Five is greater than four.
That’s the hope — and plan for the Gig Harbor High School 400-meter relay team entering this weekend’s state track and field tournament at Mount Tahoma.
Because of lingering injuries to Jurrian Hering, Tides coach Kevin Eager has added sophomore Ethan Williams to his team of Taggert Hudson, Ryan King and Jaron Carter. Hering, a member of the Gig Harbor relay team that finished second in the state in 2018 and state champ in the 110 hurdles, torn the labrum in his hip and shoulder during football season and is also dealing with a pulled hamstring that has sidelined him the last few weeks.
Eager plans to run Williams in the heats and then save Hering for the final. Hering said despite his injuries, he feels good about where the team is sitting and about their chances this weekend.
“I should be pretty good to go at state this week and I’ve been pretty bummed about not being able to run,” said Hering, who is going to Idaho on a track scholarship.
“We’re all so fast and we’re right there, a lot of teams could also be contending for the team title as well. I’m excited with how the 4x100 is doing and I think we not only have a shot to win the race but the team title as well.”
Williams, who was a member of the Tides “b” relay team, has stepped into Hering’s spot and helped maintain Gig Harbor’s spot as one of the state’s top relay teams.
“He’s been very reliable for us,” Eager said. “He’s fast and I actually projected him to be in this lineup last year. It was convenient for us because Hering got hurt the week of the Arnie Young Invite in Renton and he did really well and we won.”
The Tides finished with a winning time of 44.68, with Williams running the second leg of the race. Despite being the only underclassman on the relay team, Williams has fit right in.
“It’s almost like a coming of age-type thing,” Williams said. “I always knew I’d be running with the 4x100 team and with my age, I just show it doesn’t matter if I was a junior or a senior it’s all about how you start. After we started doing it and working with them, I felt like I actually do belong out here.
“We do have a good team and I’m just happy to help get us into position to win.”
Last week at the district meet, Williams ran in the preliminaries with Hering replacing him for the finals. The Tides clocked the fifth fastest time in the state this season at 42.65 while placing fourth behind winner Lakes, Lincoln and Prairie, who all posted season-best times.
Gig Harbor is also looking to fight off the sting of two straight second place finishes to Lakes in the event at the state meet. In 2018, Lakes beat Gig Harbor in the final, 41.68 to the Tides’ 42.76. In 2017 Lakes defeated Gig Harbor by two-tenths of a second with a time of 42.30.
Considering the history between the teams, Eager knows something special could happen on Saturday.
“The really special races happen when you get multiple teams that are kind of circling each other and we’re all waiting to get in the same heat and then it’s on,” Eager said. “Then it’s all about who blinks first, who can execute, who can rise to the occasion without losing their composure and all those sorts of things. Frankly, that’s the fun thing about the sport and this group has done a good job of embracing that.”
With the biggest race of the season looming, Eager says this group isn’t afraid to compete and looks forward Saturday.
“I’ve had kids before that were afraid to compete, every coach has,” said Eager. “This group isn’t like that but one thing we work on is telling them, it’s OK to fail so that you’re not afraid of that. (Seahawks coach) Pete Carroll says, you win some and you learn some. If you take the fail out of failure then it becomes a learning opportunity and you can say they all you want, and you just hope the kids buy into it and this group has, from day one.”