Ethan Willems was all set to be one of Snohomish County’s biggest high school spring sports stars of 2020.
The boys track and field sprinter and recent Glacier Peak graduate was the reigning Class 4A state champion in the 400 meters, having recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee to claim the top spot on the podium. He was the top-ranked 400 runner in the state in any classification based on times from last year, and not only was he the favorite to repeat as state champ in the 400, he had a chance to double up in the 200, in which he placed third at state last year. However, Willems’ attempts to double up were halted when the coronavirus outbreak forced the cancellation of spring sports.
The Herald caught up with Willems to talk about target times, what he thought about his chances at claiming more state titles, and his future at Washington State University in this edition of the spring sports senior salute:
What were your goals this season?
My goals were that I obviously wanted to win state again and go for another title. I was also hoping to get into the high 46s for the 400 (his personal best is 47.84 seconds) and then get into the 21s in the 200 (his personal best is 22.00), which is something I wasn’t able to do last year. I wanted to place in both those events at state.
What did you think of your chances at achieving those goals?
I think they were pretty attainable. I was working with a new coach and my start was getting a lot better over the winter. I was getting more explosive and I kept getting that start better. Just putting that together with my endurance I thought that eventually I’d reach those times late in the year.
You mention endurance, and the 400 is the endurance event for sprinters. Is sprint endurance something you’ve always had?
I think so. When I used to play football I’d always be able to get into another gear when going down the field.
I’d say I have pretty good speed endurance, especially in the 400. I think I can keep my speed rolling a little longer than other athletes.
What are you going to miss most about track and field at Glacier Peak?
I’m definitely going to miss my teammates a lot. I’m going to miss the relay team (Willems was a member of the Grizzlies’ 400 relay team that qualified for state last year), I would have liked to have placed at state in a relay. I like the atmosphere around high school track, there’s just something about it, all the athletes are supporting and we’re all friends out there, no one is really your enemy. I’ll miss my coach, too.
You’re headed to Washington State, where you will be a member of the men’s track and field team. Why did you choose WSU?
When I visited there I really liked the team, and when the coach toured me around the school it felt like where I wanted to be (Willems was also considering Washington, Idaho and Arizona). I liked the small college town, the campus and facilities were really nice, and I felt like I could just stay on campus and be able to focus there.