Right now it’s about qualifying and advancing. But in two weeks, the Black Hills High School boys track team will have defending a title in mind.
Last year, the Wolves took 11 athletes to the Class 2A state track and field championships at Mount Tahoma High School.
They didn’t crown an individual champion but scored in eight events, and the Wolves left Tacoma with a bigger prize — the second track and field team title in school history.
“That group last year was pretty special,” Black Hills coach Brad Dudley said. “Just their maturity and how they went about it.”
The Wolves are significantly younger this season, but Dudley contends this group has similar abilities to last year’s champions.
“I think there’s an opportunity for us to do it,” Dudley said. “Like last year, we went into the season knowing we had the athletes that could do it.
“But the key is you have to perform. You have to do well at state for that to happen.”
In other words, you need lightning to strike at the correct time. Or in this case, for it to strike at the correct time again.
Black Hills does return three of its state placers from last year’s team. Kyler Nygren, now a senior, took fifth in the long jump and ran as the third leg of the Wolves’ 4x100-meter relay team.
Austen Daisa, a senior, took second in the shot put, and Jordan Claridge, a sophomore, finished sixth in the javelin.
Several other athletes have filled in well for those athletes who have graduated.
“Coming through the season, I feel like we’re going to be really strong and have a chance to do something,” Daisa said.
On Friday night at Tumwater District Stadium, several Black Hills athletes won 2A Evergreen Conference titles.
Nygren was a three-time winner — in the long jump (21 feet, 1 3/4 inches), in the 100 meters (11.41 seconds) and as a leg of the 4x100 relay team (44.12).
Sir Carter, a freshman, won league titles in the 110 hurdles (15.85) and 300 hurdles (42.5).
Daisa picked up a first-place finish in the shot put (48-3) and Claridge a first-place finish in the javelin (163-5).
All three of Black Hills’ returning state placers — Nygren (second, long jump), Daisa (fifth, shot put) and Claridge (eighth, javelin) — are ranked in the top eight in their respective events in Class 2A.
“We’ve got a couple of good throwers and a couple of good runners,” Nygren said. “Hopefully it will carry on to state.”
The Wolves also have two relay teams ranked in the top 10. The 4x100 squad of Christian Williams, Kade Weitzel, Nolan Reynolds and Nygren is fifth in Class 2A.
The 4x400 team of Pearse Popchock, Carter, Williams and Reynolds is ranked ninth.
“I think we have a lot of people who are towards the top of the flights and toward the top of the heats,” Daisa said.
“I think scoring, in that sense, is kind of in our favor because we do have top-tier talent on our team, which is really cool to see.”
After all, that is what led to last year’s state title — piecing together enough points. Can the Wolves repeat that formula in two weeks?
“They have the ability,” Dudley said. “But they’re going to have to produce.”