys that finished the season were cheering me on, so I just had a lot of adrenaline and just pushed myself,” Heath said.
Now there’s high expectations on the relay team heading into next season after earning two placements at state over the weekend. Losing both Kayango and Fort will hurt the Rams, but it’s a challenge the remaining girls will take on heading into the offseason.
“I’m very confident now and I hope we can run as well next year,” said Monroe, a junior.
Stirring the Vikings
Puyallup High’s girls 4x200-meter relay team was not happy with its seventh-place finish. Especially not when your school rival — Rogers High — took fourth place ahead of them.
Not even a solid time of 1:43.98 appeases team members. The team of Saige Lyons, Kendra Windham, Grace Bley and Haley Smith were left unsettled with the results.
“We’re all very competitive people and believe we should have done better — we didn’t even (set a) PR (personal record),” Lyons said. “We’re happy to reach the podium; we’re just not satisfied.”
Now looms an offseason to mull over the results, which will leave Puyallup’s team hungry for next year. The results of this year’s state championships might sting, but the prospects of the future leave Lyons smiling.
“We’re a young team that’s motivated now,” she said. “We have pretty much everyone coming back.”
And that’s a striking proposition, but one for another year.
Thacker takes third
Rogers’ Malaina Thacker has been building up steam heading into the 4A state track and field championships. At the beginning of the season, state was a far off aspiration, one that might have taken a year longer to reach.
Thacker, a sophomore, didn’t want to wait a year to reach Mount Tahoma Stadium in the 800-meters, and the wait was much shorter to get that podium and place at state.
“I had nothing to lose, and I had to give it my all,” Thacker said after her third-place finish in the 800. “On that last corner I just worked as hard as I could. I don’t know how that happened.”
What happened was Thacker jumping the pack, moving from sixth place and into the top three finishers the last 100 meters of the race. Thacker’s finished time of 2:13.23.
State champion Keagan Bolibol of Woodinville will be gone next year, so Thacker’s top challengers will be freshmen Sami Corman of Issaquah (second place) and Brooke Manson of Eastlake (fourth) next year.
“I definitely now know where my bar is and I just need to keep pushing and raising (that) bar,” Thacker said.