Two South Kitsap Wolves claimed state championships and three more brought home medals in an eventful state track and field meet that saw both incredible perseverance and promise for future seasons.
The Wolves came into the weekend just one year after their female team finished runner-up in the team state standings. It’s fair to say that would not be the case again with just eight athletes (five girls, three boys) making the trip to Mount Tahoma High School, but anyone who understands track like coach Ed Santos knows it’s not about the team score at the end but the way each athlete ends his or her season.
In the case of this year’s meet, Santos saw exactly what he wanted. “I think just about every kid who came and qualified scored,” he said. “I thought we had a great meet. I was super excited about how we performed.”
The Wolves broke through on the first day of competition as senior Riley Smith took eighth place in shot put, throwing a personal best of 49 feet, ½ inches. Breakout sophomore Lauren Laws, who had danced around the five-minute mark in the 1600-meter run, finally broke it with her own personal best of 4:59.9, good for sixth place.
More medals were added to the collection on day two after junior Grace Degarimore, who placed tenth in javelin the day before, picked herself up to take runner-up in shot put, throwing 38 feet, 11 inches. She followed it up on the final day with another runner-up performance in the discus, twice eclipsing the 140-foot mark.
“Four PR throws. Over 140 twice. I mean, you can’t do much better than that,” Santos said. “My throw coaches…they just do a fantastic job with their throwers. They have a great culture.”
One South Kitsap thrower made it to the top of the championship podium. Senior Brendan Bourke in his last attempt for discus prelims launched a 164-feet, 11-inch throw that drew a collective gasp in awe from the crowd. Then just minutes later in finals, he did it again with a throw of 169-feet, six inches.
Bourke credited his success to his coaches, saying their past knowledge of the biggest stage in high school track helped him find his zone. “They know what it is to be in this scenario, and they’ve really prepared me for it all year. They knew that I could make it here, and they knew that I could win,” he said.
“It’s a blessing, man,” added throwing coach Renard Williams following the victory, “being a state champ myself coming back to SK where I graduated and having this lineage of high school athletes come and compete for opportunities to win state. It’s always the cherry on top when said athlete can accomplish that.”
Laws returned to the track on the final day to claim a fourth-place medal in the 800-meter run. Her time of 2:13.4 was a new personal best and was just three seconds away from the first-place finisher.
“I worked really hard on this in the winter, so I was really happy to see it pay off,” she said following the race. “They (the coaches) pushed me really hard in the workouts, and they were like, this is going to pay off. You’re going to run really fast.”
South Kitsap also saw its state-bound ambulatory athlete, sophomore Amelya Lester-Dame, claim two state titles in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. Her times of 15.07 and 31.54 seconds respectively were both personal bests.
Other Wolves to compete in the state meet were sophomore Jefferson Smith (13th in 800-meter, 15th in 1600-meter), sophomore Cheyanne Barker (10th in 100-meter dash) and junior Rylee Filbert (9th in javelin).