Hard work has paid off for Lakewood hurdler Andrew Stich

LAKEWOOD — Blessed with speed, agility and a terrific work ethic, Andrew Stich took aim this season at some big goals with the Lakewood High School track and field team.

Stich, a senior, wanted to set school records in the 110-meter high hurdles and the 300 intermediate hurdles. In particular, he had his eye on the mark of 14.72 seconds in the 110 hurdles, which had stood since 1984.

Wasting no time, Stich claimed that record in his first meet this season, posting a time of 14.57 seconds at a jamboree in Oak Harbor.

“That record had been sitting around forever,” said Lakewood assistant coach Ron Detrick, who coaches the team’s hurdlers. When head coach Jeff Sowards “pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, do you know what we’re looking at?’ I couldn’t believe it. I had to get confirmation from him again.”

Detrick was not alone in his astonishment.

“I was very shocked,” Stich said. “It was pretty cool and very meaningful. That’s the one (record) I really wanted to get, and I’m really happy that I did.”

In the 300 hurdles, he already has broken his own school record of 39.55 seconds (set last season) twice this year. He ran a 39.27 in his third meet of the season, and then had a 39.23 at an invitational meet in Pasco last weekend.

Stich, who made his first trip to the Class 2A state meet a year ago and placed seventh in the 300 hurdles, owes his success this spring to an ambitious offseason training regimen. Determined to cap his high school career with a special senior season, he began working with a personal trainer last fall. Training 3-4 days a week through the winter, he lifted weights and did other exercises to strengthen his legs and upper body.

“He worked hard and really diligently this winter,” Sowards said. “He knocked on the door of some pretty good performances last year and then made it to the state meet, but his blossoming in a grand sense really happened over the winter.

“He’s definitely self-driven, and I think some of the success he had last spring kind of fanned the flames of his desire to be good at hurdling. And as he kept working hard, his confidence just continued to grow.”

Stich is one of two Snohomish County hurdlers who are among the state’s best. Jared Alskog of nearby Arlington High School, a Class 4A school, ran 38.70 to place third in the 300 hurdles at state a year ago, and has tied his personal best in the 110 hurdles this season with a 15.03.

As for Stich, having two school records already in hand means he needed to adjust his goals for the rest of the season. The most obvious prize would be a pair of state titles, though Stich says he puts a greater emphasis on improving his times.

“For me, the goal is mostly the time, whatever that brings me,” said Stich, who hopes to continue running the hurdles in college. “If that wins state, fine. And if that gets me eighth place, I’d be happy with that, too.”

But to win two state championships “would definitely be the cherry on top (of his high school years),” he admitted with a grin.

Sowards says he hesitates to make predictions because “I’ve been around cross country and track athletes a long time, and it’s really hard to say, ‘I’ll guarantee that he’s going to be a state champion.’ That’s something I just don’t say,” he explained.

“But if you’re putting yourself in the top three or four (hurdlers) entering the state meet, then you have a chance. And I’d say Andrew definitely has as good a chance as anyone else in 2A. … The goal is obviously to do his best and take care of the hurdles in his lane, and then let the results take care of themselves.”

That said, Sowards added, a state championship — and perhaps two — “would be fantastic and great reward for all (Stich’s) hard work and dedication. And I’d definitely put him in the group that has a shot at winning it.”

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