Puyallup: Sports

Sumner High girls relay team reflects on accomplishments

Even with the Class 3A state track and field championship ending more than a week ago, stories are still pouring in from the three-day event at Mount Tahoma Stadium.

Sumner High’s girls 4x400-meter relay team taking third place in the event on May 30 at the very end of a long weekend. Entering the race, the team of Emma Bakke, Rachel Stowell, Emma Sjolund and Alyssa Murray were beaten.

Beaten by the length of the state tournament, and beaten by the heat of the sun overhead. But this race meant everything to these girls — it was the last one.

“It’s our last race, and we just wanted to go all out,” Sjolund said.

The last ones can sometimes be all an athlete needs to accomplish a goal. These Spartans did just that with their third-place time of 4 minutes, 0.18 seconds. They finished right behind champion Lynnwood (3:56.40) and second-place finisher Enumclaw (3:58.59).

“I knew in my first 200 (meters) that those girls were really fast,” Murray said. “I wanted to stay up with them, but you have to know yourself … As I was moving closer and closer (to the leaders), I was thinking ‘I got it.’”

It’s that drive to want to get into the top three placements on the podium, Murray said. As Sumner’s anchor in the 4x400 relay, Murray raced from the mid-pack of the group and found her way, speeding toward the leaders.

Driven to finish with the Spartans’ best time of the season and her career, Murray nearly eclipsed Enumclaw in the final leg of the race.

“It’s just that competition of wanting to get there,” she said.

It’s hard to see from the stands what drives an athlete. Even from the sidelines — right there at the start and at the finish — it’s often missed.

The exuberance an athlete shows — similar to what Bakke displayed — help us understand their mindset, even just a little. No, Sumner did not walk away with a state championship, and the girls didn’t even reach the podium in their other relays.

Yet something was accomplished with this team that left these girls smiling. Sore? Sure. But happy to accomplish something they’ve strived for all season long.

“It’s pretty (darn) good with it our first year (in 3A),” Bakke said. “And we ran a faster time than we did last year — I’m fine with that. We worked hard as a team, tried our best and God did the rest.”

Little accomplishments can mean so much for some.

For Sumner’s relay team, it was about setting a tone for the future while helping send off two of Sumner’s greatest athletes ever in Murray and Stowell with another accomplishment.

And after the race, while being sore, beaten and bruised — while going through the worst gut-busting feeling imaginable — these girls were thrilled.

The soreness they felt after that race under the blistering sun at Mount Tahoma Stadium, it truly was a special time for the Spartans.

“This is a pretty special group of girls,” Sumner coach Kristin Chapman once said.

Especially when it mattered most.