POULSBO — Two North Kitsap teams are still alive and kicking — at least through this weekend — in the West Central District playoffs.
The track team has 11 competitors in districts at Puyallup’s Sparks Stadium, while the tennis team sent three players, one singles player and a doubles team, to competition at the University of Puget Sound and Bellarmine High School.
Some athletes were more excited than others to qualify. The 4×200 track team, which ran its fastest time ever at the league tournament in Bremerton, thought it had not qualified for the second day of competition until coach Helen Smith found out in a coaches’ meeting that another team had disqualified.
Smith was left to give the happy news to the four-girl team.
“She came running up and said, ‘Guess what?” said Meghan Clark, who joins Mariah Hanson, Shannon Smalley, and Robyn Embrey on the team. “She had this look on her face … it was great.”
“We were so psyched,” said Hanson. “It was the greatest.”
Long-distance runner Jim Robson was equally psyched after his first-place finish in the two-mile race at league. While Robson has been competitive all year, a first place against tough league competition is a whole new level (“I think he even surprised himself,” said track co-head coach Tim Adams).
The finish was even more surprising because Robson had stumbled in the one-mile race; he was taken to the ground when a group of runners tumbled.
But he bounced back to set a huge personal record in the two-mile, and hopes to keep that momentum in Puyallup. Running, he said, has strategy as well as speed, and in Bremerton he was able to stick close to the lead, then swoop in and take it.
“By the end of the race, I took the lead and kept it,” he said. “You have to position yourself to run your race.”
Robson and the 4×200 team will join Viking track athletes Kolby Hoover in the 100 high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles; Michael Chuol in the 800 run; Jason Mumford in the discus; Mark Sargeant in the pole vault; Robyn Embrey in the 300 low hurdles and the 4×200 relay; Amber Markwick in javelin; Tara Smyth in shot; and Clark in the 100 run, 200 run, and 4×200 relay.
The tennis team will also hit the road this weekend. Brita Nelson qualified for districts with a 2-2 record in league, where she defeated Olympic’s Shannon McColl and Foss’s Yvonne Yeh to overcome losses to Tanita Bird of Bellarmine and Laura Finley of Gig Harbor. The doubles team of Abby Tillotson and Jolene Cari went 3-2, winning by default in their final round to take a seventh seed in the West Central District playoffs.
“It was a tremendous tournament experience for the girls’ tennis team,” said head coach Trish Olson.