Knights poised to extend track and field legacy

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  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:41am

SHORELINE — Going into last spring’s Class 1A track and field state championships, Knights coach Daunte Gouge wasn’t expecting a runaway victory by the King’s girls like the year before.

The Knights gave him one anyway.

Adding yet another chapter to their state meet legacy, the Knights eclipsed 100 points for the second year in a row and cruised to a second straight girls title in convincing fashion.

King’s has made a habit of putting up some gaudy numbers at state since winning its first championship seven years ago. In 2001, the Knights tallied a meet record 149 points — shattering the previous record they set three years earlier by more than 50 points.

Last year, King’s compiled 1293/4 points to finish more than 75 points ahead of the rest of the field and assume ownership of the top four team point totals in state meet history.

With their elite distance crew and several key returners in the jumps and sprints, even more accolades surely await the Knights this season.

“We should be up there,” Gouge said. “We should be right in the mix again. I don’t think it’s going to be a domination like it has been. But we’ll definitely be up there in the top crew.”

Some consistent contributors were lost to graduation — including shot put and discus champion Julie Reese, distance standout Tricia Hansen and half of two winning relays — but the program won’t have to worry about a shortfall of talent any time soon.

“Losing a senior class like that is brutal,” Gouge said. “But on the other side of that, we have a freshman class coming in that’s just tough.”

The Knights will remain a state power for years to come on the strength of their distance runners alone. Senior Rachel Strand’s first-place finish helped King’s defend its cross country state championship in the fall and sophomores Melody Miles and Heidi Kieling also finished in the top 10.

Strand placed third in the 3,200-meter run and fifth in the 1,600 at state last year, but will likely focus on the 800 and mile.

Senior Tiffany VanSkaik and sophomore Chira Louie ran on King’s winning 400 and 800 relays. Louie took fifth in the long jump and sophomore Hayley Zevenbergen also returns in the jumps.

Junior Breyanne Nordtvedt and Reese combined for 54 points at last season’s state meet, tying the team total of second-place Rainier.

One of four Knights competing in the event, Nordtvedt won the triple jump by more than six inches. She took second in both hurdles races and was a part of King’s third-place mile relay team.

Nordtvedt attributed the program’s enduring streak of success to attitude and teamwork.

“Everyone loves seeing everyone else excel,” she said. “I see that a lot. We’ve learned to be encouraging and be supportive to each other and that’s really helped us.”

The King’s boys have finished second to Chinook League rival Tacoma Baptist at the past two state meets and bring back most of their top performers.

“I think we’ve got what it takes to win a state championship this year,” senior Charlie Waldburger said.

Brandon Thompson’s first individual championship paced the Knights to a record fourth consecutive state cross country title in November. Thompson placed third in the 3,200 and seventh in the 1,600 as a junior at last year’s state track meet.

Steven Miller, Brent and Aaron Woodham, David Howell and Greg Flowers give King’s an accomplished pack of distance and middle distance runners.

“The majority of our points will come from the distance (events),” Gouge said. “Anything from 800 and up, we’ll be tough. We’ll score a lot of points in those.”

Waldburger took fifth in the long jump and ran on two top-four relays at state and has since added the triple jump to his routine. Junior Chris Faidley placed second in the 300 hurdles and sprinters Hadley Ma and Victor Kwan also return.

While the King’s girls have captured eight straight Tri-district titles and four of the past six state titles, the boys have also solidified themselves as perennial state contenders, claiming the past two Tri-district championships.

Waldburger passed much of the credit on to the coaching staff.

“I think it’s that we have coaches that have trained state champions in the past,” he said. “They have a system that works. It’s hard to argue with the results. We just do what they say and it pays off.”

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