Alyssa Cullen may have lost out on her junior year track season, but her time away from sprinting and jumping may turn out to be a blessing.
Without the constant stress of spring and summer track on her body, Cullen has been able to focus on getting stronger and more durable thanks to spending an extended amount of time with some weights and barbells.
“I’ve been doing a lot more weight training than normal,” Cullen said. “A lot of CrossFit, because our track was closed for a long time.”
Cullen was in fine form Saturday in Silverdale during North Kitsap’s tri-meet with Bainbridge and Central Kitsap. She won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, along with the triple jump, and she ran anchor on the Vikings’ winning 4×200 relay team.
The Boise State commit was well ahead of the field in the 100 and 200. In the 100, she bested teammate Lillian Pruden by nearly a full second, and was 1.54 seconds ahead of fellow Viking Emerson Bollert in the 200. And she took home top honors in the triple jump with a mark of 37 feet, 10.5 inches, which is an event that has slowed her down a bit in the past, but she seems to have more tolerance for it thanks to her time away.
“Honestly, I think that helped me because that’s a painful thing to continuously be doing,” Cullen said.
Cullen and Bollert are the two returners from last year’s 4×200 state championship relay team, and they teamed with Pruden and Genesi Funston to win that race with a time of 1:48.28, just under four seconds off their state time at Mount Tahoma.
North Kitsap had several other winners Saturday. Tenichi Gordon won both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles as well as the pole vault; Johny Olmsted took the top spot in the men’s 400-meter dash (53.18); Diego Mendez took the men’s high jump; and Lincoln Castillo won the men’s long jump. Casey Simonson and Alyssa Quesada won the men’s and women’s javelin throw; and Connor Wallace won the men’s shot put. The women’s 4×100 relay team also finished first.
One of the more intriguing events of the day was the women’s pole vault. Although there were only three competitors, it lasted much of the day as Bainbridge senior Kati Cooper kept clearing the bar and ended up taking over 20 attempts as the bar was continually raised.
Cooper spends most of her year focusing on gymnastics and only pole vaults during her high school season. With so few practice attempts, she started with the bar low at around 6 feet.
“I started at six feet because the last time I pole vaulted was my sophomore year,” Cooper said. “And I think my PR sophomore year was 7-6, so I wasn’t sure I would even get six.”
At one point, Cooper had to take a break to compete on Bainbridge’s 4×100 relay team, but she returned to take two more shots at the height of 8 feet, 9 inches. She was unsuccessful, but finished the day with a victory with a new personal record of 8 feet, 6 inches.
Overall it was a pretty good day at the track for Cooper considering it was her first meet of the season. She also placed fourth in the high jump.
“At the last meet, I didn’t even compete because I had only practiced twice, and we didn’t have a bungee,” Cooper said.
Other top Bainbridge competitors include: Allie Wildsmith, who finished second in the women’s high jump and third in the women’s javelin; Thomas Steen, who took second in the men’s 110-meter hurdles and third in the 300-meter hurdles; Alex Miller, who finished third in the men’s 1600-meter run and second in the 3200-meter run; Lucy King, who took second in the women’s 1600 and was just four seconds behind Central Kitsap’s Maya Nichols; Aidan Freitas, who finished second in the men’s 400-meter run; Rowan Skipton, who placed second in the men’s 300-meter hurdles; Claire Hungerford, who was second in the women’s 300-meter hurdles; and Claire Jackson, who took third in the shot put.