It all started with an Olympian noticing an unmistakable bounce.
Andrea Geubelle had not been around the Wilson High School track program very long this spring as a volunteer assistant coach. But she did notice that junior David Njeri had a special gift.
He could jump.
So, Geubelle — a member of USA Track and Field during the 2016 Rio Olympics — invited Njeri over to the jumper’s pit one day to test him in the triple jump.
In his first attempt, he jumped 43 feet.
And a new Rams triple jumper went into training.
That training culminated in a very memorable Saturday afternoon at the Class 3A West Central/Southwest bi-district championships at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
Answering a big jump from event favorite Jaylen Taylor, Njeri jumped a state-best 48 feet, 2 inches on his second attempt of finals to unexpectedly win the district crown.
Njeri also set a new WCD mark. The previous record was 47-3 3/4, set by Kennedy Catholic’s Darian Brooks in 2010.
“I can’t believe it,” said Njeri, who smashed his previous best jump by more than 4 feet. “I am out of words right now.”
Njeri, Taylor and the top five in each event advanced to next week’s state meet starting Thursday at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
One thing is clear after this meet — both Gig Harbor squads should be contenders for top-four podium finishes at the state championships.
The boys continued to show off their speed. Tides sophomore Jurrian Hering set a personal-best time of 22.29 seconds in winning the 200 meters.
“We set the taper up nice,” Hering said. “We are PR’ing in every race. All the speed we are going with will help us get on the podium.”
Two weeks ago, Tides coach Kevin Eager said he was worried about his teams’ focus. After the effort over the past two days, he now has the opposite feeling. Gig Harbor advanced 15 athletes to state.
“They were acting up a bit,” Eager said. “But this weekend, they were like racehorses in the gate. They know.”
The Gig Harbor girls might not have all the numbers of the boys, but their nucleus of Hannah Carroll (200, 400), Leahi Manthei (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Hadassah Ward (throws) and three contending relay teams give them a good chance for a high finish.
“We feel real confident,” Manthei said.
No distance runner in the state is showcasing the level of confident Lincoln’s James Mwaura is displaying right now. On Saturday, he shattered his own district record in the boys 3,200.
Setting a fast pace and taking a big lead after the first one-and-a-half laps, Mwaura won in 9:10.02, nearly 27 seconds faster than Wilson’s Parker Stachler (9:37.07).
Mwaura’s previous district record was 9:26.10, set last season.
Next week, Bonney Lake’s Dreakeanna Adair will enter the thrower’s ring as the defending girls state discus champion.
She warmed up for the season’s biggest event with a win at districts, throwing a personal-best and school-record 133-11 to edge Ward (127-11).
Adair does not feel like she necessarily is the overwhelming favorite to repeat as a state champion. She noted anyone could win.
“I am not that kind of person,” Adair said. “Everyone has their day. But I know I’ve done it before, so I can do it again.”