Puyallup: Sports

Sumner hurdler Riley wants momentum to carry into state meet

Sumner High hurdler Josh Riley feels right at home when it comes to racing at Sunset Chev Stadium, the Spartans’ home track.

But it’s a different story when the junior leaves his friendly confines.

“I feel very comfortable racing here as I set my (personal records) here,” Riley said. “This year, I want to take that momentum and have more success away from home.”

Last year at the Class 2A South Puget Sound League meet, Riley set his personal marks in both the 110- (16.02 seconds) and the 300-meter (39.98) hurdles events.

Riley was the top finisher in the 300 hurdles, and finished third in the 110 hurdles. Riley hit another personal best in the 110 (15.7) the next week at the district meet.

Sunset Chev Stadium was kind to the junior during his sophomore season. But the district meet was the last the junior saw of his home track as he headed off to state meet at Mount Tahoma Stadium in Tacoma.

“I remember it was more crowded than I was used to,” Riley said about his experience at state last year. “I didn’t race well … I just wasn’t at my best at state.”

Riley didn’t place in either the 110- or the 300-meter hurdles at state, leaving the junior with much to prove this season.

This year, Riley has been on a mission to make it back to state and prove that last year was an aberration. All offseason long, Riley has been improving, and the results are already showing.

Riley has already hit personal marks in the high jump (6-6) and the long jump (16-2 1/2).

“That speaks for Josh — he’s always been that way,” boys track coach Maurice Dudley said. “He comes from a pedigree of Riley’s … they’ve always been stellar athletes and leaders. That’s just how Josh is. He’s motivated and gets others motivated around him.”

Often the first to arrive and one of the last to leave practice at Sunset Chev Stadium, Riley’s dedication to improve is almost unparalleled.

During spring break and in the morning hours, Riley was seen with a group of athletes from both of Sumner’s boys and girls track teams, leading warm-ups and stretches.

“It’s hard getting up and coming out here,” Riley said. “But I’ll do anything I can to improve and help my team improve.”

“It’s hard finding motivation in the morning,” Dudley said. “Sumner is a family here, so we’re here all trying to work like one together.”

As the month turns and inches closer to sub-districts and then districts, Riley has the chance to redeem himself and carry the momentum he gains at his home stadium and into the state meet.

“I still want to place — I still want to place really high up there,” Riley said.

For this Spartan hurdler, it comes down to what he does at Mount Tahoma Stadium come May.