Strong state showing for Klahowya tracksters

Klahowya’s Sharon Cox ended up landing eighth place in the long jump at the 2A WIAA State Track & Field Championships. - Aaron Managhan/staff photo
Klahowya’s Sharon Cox ended up landing eighth place in the long jump at the 2A WIAA State Track & Field Championships.
— image credit: Aaron Managhan/staff photo

TACOMA — While Klahowya’s Sam Rucker was busy stealing the limelight at the 2A WIAA State Track & Field Championships, his teammates were quietly, and consistently, contributing.

With 14 athletes competing in 13 events, the Eagles finished in eighth place as a boys team with 24 points.

“It was just an amazing group of athletes this year,” Suzuki said. “It was just fun. I had a blast every single day.”

And while the girls side scored just one team point, they too were well represented.

Rucker, a senior, sped to wins in the 200- and 400-meter races, giving him four individual titles in the last two years.

Two Eagles joined Rucker on the podium.

For the boys, it was javelin hurler Ben Dekock. Also a senior, Dekock was disappointed in his district effort despite netting the district title.

“I had a really bad day at districts,” he said. “It was a little bit frustrating because I’ve got so much going for me.”

Dekock’s mark was under his average for the season. After launching the jav 175-feet, 1-inch on his first throw of the day Saturday, he was pretty relieved. Dekock finished fifth on the day, with Colville’s David Munson winning on a throw of 211-10. Last year, Dekock missed placing at state by a matter of inches.

“It felt good,” Dekock said. “It was nice to be consistent with my throws. And it was nice because last year, I kind of got hosed at the last minute. It’s nice to be one of the top guys in the state.”

Suzuki said Dekock took a lot of his improvement, and instruction in the javelin, into his own hands this spring.

“It was great too,” Suzuki said of the placement. “From the beginning of the season, he studied it. He’s just been a great coach for himself. It’s just amazing.”

With the team hoping to land higher in the standings, Dekock said he was just proud to represent the Eagles on the medal stand.

“State was a little rough for us this time,” said Dekock, who plans to throw for Western Washington University. “We had so many people go. I just wanted to go out and do it for the team. I got to be on the podium for team.”

Long jumper Sharon Cox was the girls’ lone placer, earning eighth place with a leap of 15-4.25. Courtney Kirkwood of Othello won with a jump of 16-10.

“She’s a junior still. And that’s two years in a row she’s placed in the top eight,” Suzuki said of Cox, who was sixth last year. “She has great potential ahead.”

While they represented the Eagles only placers, the team got some strong times at state out of several other athletes.

For the boys, the 1,600 relay of seniors Rucker, Nick Morgan, John Rarig and junior Randy Schmittler took 13th after winning districts.

“That was just amazing,” Suzuki said. “We don’t have the numbers. Four guys, that’s it. They were a fun group to work with. They’re a good group of friends to each other.”

Morgan also competed in the pole vault.

In girls competition, Sierra Cook, already having her appendix removed earlier this season, battled through a complication of the procedure that, while not uncommon, can affect breathing. She still battled to a 13th-place finish in the 3,200.

Senior Tiffony Gruenhagen competed in the shot put, and the Eagles were represented on the track by Rebekka Schell (200), Sheree Kuehl (400) and Jessica Cantu (800). Kuehl is a senior while Schell and Cantu are freshmen.

The girls also advanced the 800 and 1,600 relay teams, made up of seniors Sarah Dawson and Jenna Adams, Schell, Kuehl in the 800 and senior Anna Grummel in the 1,600.

“I told them before the season, ‘You have the potential to go to state,’” Suzuki said of the relays. “They knew that. For the girls, we have the numbers. But they needed to earn it.”

With so many seniors graduating, Suzuki said it was fun to watch the freshman who started with him progress.

“I’m so happy,” he said. “I started coaching four years ago. I had most of them as freshmen. I saw them grow. It was great to come here as a team. It’s a great way to end their high school track careers.”

With their careers ending, both Dekock and Rucker looked back on different aspects of their Klahowya experiences.

“I’m gonna miss practice,” Dekock said. “Practice with my team is just a lot of fun. It’s just a great group of kids.”

“It’s one of the best classes in Klahowya history in terms of athletics; and academics too,” Rucker said. “It was really exciting watching our basketball team, and the other sports, do good.”

Suzuki said he was just pleased with the way the team interwove a strong work ethic and a light-hearted atmosphere.

“We proved hard work could be fun in many was,” Suzuki said. “It was just an amazing year.”

Central Kitsap

Central Kitsap hurdler Sean Walker was the Cougars’ lone participant at state, just missing qualifying for the 110 high hurdles. Walker bounced back to claim seventh in the 300 hurdles however with a time of 40.46 seconds. His qualifying time also was seventh.


Brandon Fisher made it to state for the Trojans, missing the cut in the 100. Teammate Samantha Brewer was 10th in the long jump for Oly.

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