Karlee Stueckle could get away with snagging that quick snack with few health benefits. That was before her track and field coach moved in.
“Karlee, why don’t you make something instead?” the coach says.
This also happens to be Karlee’s older sister, Kayla — an All-American from the University of Washington’s track and field team and one of the fastest girls hurdlers in Emerald Ridge High School and state history. Though Karlee better knows her big sister as the person who sat next to her in the middle bench of Stueckle family’s big blue minivan, takes her on ice cream runs to the nearby Sonic and keeps her bedroom too clean.
Now she’s coaching Karlee, a sophomore, to break those same hurdle records she once set.
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I think I’ve embraced it more than anything. She has those records, she knows how she did that and obviously she can help me.
Karlee Stueckle, Emerald Ridge sophomore on being coached by older sister Kayla Stueckle
Karlee’s soccer coach lives in that South Hill home, too. That’s her father, Dan Stueckle.
Kimmie Stueckle was back there last week for spring break. She’s a senior on the UW’s track team. And Kyle Stueckle is a senior with a .375 batting average in Emerald Ridge’s first three baseball games.
They are all at each other’s events — except when they’re competing at the same time. In that case, the Stueckle caravan splits up.
Nevertheless, Karlee is stuck with a lot of Stueckles.
2Karlee Stueckle, 16, is the baby of the family. But she placed in both the 100 hurdles (seventh) and 300 hurdles (fifth) at the 4A state meet last year and was the only freshman to do that. Like Kimmie did, Karlee says her favorite sport for now is soccer, which she has played since she was five and had 16 goals and 5 assists this past fall playing for her father. She’s considered the most goofy and happy-go-lucky of the siblings. “I think that comes from being the youngest,” Kayla said. “But she is totally someone who someone like me wishes in high school I could have had as a best friend like I had with Kimmie. She’s one of the most fun people I’ve ever met.”
And all excel at bounding hurdles.
Karlee placed seventh in the 100-meter hurdles in the 4A state championships last year and fifth in the 300 hurdles — behind first-place Darhian Mills of Inglemoor, who tied Kayla’s state meet record of 42.13 seconds in the finals and is now at UW with Kimmie, who is healing from a fractured foot.
“Karlee has so much potential to be so good,” said Kayla, who has the third-fastest 300 hurdles time in state history at 42.13 behind Mills (42.06) and Rainier Beach graduate Ginnie Powell (42.12).
“Just seeing where she was as a freshman, I wouldn’t say it scared me, but I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ ”
Just how all these Stueckles got so good at handling hurdles is a bit of a mystery to parents Dan and Heather Stueckle. Kayla, Kimmie and Karlee all took to them naturally; so did Kyle before giving them up for baseball.
.323Kyle Stueckle, 18, hit .323 in 35 games combined over his sophomore and junior years for the Emerald Ridge baseball team and he’s off to a solid start this year. He was also the kicker on the football team. But there was once a time he competed in track and field just like his three sisters. He did hurdles and shot put at Stahl Middle School. His sisters call him the quiet one of the family. “In my day I had speed, but not like they have,” said Dan Stueckle, a graduate of Tacoma Baptist. “And Kyle can hit the ball better than his dad ever did.”
Dan recalled creating a hurdle from the parts of a Ladderball Toss set for the backyard. But the backyard was barely big enough to fit one with a running start.
“I still ask myself that,” Dan said, laughing. “Honestly, it’s kind of humbling when you think about it that the Lord would bless our family in that matter. You’re wondering ‘Who am I to have a family with that kind of talent and gifts?’ Sometimes I’m just blown away by it.
“A couple of the coaches I’ve worked with and talked with said you know pretty quickly who can do it and who can’t. Our kids just got it.”
But Kayla kicked it all off. She still holds Emerald Ridge’s 300 hurdles record, followed by ShaRaya Quinn (42.81), Karlee (43.69) and Kimmie (44.57). That was before becoming a two-time All-American at UW.
5Kayla Stueckle, 24, won five state titles, including three consecutive in the 300 hurdles, at Emerald Ridge before becoming a two-time All-American at the University of Washington. Only one other athlete (Walla Walla’s Seville Broussard) has won three straight 4A 300 hurdles titles in state history. She still holds ER records in the 100 (12.09), 300 hurdles (42.13), was part of a 4x400 relay team (3:59.51) and long jump (18-1 1/4). But The News Tribune’s 2010 female athlete of the year was also a first-team forward in soccer her senior year, leading ER to an unbeaten regular season alongside younger sister Kimmie. “Kayla is very organized, very clean,” Kimmie said. “She is definitely Type A and me and Karlee are definitley not.”
Kimmie set ER’s record in the triple jump, but didn’t try hurdling until her junior year — the season after Kayla graduated.
“Kayla starting it set the precedent in our family, but I didn’t want to be in the competition with her because she is obviously very good,” Kimmie said. “I was like, ‘I need to find my own thing.’ But after she left I was like, ‘You know, maybe I could actually be good at that.’
“And then we ended up sort of competing with each other anyway when we went to college.”
Kayla, 24, and Kimmie, 22, grew up the closest of the Stueckle siblings. They shared a room growing up, shared a one-bedroom apartment when Kimmie joined Kayla at UW, and shared a room again last week while Kimmie was home on spring break – even if her mattress was on the ground.
13.93Kimberly Stueckle, 22, placed sixth in the 100 hurdles with UW last spring at the Pac-12 track and field championships with a time of 13.96 seconds before hitting 13.93 at the NCAA West Preliminaries. She still holds ER records in the triple jump (36-10 1/2), and was part of a school-record 4x100 relay (50.83) and 4x200 relay (1:43.87). But she said her first love was soccer, where she was a two-time first-team all-league pick and scored 15 goals with seven assists playing for dad Dan Stueckle her senior year. “Kim is very smart,” Kayla said. “Then when it comes to keeping your room clean — like total slob. I”m the complete opposite — OCD, perfectionist, total oldest-child type stuff. I think we all just balance each other out.”
But all were close. To their mother’s chagrin, they would turn the downstairs level at home into an indoor soccer facility, splitting teams by age (Kayla and Karlee vs. Kimmie and Kyle). On road trips, Kayla and Karlee would sit in the middle bench of the family minivan, while Kimmie and Kyle shared the back.
On Christmas Eve, they said they all sleep in the same room while Dan and Heather set out the presents.
“Karlee is that last kid of the four, so they sometimes give her grief,” Dan said. “But Karlee takes it all really well. I think my older girls would be the first to cheer her on. They are excited for her to be able to have success.”
Kayla said that is why she wanted to help coach at Emerald Ridge this year. It lost Bob Frey (a former hurdler at Washington State and now the coach at Graham-Kapowsin) and current ER coach Pat Mullin helped reach out to Kayla about joining the staff as the sprint and hurdles coach.
She also has to work around her job as a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines.
Kayla sat in the stands at Mount Tahoma High School last spring and watched as Mills tied her meet record in the finals, a day after setting the state record in the preliminaries.
“I think my hope would be that in the next few years I will be there to see it broke again. If it couldn’t be me, it’s got to be Karlee,” Kayla said. “I just see Karlee’s competitive nature and want to break my records. She’s even told me and joked about that.
“I would tell you that if it’s going to be somebody, that in her time as a high school athlete, I hope it’s her.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
BOYS TRACK AND FIELD
TEAM TO BEAT
Don’t look past the defending 4A state champions. South Kitsap swept the throw events (shot put, discus and javelin) at Mount Tahoma last year — and the last school to do that in 4A was Mead in 1998. And SK returns two-time state discus champion and reigning shot put champ Nolan VanAmen. This was the same school that placed second in the Narrows Championships (behind Olympia), then second in the West Central District Championships (behind Tahoma) before winning the state title.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
110-meter hurdles, 300 hurdles
Set sophomore state records in both the 110 hurdles (14.37) and 300 hurdles (37.40) last year
110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, high jump
Heading to Montana next year as a decathlete. Placed in three events at 3A state meet last year.
Third straight Eagle to win TJ title. Last individual to win the event back-to-back in 4A was Skyline’s Kasen Williams.
Shot Put, Discus
On pace to become just fourth three-time state discus champion and (dare it be said) first four-timer.
Reigning distance champ could become 14th to win 4A cross country, 1,600 and 3,200 in the same year.
RETURNING STATE PLACERS
4A – Aiden Basco, Mt. Rainier, jr. (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Jordan Bishop, Rogers, sr. (javelin); Caleb Brown, Tahoma, sr. (110 hurdles, long jump); Tanner Conner, Kentridge, sr. (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump); Izaiah Fields, Curtis, soph (200); Deszmon Humphries, Tahoma, sr. (discus); D’Jimon Jones, Federal Way, sr. (high jump); Connor Jost, Gig Harbor, sr. (shot put); Albert MacArthur, South Kitsap, sr. (long jump); Reeve Normandia, Todd Beamer, sr. (300 hurdles); Mason Sallee, Federal Way, sr. (triple jump); Foster Sarell, Graham-Kapowsin, jr. (shot put); Graeme Schoeder, Tahoma, sr. (800, 1,600); Nolan VanAmen, South Kitsap, jr. (shot put, discus); Jack Yearian, Bellarmine Prep, sr. (1,600, 3,200)
3A – Austin Bates, Foss, jr. (400); Cameron Carroll, Central Kitsap, sr. (800); Caleb Davis, Bonney Lake, jr. (shot put); Cole Eberly, Auburn, sr. (100); Bennett Hillier, Bonney Lake, sr. (800); Ilijah Hudson, Mt. Tahoma, jr. (400); Cody Miller, Bonney Lake, jr. (110 hurdles); Kolby Nikolaisen, Sumner, sr. (pole vault); Colton Paller, Shelton, sr. (discus); Josh Riley, Sumner, sr. (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, high jump); Zach Smith, Capital, sr. (100)
2A – Josh Braverman, River Ridge, jr. (300 hurdles); Cameron Berndson, Black Hills, sr. (javelin); Alex Coleman, River Ridge, jr. (long jump); Mark Melendres, Black Hills, sr. (100); Alejandro Snead, Washington, sr. (400); Jason Underhill, Black Hills, sr. (400)
1A – Ryan Antonson, Eatonville, jr. (javelin)
2B – Luke Bredeson, Northwest Christian, sr. (800); Corban Phillips, Northwest Christian, jr. (3,200) Luke Schilter, Northwest Christian, jr. (800, 1,600, 3,200); Lee Thibodeau, Northwest Christian, sr. (triple jump)
1B – Jonah Bond, Evergreen Lutheran, jr. (shot put); Blake Frankland, Evergreen Lutheran, sr. (high jump); Brett Henning, Evergreen Lutheran, sr. (javelin); Jake Lawrence, Evergreen Lutheran, sr. (shot put); Ryan Lorette, Evergreen Lutheran, jr. (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles)
GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD
TEAM TO BEAT
Tahoma returns two of the top track and field athletes from last year in sprinter Olivia Ribera — who left the state 4A meet with second-place medals in the 100 and 200 — and reigning shot put champion Ginny Mehl from a team that won the 4A West Central District title and placed fifth as a team at state. Both were also part of Tahoma’s volleyball and basketball teams. The key will be staying healthy and replacing some departed distance runners.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
400 meters, triple jump, long jump
Her and teammate Alexis Ellis were two of the top three freshmen triple jumpers in the nation last year.
100, 200, long jump
Getting instructions from Bears volunteer coach Princess Joy Griffey, a 2016 Olympic hopeful, this year.
Long jump, triple jump
Set the 2A state meet record with a triple jump of 40 feet, 8 inches last year for second straight title
100 hurdles, 300 hurdles
Only underclassman to place in 300 hurdles at 4A meet last year. Stage set for run to podium.
Shot put, Discus
Top three shot put marks at the 4A meet return, including Watson, who also placed third in discus.
RETURNING STATE PLACERS
4A – Jelani Heath, Rogers, jr. (long jump); Vakeaemanu Hunkin, Spanaway Lake, sr. (shot put); Kiersten Kimminau, Olympia (transfer from Northwest Christian), jr. (1,600, 3,200); Ginny Mehl, Tahoma, jr. (shot put); Avalyne Peters, Kentlake, sr. (high jump); Keeley Phommathirath, Kent-Meridian, sr. (high jump); Taylor Sterling, Thomas Jefferson, sr. (high jump); Malaina Thacker, Rogers, jr. (800, 1,600); Caila Tongco, Kent-Meridian, jr. (100 hurdles); Hadassah Ward, Gig Harbor, soph. (shot put); Parris Watson, Decatur, sr. (shot put, discus); Brittany Woke, Kentwood, sr. (long jump, triple jump)
3A – Samantha Boudreau, Bonney Lake, sr. (shot put); Rhaven Dean, Sumner, jr. (shot put, javelin); Morgan Greene, Wilson, soph. (400); Molly House, Auburn Mountainview, jr. (300 hurdles); Jasmine Parker-Borrero, Wilson, soph. (triple jump); Tiffany Pott, Auburn Mountainview, sr. (high jump); Emma Sjolund, Sumner, soph. (800); Rebecca Thareek, Auburn, soph. (300 hurdles, high jump)
2A – Peyton Russell, Tumwater, sr. (long jump, triple jump)
1A – Annika Hille, Vashon Island, sr. (100, 200); Morgan Schepker, Cascade Christian, jr. (400); Samantha Swartout, Eatonville, soph. (javelin); Brailee VandenBoom, Eatonville, sr. (high jump)
2B – Ashley Brooks, Tacoma Baptist, sr. (100 hurdles); Heidi Sowers, Northwest Christian, jr. (200, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Elizabeth Stottlemyre, Northwest Christian, jr. (javelin); Rachel Van Liew, Tacoma Baptist, jr. (400)
1B – Gabby Baker, Evergreen Lutheran, sr. (javelin); Taylor Hoffman, Mt. Rainier Lutheran, sr. (200); Emily Holder, Evergreen Lutheran, sr. (800, high jump); Honor McKenney, Chief Leschi, soph. (400); Faith Nitz, Evergreen Lutheran, soph. (3,200); Katelyn Schwartz, Evergreen Lutheran, jr. (high jump, long jump)