Track and field athletes head to tri-district championships

The Vashon track and field team was met with harsh rain and bone-chilling gusts of wind on the first day of the Nisqually League Championships at Fife High School on May 13.

Despite this, many members of the team survived competition as merciless as the weather to qualify for finals the next day. On May 14, there were still soaking drops of rain, but the wind had died down and the Pirates were fired up to finish in the top four of their events and move on to Tri-Districts.

Tyler Stoffer immediately — and frequently — made his presence known with fourth-place finishes and personal bests in both the 110 and 300-meter hurdles, while also finding time to run a leg for the 400-meter relay team, which finished second.

On the girls’ side in the 300 hurdles, Lindsey Straube channeled her older sister, Kate — a former state medalist in the event — and ran a personal best of 54.66 seconds, which was good enough for a third-place finish.

Savannah Krug had a third-place finish of her own in the 1600 meters by running a season best of 5:45.

Colin Andrus (2:05) and Ramsey Walker (2:11) both ran all-time bests in the 800-meter run, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively; despite finishing out of the top four, both still have a chance to run the race again.

Andrus’ time met the district qualifying standard (2:10.3), and one of four wild-card slots may be available for Walker. The girls 4-by-400-meter relay team also moved on with a collective personal best of 4:33 and a fourth-place finish.

At 4 p.m., the day finally began to heat up — and so did the Pirates.

It began with James Spencer in the 400-meter dash. Having never eclipsed 53 seconds in the race, Spencer figured this was as good a time as any; he put on a burst heading into the final turn that left his competitors in the dust. When he broke the tape, the clock read 52.29, and Spencer was league champion.

Savannah Krug wanted a matching blue ribbon of her own after coming up short in the 1600-meter run earlier. Entering the race as the top seed, she played the role to perfection with an exhilarating final lap charge. Able to find the gear that had eluded her before, Krug shifted into overdrive and dashed to the win in a time of 2:35.

In the last race of the meet, the boys of the 4-by-400-meter team were hungry to challenge the heavily favored squad from Charles Wright Academy.

Nathan Betz led off the attack with a leg of 54.47 before handing off to Andrus, who was running the race for only the third time; proving that it is sometimes better to be good than experienced, Andrus kept the team within striking distance of Charles Wright with a split of 53.93.

Nick Fox-Edele ran the third leg in 54.45 and was able to pull even with the Tarrier in front of him, but Charles Wright’s last handoff was a little cleaner and left the Pirates five meters behind with one leg to go.

Befittingly, the ship was righted by the anchor of the team: Spencer. Once again, he found the magic that had brought him the title in the 400-meter and chased down the final runner from Charles Wright. When he had finished his leg in 52.42 and stopped the clock at 3:35.27, the giant had been slain, along with any hope of Spencer finding room to catch his breath as he was mobbed by the entire team.

This week, the stakes are raised even higher as the Pirate qualifiers travel to King’s High School for the Tri-District Championships and the right to go to State.

— Aaron Calhoun is the Pirate track and field team’s distance coach.

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