For the first time since 2019, the high school track and field state championships returned to Tacoma for three days of competition Thursday afternoon.
Two years ago, the track and field season was canceled in its entirety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the meet was condensed with no postseason.
This year, though, track and field athletes around the state completed a full spring season, and more than 1,600 will compete this weekend in the Class 4A/3A/2A state meet at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
Many are newcomers to the event following the two-season hiatus, but some are returning after competing at the state level for the first time as freshmen.
Three South Sound seniors are among the returners this weekend who reached the podium with impressive outings at the meet in their first high school seasons in 2019.
Bellarmine Prep’s Ella Borsheim won a pair of medals here that spring, as the runner-up in the 4A girls 800-meter run and placing third in the 1,600. Tumwater’s Natalie Sumrok earned a runner-up finish in the 2A girls javelin. Olympia’s Ethan Coleman placed eighth in the 4A boys 1,600.
The wait finally over for a chance to claim their first titles, each of the three won individual championships on the opening day of the meet Thursday afternoon.
“It feels like it’s been so long since I was here my freshman year, so it makes it even more special to be back here and to have another state meet,” Borsheim said. “I’m just trying to enjoy it and have a lot of fun with it.”
Borsheim started her final high school meet with a title in the 4A girls 1,600, eventually separating from a crowded group during the final lap to post a winning time of 4:54.17.
“I knew it was going to heat up since it was going at a pretty moderate pace, so I just tried to put myself in a good position,” she said.
Borsheim started to break ahead of the group as the final lap bell sounded, but was trailed closely by another 4A South Puget Sound League runner in Curtis sophomore Eliza White the rest of the way. White finished less than a second behind Borsheim at 4:54.23.
“I just thought about how much I wanted to win,” Borsheim said of the race’s final stretch. “And just had to commit to form and arm drive at that point, and try to finish all the way through the line.
“Eliza’s a good competitor. We’ve had some good battles this season so far. She pushed me hard that last 100.”
Borsheim will attempt to complete the distance triple crown Saturday afternoon. She won the 4A girls cross country title last fall — and is a two-time champion in that race — and is set to complete her impressive career with the Lions in the 3,200 on the final day of the meet.
She is the No. 2 seed in the event, and ran a personal-best 10:12.84 in the race last month at the Arcadia Invitational in California. Her state-leading time in the event is also the No. 15 time in the nation this spring.
Minutes after Borsheim won the 4A girls title, Coleman completed the 4A SPSL’s sweep of the event, topping the field in the 4A boys race.
“It just feels like a fresh experience,” he said. “Three years ago, getting eighth in the 3,200 as a freshman, that’s a completely different feeling than coming through here and in four minutes becoming a state champion. It’s a surreal feeling.”
As steady rain started to fall on the track, Coleman, a Notre Dame commit, found his way to the front of the group and outlasted Kamiakin’s Isaac Teeples in the final lap.
He won the title with a personal-best time of 4:06.28, which also ranks 10th in the nation this spring.
“I went out knowing it was going to be some stiff competition,” Coleman said. “Isaac Teeples is a great competitor. You can never feel safe with that guy on your shoulder. … Being able to come through with some real good competition, it felt good, and I knew I had this in me.”
Coleman will look to add another title Saturday afternoon as the top seed in the 4A boys 3,200. His personal-best 8:51.09, which he ran at the Arcadia Invitational last month, tops the state this spring and is the No. 14 time nationally.
He is also a member of the Bears’ 4x400 relay team, which is seeded fourth in Saturday’s final after running a 3:24.01 in the preliminary heats.
Sumrok has also been waiting for a return to the state meet since her impressive first season as a freshman, but didn’t have to wait long for her first title Thursday afternoon.
She completed four throws of 120-plus feet in the 2A girls javelin, posting what turned out to be the winning mark of 126-2 on her second attempt — which was nearly 10 feet ahead of the runner-up finisher.
“Finishing first place senior year is awesome,” she said. “It’s everything I asked for. … It just feels good. I’m really happy.”
Four more South Sound athletes — Federal Way sophomore Cassandra Atkins (4A girls triple jump), Shelton senior Alauna Carstens (2A girls 1,600), Tahoma senior Gavin Garcia (4A boys javelin) and Yelm sophomore Brayden Platt (3A boys shot put) — also won individual titles Thursday in their first appearances at the state meet.