In the 2017 Class 3A state championships last spring, the Gig Harbor High School track teams had an outstanding showing. The girls took second in the state, while the boys took third.
This year, while the girls lose a bit of last year’s depth, the boys are as strong as ever and are shooting for a state title.
The boys are led by hurdler and sprinter Jurrian Hering, who established himself as one of the state’s best last season as a sophomore. Hering took second in the 110-meter hurdles at state, fifth in the 100-meter sprint and ninth in the 200.
“I want to get on top of that podium this year,” Hering said.
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It wouldn’t be a stretch for Hering, who made a dramatic jump in his sophomore season from where he was during his freshman year. He credits longtime track coach Kevin Eager with the explosion in his second season.
“I was learning how my body works,” Hering said. “I had come off a growth spurt. I was figuring myself out. Eager set out a great training program. He was trying to allow me to grow in how I run and utilize the long legs I was given to be able to accelerate fast.”
Eager said Hering will be one of the team’s leaders as a junior.
“Hering will be the one that drives us,” Eager said. “He’s the top state returner in the hurdles.”
Not that it’ll be a cakewalk to a state title, but Eager is high on his junior’s prospects.
“For myself, I feel like nothing is out of reach for me this year,” Hering said. “I feel that personally, I want to get more efficient over the hurdles. I think I can compete with the other guys to get that state title. I’m right on the cusp and I believe it’s doable this year. As a team, I feel the freshmen and sophomores could pop up, they just have to keep coming in and learning how high school track work, integrate with us and help us grow as a team.”
Gig Harbor will be strong at the top of the distance events, too. Junior Bradley Peloquin is one of the state’s top mile runners, while senior Peter Smith, who transferred from Virginia this year, looks to be a force in the 800-meter race.
“I think we have a shot (at a state title),” Hering said. “Right now, we just have to trust the process and keep working. I definitely see the talent in the group. We just have to do all the little things.”
And stay healthy.
“Last year, we didn’t stay healthy,” Eager said. “We had several kids that got banged up and if those kids don’t, we’re second easily. You just have to stay healthy to maximize your performances.”
Sophomore Braxton Porter is an impact high jumper, senior Kellen Gregory, a standout receiver on the football team for the Tides, joins the team and should make an immediate impact in long sprints and relays. Ryan King slots in as one of the team’s top sprinters.
On the girls side, Gig Harbor returns two-time state shot put champion Hadassah Ward. Ward won the title in 2016 and 2017, after taking second as a freshman in 2015. She’s also looking to challenge for the discus title this year. Junior Hannah Carroll is the 400-meter defending state champion, and is already nearing her state title wining time from last season.
“We’re not super deep on the girls side, but we have an awful good team based on the fact that we just have some really good talent,” Eager said.
Gig Harbor opened its season with a jamboree March 16. Next, Gig Harbor hosts Central Kitsap for the first league meet of the season Friday (March 23). Start time is set for 3:30 p.m.