Gig Harbor’s Tatum Griffin discusses senior track season
After qualifying for the Class 3A state meet in the 100-meters as a sophomore, Tatum Griffin figured she’d just go ahead and do it again as a junior.
But while the sprinter excelled on multiple relays for the Tides at the state meet, she came up short of qualifying for the event last year.
“I made it to state as a sophomore and just kind of thought I’d do it all over again,” Griffin said. “I didn’t put as much effort into it as I did previously. I realized this year that I need to really focus up.”
Griffin has been a model of consistency as a senior, coming in below 13 seconds nearly every time she has ran the 100, including a season-best 12.67-second performance at the Shelton Invitational on April 27.
“I honestly wasn’t really expecting to do well that day,” Griffin said. “While we were warming up, there was a terrible headwind, so I didn’t really know how it was going to go. I wasn’t really expecting much and I wasn’t really thinking about it, so I think that actually made me run better. I wasn’t super in my head or really nervous.”
Not over-thinking things has been Griffin’s biggest hurdle as a runner, especially with her starts.
“I have no reaction time,” Griffin said with a laugh. “I can’t push myself out very much and don’t have a lot of strength with that.”
So she tweaked her start, going from two hands in the ground to just one. To Gig Harbor track coach Kevin Eager, the new-look start has been helpful, but it ultimately comes down to Griffin clearing her head.
“She’s always had a problem with thinking too much in the blocks,” Eager said. “She’s sitting there thinking about things while everyone else just empties their heads and goes. But she’s been more consistent this year.”
Eager said Griffin thrives in the relays, as it’s more fluid and less mental. Griffin anchors Gig Harbor’s 400- and 800-meter teams, which are currently among the state’s best.
“She’s an incredible relay runner,” Eager said. “I can’t tell you how many times she’s gotten that baton for us and just gotten it done.”
Griffin has been one of the school’s top runners throughout her high school career. And in her final season of high school track, she’d like to get back to the state meet in the 100.
“I’m focusing, working on my technique at practice,” she said. “I really try to take the time and work on getting out of my start fast. … And just working on my strides, my arms and everything and just always working, I think that will hopefully get me back to state.”
Eager said he has all the confidence in the world in his senior sprinter to get back to state in the 100.
“If she’s composed, the opportunity will be there,” Eager said. “She’s fast enough. She just has to do in on that day.”
Even if she doesn’t make it in the 100, Griffin will be a key part of at least two relay teams at the state meet, and possibly three, if the team qualifies in the 1,600. Even with the loss of LSU signee Hannah Carroll this spring due to injury, the 400 relay team of Griffin, Ashley Aldridge, Madison Bonham and Gabriela Sandoval is among the state’s best.
“We’ve all really stepped up this year,” Griffin said. “Knowing we don’t have (Carroll), it motivates us to make up that time. If all things go well, hopefully we make it to the finals.”