TACOMA — On two healthy legs, Austin Joyner of Marysville Pilchuck would have been a strong contender to win the 100-meter dash at Saturday’s Class 3A boys state track and field championships.
With one bad leg, Joyner had no chance. But his determination to finish what he started — that is, to complete every race in which he was qualified — convinced him to take his place on the starting line for the championship final.
Unable to run because of a strained right hamstring muscle suffered in a 200 qualifying race the day before, Joyner instead hopped the entire 100 meters on his left leg.
“I earned (the chance) to get to the finals,” Joyner said. “Rather than let somebody else just take my spot (by withdrawing), I decided I was going to come out and finish the race and at least get up on the podium.”
While the other seven runners all finished in times between 10.77 and 11.12 seconds, it took Joyner 30.74 seconds to reach the finish line. But the crowd appreciated his effort and applauded him to the end of his race.
Joyner, who won the long jump and was the top 100 qualifier before his Friday injury, said it was his idea to show up for Saturday’s race.
“I went back and forth on it,” he admitted. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to come out here and just hop down (the track). And it would’ve been nice to give somebody else a shot. But then I thought about it again and (decided) I got myself to this position, so I deserve to go out and do it.”
In addition, Joyner earned one team point by finishing eighth, and that point allowed Marysville Pilchuck to finish in a tie for 10th place with Mercer Island, both with 17 points. Take away Joyner’s point and the Tomahawks would have ended up in a three-way tie for 11th, missing out on a top-10 finish.
The irony is that Joyner, a junior, suffered a pulled hamstring at last year’s state championship meet, too.
“I’m kind of thinking I don’t want to come back,” he said with a grin. Then he added, “I’ll be back next year, but I’m going to have to try something different. I can’t go out (and get hurt) three times in a row.”
Two other Western Conference 3A runners placed in the 100 final. Meadowdale’s Margaryonta Kilcup was fourth in 11.03 and Marysville Pilchuck’s Deion Stell was seventh in 11.12.