High School Sports

Thought last year was the end of Tahoma’s track and field dynasty? Guess again

Tahoma’s Aliya Wilson finishes the 4A girls 4x100 event at the Track and Field Championships at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday, May 27, 2017.
Tahoma’s Aliya Wilson finishes the 4A girls 4x100 event at the Track and Field Championships at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday, May 27, 2017. jbessex@gateline.com

There was a reckoning moment for the Tahoma High School girls 400-meter relay.

The realization? Despite losing two members of its state-record setting team in 2017 to graduation, the drop off has been minimal.

“I think it happened at (the) Pasco (Invitational),” Alisha “Miya” Wislon said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, we’re there.' I think that was the most surprising or shocking moment for me.”

The incumbents, Miya and her twin sister, Aliya “Nami” Wilson, were joined this season by a freshman Adaji Osaro-Igwe and a sophomore hurdler, Alaina Brady.

They are again the favorites to capture the 4x100 relay title this season at the Class 4A track and field championships at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma this weekend.

The Wilson twins, their older sister Tierra, and Olivia Ribera, ran the fastest time in state history (46.09 seconds) in the preliminaries last season.

This new foursome enters Thursday with a qualifying time of 46.77, set at the 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict championships on May 17 in Kent. The Bears’ top competition, Curtis, boasts a best mark of 47.81.

What’s the secret to Tahoma's 4x100 formula? It’s not just because they’re all fast.

“You can’t just put together four fast kids and put together a relay. There has to be a relationship there as well," coach Jeff Brady said.

"They spend a lot of time together. You see them in the hallways at school and they’re just having fun hanging out. It’s more than just track and field.”

The proverbial leader of the group is Nami, who also happens to be the fastest. She is the defending 4A state champion in the 100, took third in the 200 last year, and runs anchor for the Bears’ relay.

“She’s probably that mother hen,” Brady said. “She pulls them along and keeps them in line.”

But it’s the new members that have allowed the Bears to continue to run blistering-fast times.

Osaro-Igwe wasn’t an unknown commodity, having won the 100 and 200 at last year’s middle school conference championships, and training with the Wilsons and Brady over the summer.

Osaro-Igwe’s shy and reserved demeanor didn’t stand her out at first. But that changed quickly after her teammates saw her run the first meet of the season.

“I saw her run and I was like, ‘Oh, OK. That’s why she’s on the relay,’ ” Alisha said.

Born and raised in Maple Valley, Osaro-Igwe has witnessed the tremendous sprinting talent to come through the Tahoma program in recent years. Now that’s she’s a part of it, it’s been a thrilling experience.

“It was a little bit intimidating,” Osaro-Igwe said. “Because I heard about a lot of these girls and how fast they were. … But once I got to know them, it became less intimidating and it became fun.”

The freshman is seeded third in the 100 with a qualifying time of 12.14 and comes in the with the second-fastest time in the 200 at 24.76.

Nami is the top seed in both events, with times of 11.90 and 24.54, respectively.

The season will extend way past state meet for Nami.

She is competing for team National Scholastic Athletes Foundation for an international Junior meet at Grand Bahama Stadium in Freeport, Bahamas on June 2, and will compete at the Brooks PR Invitational, a national event hosted at Shoreline Stadium on June 8.

“She deserves it because she put in some much work into it,” her twin sister said. “Everyday during the school year, she puts everything and her heart into every practice and all. She’s really committed. She deserves everything she gets.”

Miya and Brady are not participating on the Bears’ other sprint relay, the 4x200, to focus on their other individual events.

Both are in the field for the 100 hurdles and the long jump, while Brady will compete in the 300 hurdles and Miya will join her sister in the 100.

Brady is the top seed in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.18 and second in the 300-meter hurdles at 43.55. Miya is seeded fourth in the long jump at 18 feet, 6 inches.

Senior Kylee Swartz and freshman Ashley Hollenbeck will join Osaro-Igwe and Nami on the 4x200 relay, which is the top seed at 1:41.82.

The Bears’ 4x200 was edged by Union — led by Jai'lyn and Dai'lyn Merriweather, who are now freshmen at Maryland — by less than a second last season.

Tahoma, which won the 4A girls team title over Union, 91-56, last season, is in a good position to repeat.

In addition to their sprinters and hurdlers, the Bears have several more state qualifiers, including senior Breanna Glover (800 and 1,600), juniors Bryanna Rogers (high jump and long jump) and Laena Tieng (pole vault and triple jump) and freshman Britten Ikeomu (javelin).

For Nami, Miya, Osara-Igwe and Brady, they are ecstatic to see what they can do in the 4x100 this season — and for years to come.

“It’s really exciting, because I think a lot people thought last year was the end of Tahoma’s 4x100 relay,” Nami said. “But we came back and showed them we aren’t going anywhere, and we’re definitely competition you need to look out for.”