Local high schools’ track teams evaluate mid-season progress

April 10, 2012

By Matt Carstens

Joey Domek, Issaquah High School junior, leaps a barrier as he wins the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 17.54 seconds April 5 against Bothell. Domek also persevered in the 300 hurdles with a time of 44.4 seconds. By Greg Farrar

If there’s one single word in the English language to describe a strategy in high school track, it might be survival.

Staying healthy is the name of the game. Skyline High School coaches Dawn Geiser and Marc Hillestad agree that if you keep your best athletes healthy you have a real good chance when the post-season rolls around.

“My philosophy at this point is the team that does well post-season is the team that keeps their kids healthy,” Geiser said. “And that’s always been my philosophy as a coach. I’m going to undertrain my kids versus overtrain them, because you can have someone running really well right now but if they’re not healthy at the end of the season it’s not going to help you.”

Her counterpart Hillestad agrees.

“Dawn and I are on board with the same deal,” he said. “I think one of the biggest changes has been with our distance program so they’re not over-racing but their ready to race when the meet comes. It’s a philosophical change but our distance coach has done a great job getting those kids to buy in.”

Fast tracking the youth

For Skyline, there are a lot of fresh faces in the mix when it comes to track and field, and with the loss of superstar Kasen Williams, there are big holes to fill.

“On the boys’ side, we have a lot of rookies,” Hillestad said. “We have a lot of first timers. We’re trying to figure that out, get them acclimated. We also have three new coaches on staff, so that’s been a big change but a positive change all around. Our distance coach is doing a wonderful job, and we’ve got some strong performances coming from them.”

Hillestad said he is excited about the school’s distance program and thinks the team could have several boys under the 4:30 mark in the mile, as well as several under 10 minutes in the 2-mile run. Some of those names include Keegan Symmes, Drew Matthews and Riley Herrera.

On the girls’ side, Geiser said she thinks the season is going well so far.

“We’re excited about a couple of the invites we have coming up,” she said. “We had some great performances at our dual meet with Newport. A couple of the girls won their individual events and posted some really good early season times. I’m really excited about that.”

Many of the key contributors are some of the youngest on the team.

“Some of the girls that are posting the early times right now are our youth,” Geiser said. “I also have a freshman that has come in and is doing a really nice job in the sprints and hurdles.”

That freshman goes by the name of Geneva Ecola and she came in first place with a score of 18.5 in the 100-meter hurdles against Ballard on April 5.

Although her youth is impressing people early, Geiser said she believes that track coaches have it a little tougher than some of the other sports’ coaches.

“You look at the high school soccer, baseball and basketball, all those sports have clubs so the kids come in with all these skills, and we don’t have that in track,” she said. “As track coaches, we really do have to coach. Some of the other sports those kids have had avid coaching since they were young, and we don’t have select track clubs and things like that.”

Instilling a winning way

Liberty High School’s depth with its entire team has allowed it to win quite a few meets this season, even though according to coach Mike Smith, the regular season meets mean very little in the big picture.

“The dual meets during the season don’t do anything, they’re just for fun,” Smith said.

Because of the way the KingCo meet is set up, it is a much more individual sport. The top 16 make it to the post-season, whether that mark is met at the beginning or end of the season.

“You have kids like Josh Gordon who will qualify for eight or nine events, and it’ll just be a matter of which four is he going to pick,” Smith said. “The competition during the season is kind of an odd thing. Because it’s like if you’re a basketball team, the regular season record is kind of fun, and it’s important for everybody to be happy, but the post-season tournament is the only thing that matters. It makes it so some teams don’t care about the dual meets.

“We like doing well because we have enough bodies to do well. We like to win them. We usually try a little harder than some of the other teams.”

Smith said his team is set up very nicely with Gordon and others to make a good run in the post-season. Of course, health is always a key factor.

“Always the hard thing with us is we have some really, really, really good individuals,” Smith said. “And that’s what you need at state. State isn’t really a team sport, it’s more of an individual sport, and you have to have the superstars.

“Depending on whether we stay healthy, and you can’t lose even one of the guys that did well at state last year, we could be in the top 3 again,” he added. “It’s all based on staying healthy and not anything going wrong. We had a perfect meet last year. Can we do it twice? I don’t know.”

Personal records

The theme of Issaquah High School track this year seems to be personal records, as multiple records have been set each week.

At last week’s dual meet versus Bothell, the girls won, 107-47, while the boys came up short, 100-44. Among the personal records set were Emilie James in the pole vault, Sarah Arthur in the 100-meter run and Hunter Hurley in the javelin. Hurley’s throw was the furthest by an Issaquah freshman in 17 years and good for No. 2 on the all-time freshman list.

Other personal records included Bob Varney in the pole vault, Jack Herbst in the 1600-meter and 3200-meter runs and Joseph Domek in the 300-meter hurdles.

Issaquah also holds several of the top spots in KingCo. Seniors Kyle Farmer and Jorrell Dorsey are tied for second in the 100-meter standings for boys, with their counterpart Gabrielle Gevers holding the second spot for the girls.

As for leaders, junior hurdler Lauren Bruner leads the conference in 300-meter hurdles and Dorsey holds the top spot for the triple jump at 43 feet.

Matt Carstens: 392-6434, ext. 236, or ip-sports@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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