When Troi Carter walked onto the track field at Gig Harbor High School her freshman year, she didn’t say much.
“(She was) a kid that literally couldn’t talk because she was so shy when she was younger,” said Tides track coach Kevin Eager.
Times have changed. With the graduation of some of the key leaders the past couple seasons in winter workouts, someone had to step up. Carter at first seemed like an unlikely candidate. But she showed up every day, and over time, came out of her shell and became a leader.
“She just did it,” Eager said. “It wasn’t a natural fit for her — she just started doing because she saw, ‘Oh, this is what has to be done.’ She’s put all the work in and has been super consistent.”
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Consistency — that’s been the key for Carter, now a senior.
I was showing up to every practice, working, lifting, doing more than I did my sophomore year.
Troi Carter, Gig Harbor sprinter
“I was showing up to every practice, working, lifting, doing more than I did my sophomore year,” Carter said.
She also changed her diet, cutting out snacking and fast foods and replacing them with fruits and vegetables.
“Garbage in, garbage out,” Carter said. “It’s not good to have junk food in your body at all. It just makes a big difference, especially when you’re running, getting sideaches and cramps. It made a big difference.”
The combination of consistent training and a healthier, more natural diet paid dividends for Carter during her junior season. She became the Narrows 4A champion in the 100 meter, recording a time of 12.86 seconds. She followed that up with a personal record of 12.66 at the district meet, missing the state cut by .03 seconds. Her times have dropped significantly from her 2013 freshman times, where she averaged close to 14 seconds for the 100.
She’s also improved her technique and is running smarter, according to Eager. Turns out, sometimes the coach knows what he’s talking about.
Running is so mental. Once you switch that mental focus, one little thing makes a big difference in your running.
“I have to follow what he says,” Carter said. “It’s pretty hard, because you have to actually listen to what he says. Running is so mental. Once you switch that mental focus, one little thing makes a big difference in your running.”
Running faster and smarter is something Eager has repeatedly emphasized to Carter over her high school career.
“She’s turned into a better technical runner,” Eager said. “She’s kind of instinctual. That happens to a lot of kids, the gun goes off and their brain turns off. There’s very specific things they have to execute. You have to able to execute and not lose your mind.”
Maybe taking up guitar helped Carter overcome her shyness. She took it up three years ago, and regularly plays Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and other classic rock. She’s also in the Running Start program and plans to follow in her mother’s footsteps, running track at Central Washington University next year.
But for now, her focus is on getting to the state meet this season and leaving her mark on the program.
“It’s another goal I can reach,” Carter said. “I like setting goals and reaching them.”