High School Sports

Track and field: Lakes’ Isaac Swillie leaping, running way to an amazing comeback

Isaac Swillie almost lost it when the doctor stuck his thumb in Swillie’s mouth.

The senior at Lakes High School was trying another in a long line of physical therapy remedies. All because Swillie’s left hamstring cost him the chance at competing in the 4A state track and field championships last year.

He went to Dr. Bruce Davis at the Center for Structural Medicine in Edmonds for cranial sacral therapy, which involves massaging of points on the skull to treat other parts of the body. The doctor put his thumb in Swillie’s mouth and told him to breath in.

“I was just trying not to laugh,” Swillie said. “I was like, ‘What’s going on right now?’ ”

Swillie also takes ice and Epsom Salt baths. He started getting acupuncture last summer, and he’s got a massage table in his TV room, where he regularly gets massages from his mother, Joni, who was a former massage therapist.

Swillie gets some of his athleticism from his father, Charles, who graduated from Lakes in 1978 and was a starting cornerback at the University of Idaho.

Swillie placed fifth in the 100-meter dash at the state meet as a Bellarmine Prep sophomore before transferring to Lakes, and he recorded a state-qualifying mark in the long jump at last year’s 3A/2A West Central/Southwest bidistrict meet in May.

The 100 meters was next.

He said his left hamstring tightened up about 50 meters into the finals race. He still finished — but in eighth with a time of 24.56 seconds — but he knew his season was over.

“I was OK with it at first because I was thinking: ‘There is always next year,’ ” Swillie said. “But then, going into the state meet and just watching, that’s when I realized just how much of a bummer it was. I was supposed to be there. So to not be able to be in it was tough.”

It not only cost Swillie, but Lakes as a team, too.

“It was a heartbreaker,” Lakes coach Willis Freeman said. “He was basically our heartbeat. He anchored our 4x100 relay team and he was right there in the 100, 200 and the long jump.

“He was just starting to hit his stride and then that injury came. … He could have been right up there, one or two, with Budda (Baker of Bellevue in the 100).”

Swillie then re-injured the hamstring competing in a USA Track and Field event in June at Kent-Meridian High School — this time while competing in the long jump.

One of the problems: Swillie discovered his right leg was a half-inch shorter than his left, which meant he was putting more pressure on his left leg.

Swillie said the cranial sacral therapy he underwent about a month ago corrected that.

“He never even touched my leg,” Swillie said. “He had me doing these breathing things and I had to move my eyes back and forth and he would find the pressure points on my head. But then they tested out my legs and they were the same length again.”

Mac Downing, also a Lakes senior and Swillie’s good friend, decided not to compete for the track and field team this year to focus on learning sports medicine. He’s worked with Swillie often, mostly on strengthening the muscles in his legs.

He said Swillie’s hamstring is still a problem.

“He probably wasn’t flexible in his quads, he wasn’t flexible in his hip flexors,” Downing said. “And they probably weren’t strong.”

“That is true, that is true,” Swillie said, laughing.

“So that was putting more stress on his hamstring,” Downing said. “We are still working on getting more strength in his legs.”

Swillie also decided to stop playing basketball. He had played for Lakes the previous year (there’s a video on YouTube of him catching an alley-oop for a dunk) but he also wanted to try indoor track for the first time.

He still takes the ice baths and said he’ll get acupuncture and massages from his mom before big meets.

“As long as it helps me stay healthy, I don’t care,” Swillie said. “There were times she would be in there and it would just hurt and I’m like, ‘Stop! That’s too hard. You have to stop.’ ”

Swillie’s mom said he is just too ticklish.

“That was another factor,” Swillie said. “But it’s something I can deal with now.”

He begins his warmup about 45 minutes before his race, stretching out his hamstrings with a massage stick and foam roller the first 15 minutes.

All because Swillie didn’t really care for sitting in the grandstands during the state meet last year. He’d rather be competing for a state medal.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

BOYS TRACK AND FIELD

TEAM TO BEAT

Federal Way can be the first in state history to have its boys and girls teams win consecutive back-to-back-to-back state team titles, though it will have to do so without Tyson Penn, who won the state high jump and triple jump titles last year but transferred to Bellevue in the summer. The Eagles have the top returner in the shot put (Jared Pulu) and Chico McClatcher should contend for a long jump title.

5 ATHLETES TO WATCH

Name Team Year Events
Justin Kaelin Eatonville senior Shot put, discus
Jonah Mathews Fife senior 100, 200
Jason Palmer Bellarmine junior 400
Isaac Swillie Lakes senior 100, 200, long jump

Had state’s top shot-put mark last year (58 feet, 4.5 inches) even though he’s from little ol’ Eatonville.

Jonah Mathews Fife Senior 100, 200

Top returner in the 2A 100-meter dash after placing fourth last year. Was also fourth in the 200.

Jason Palmer Federal Way Junior 400

Took third place in the 4A 400-meter dash and was also part of third-place 4x400 relay team.

Isaac Swillie Lakes Senior 100, 200, long jump

Should contend for multiple state titles as long as he’s not hampered by his hamstring.

Jack Yearian Bellarmine Prep Junior 800, 1,600

Bright future. Placed third in the 800-meter and second in the 1,600 as a sophomore.

BEST OF THE REST

4A: Ammon Auna, Todd Beamer, sr. (400); Chico McClatcher, Federal Way, sr. (long jump); Tristan Peloquin, Gig Harbor, sr. (1600, 3200); Jared Pulu, Federal Way, sr. (shot put); James Rodeman, Yelm, sr. (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Cristian Rotter, Auburn Mountainview, jr. (1600, 3200); Mason Salle, Federal Way, jr. (triple jump); Brandon Stribling, Kentwood, sr. (100; long jump); Nolan VanAmen, South Kitsap, soph. (discus); Matthew Wells, Emerald Ridge, sr. (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles);

3A: Ryan Chase, Capital, sr. (long jump, triple jump); Hudson Keffer, Central Kitsap, sr. (javelin); Austin Kilcup, Peninsula, sr. (javelin); Trevon Powe, Wilson, sr. (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Gavin Robertson, Auburn Mountainview, jr. (triple jump); Austin Schweyen, Bonney Lake, jr. (pole vault); Hayden Smith, Peninsula, sr. (discus); Flynn Walker, Lincoln, jr. (400);

2A: George Bluhm, Franklin Pierce, sr. (shot put, Dejuan Frye, River Ridge, sr. (100, 200, 400); Stephan Hull, Franklin Pierce, sr. (1600, 3200); Tyresse Lucero, Fife, sr. (discus); Ika Morton, River Ridge, sr. (long jump, triple jump);

1A/2B/1B: Logan Moose, Eatonville, jr. (high jump, long jump); Ron Stephens, Mount Rainier Lutheran, sr. (100); Theo Tel, Mount Rainier Lutheran, sr. (200, 400, long jump)

GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD

TEAM TO BEAT

Two-time defending team champion Federal Way no longer has super-sprinter Hannah Cunliffe, who won the 100- and 200-meter titles last year before going to Oklahoma, where she was named Big 12 Female co-Freshman of the Year this year. But the Eagles still return plenty of key pieces, including Mariyah Vongsaveng, who can win her fourth hurdles title, and Gabriela Pelogi and Karis Cameron should contend in the sprints.

5 ATHLETES TO WATCH

NAME TEAM YEAR EVENTS
Saudia James-Heard Curtis Freshman 400, long, triple

Went to Texas and set USATF Junior Olympic meet record in triple jump with leap of 38 feet, 8.75 inches in July.

K.C. Moulden Enumclaw Senior Shot put, discus

Won the 3A state shot put title last year and last month won her third state wrestling title.

Brenna Peloquin Gig Harbor Senior 1,600, 3,200

Coach Kevin Eager said the returning 3,200 state champion is the best the school has ever had.

Mariyah Vongsaveng Federal Way SEnior 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles

Has won or been part of six state titles (three hurdles, three relays) not including two team titles.

Brittni Williams Auburn Riverside Senior Long jump, triple jump

Hopes to end her career with a title in jumping event just like sister Brandi did (long jump, 2011)

BEST OF THE REST

4A: Karis Cameron, Federal Way, sr. (200); Lauren Dickson, Gig Harbor, sr. (shot put); Michaela McDougal, Bellarmine Prep, sr. (pole vault); Gabriela Pelogi, Federal Way, sr. (100); Avalyne Peters, Kentlake, jr. (high jump); Brooke Peterson, Emerald Ridge, jr. (high jump); Alexis Scott-Ellis, Curtis, fr. (triple jump); Delaney Tiernan, Tahoma, sr. (1600, 3200); Tia Thomas, Federal Way, sr. (pole vault); Parris Watson, Decatur, jr. (shot put, discus);

3A: Samantha Bourdreau, Bonney Lake, jr. (shot put); Rhaven Dean, Sumner, soph. (javelin); Aleea Gwerder, Enumclaw, jr. (long jump); Payton McGuinn, Capital, sr. (800); Alyssa Murray, Sumner, sr. (800); Lauren Pierson, Capital, sr. (1600,, 3200); Starr Rodenhurst, Central Kitsap, jr. (javelin)

2A: Lauren Ericks, Tumwater, jr. (1600); Peggy Johnston, River Ridge, sr. (shot put, discus); Brenna Liebel, White River, sr. (800); Patryce McWilliams, Franklin Pierce, sr. (1600, 3200); Courtney Morton, Fife, soph. (discus); Zykera Rice, Clover Park, sr. (high jump; triple jump); Peyton Russell, Tumwater, jr. (long jump, triple jump); Regan West, Steilacoom, jr. (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Alexi Whatley, Orting, sr. (400).

1A/2B/1B: Ashley Brooks, Tacoma Baptist, jr. (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Taylor Hoffman, Mount Rainier Lutheran, jr. (100, 200); Daisey Newman, Eatonville, sr. (shot put, discus); Marie Vetter, Mount Rainier Lutheran, sr. (200, 400).

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