High School Sports

Tumwater sophomore Brian Le’s time is now, even after recovering from injury

Tumwater sophomore Brian Le breaks down championship win in 2A boys 400

Tumwater High School sophomore Brian Le won the Class 2A boys 400 meters on Saturday, May 25, 2019 at Mount Tahoma in Tacoma, Wash.
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Tumwater High School sophomore Brian Le won the Class 2A boys 400 meters on Saturday, May 25, 2019 at Mount Tahoma in Tacoma, Wash.

This wasn’t necessarily the season Tumwater High School sophomore Brian Le expected to win his first individual Class 2A state title.

Le was a state hopeful after running legs of both Tumwater’s 400- and 1,600-meter relays at last season’s state championships in Tacoma as a freshman. He dove into an intense workout plan last summer.

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays were for speed workouts, technique work and recovery runs. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays were gym days, and Le either lifted weights or played basketball. Sundays were for schoolwork and recovery.

“The summer after my freshman season all the way to the beginning of track, I just trained,” Le said.

Then, two days into the beginning of the high school track season in late February, Le tweaked his right hip. He didn’t run a race until the end of March.

“Throughout the whole thing, I thought this was just going to be a season to just get healthy again for the next season,” Le said. “It means a lot to be able to come back in the last four to five weeks and be able to do what I did today.”

Saturday afternoon at Mount Tahoma, Le ran a personal-best 49.89 seconds in the 400 to win the 2A boys title. He was the only runner in the race to finish below 50 seconds.

“Being out for seven weeks and going to practice every day either biking or rolling out, it really motivated me to get back here,” Le said. “I saw all my other teammates working, and I just wanted to be with them. When I was able to run again, I just knew if I kept working on it, I might have a chance.”

Le’s first race this season was an 800 in a dual meet against Centralia on March 28. He didn’t compete in the 400 until the Chehalis Activators Invite on April 20, but still posted a winning time of 51.21.

He and teammate Brad Blackburn — who took fourth (50.25) in Saturday’s race — both ran personal bests at last week’s Southwest District championships.

Blackburn won at 49.59, while Le’s 49.97 was enough for second. They join Andrew Brown (47.1 in 2013) as the only athletes in Tumwater history to run the 400 under 50 seconds. Brown also still owns the 2A state meet record with that time.

But, Le has two more seasons to try to best it. Le started running track in the seventh grade, and was initially a sprinter before gravitating toward the 400 and 800 in high school.

“The 400 I kind of like because it’s a hybrid,” Le said. “If you have endurance, then you keep the same pace all the way through more consistently. If you’re fast, you can get out and just try to finish the race in the last 100.

“I like the technicality in the 400, and how you have to put in a lot of technique, and it’s not always about pure skill.”

Le said his experience at the state meet his freshman season helped him prepare for running individually this season. Tumwater’s 4x400 relay took fourth with Le running a leg last season, while the 4x100 just missed out on the finals.

I didn’t make it in for individuals freshman year, which I’m kind of happy for because I got a taste of what state was like, how it was run, because I did the relays,” Le said.

“It gave me an idea of what the track was like, how the program was run. So, when state came around this year, I had memories in my head from last year that I could picture in my head and get ready for the 400.”

Le also ran a leg of Tumwater’s 4x400 relay Saturday evening. The T-Birds took second in the race (3:22.94) and were the 2A runners-up as a team (46 points), while Sequim (61) won the team title.

TWO MEDALS FOR CARTER

Black Hills junior Sir Carter added two more hurdles medals to bring his collection to four.

Carter finished third in the 2A boys 110 hurdles (15.06) on Friday afternoon, and second in the 300 hurdles (personal-best 39.42) on Saturday. Carter, who took second in the 110 hurdles and third in the 300 hurdles as a sophomore, said he is pleased with his progress.

“Of course I’m always striving for first, but I have to put this into perspective,” he said. “There’s a lot of great athletes in this state, so just being able to be here and compete and getting top-three is definitely an honor.”

Carter dove across the finish line in the 300 hurdles, but was just edged out by Woodland’s Tyler Flanagan by four-hundredths of a second for the title. But, Carter was, in part, diving for the personal-best time.

“I felt myself stumbling just a little bit, but I was like, ‘I need this time,’ so I put a little dive in there,” Carter said.

With one season of high school track remaining, Carter said he is motivated to top the podium as a senior in 2020.

“I am, and then I have nationals coming up in the next month, so that will be another opportunity,” he said.

LOCAL PLACERS

River Ridge’s Taylor Woodworth took second in the 2A girls 400 at 57.61, while Tumwater’s Olivia Bailon placed third at 58.15. Woodworth also took eighth in the 200 at 29.96.

Timberline’s 4x100 girls relay (Destinee Robertson, Brandi Gardner, Haylee Ward, Ashley Babkirk) finished third in 3A at 49.63.

W.F. West’s Megan Flexhaug finished third in the 2A girls pole vault, clearing 10-6.

Olympia’s Will Anderson took fourth in the 4A boys 400 at 49.12. Yelm’s Elliot Clary took fourth in the 3A boys discus at 152 feet. Black Hills’ Pearse Popchock took fourth in the 2A boys 800 at 1:57.7.

Capital’s 4x400 boys relay team (Clayton Grady, Jeremy Spence, Kaden Decker, Oliver Salmon) took fourth in 3A at 3:24.15. Capital’s 4x400 girls relay team (Emily Jackson, Lexi Solis, Kaya Frost, Kyra Skipworth) took fourth in 3A at 4:04.53.

W.F. West’s 4x100 boys relay team (Troy Yarter, Carver Brennan, Jaiyden Camoza, Gerardo Sanchez-Carpio) placed fourth in 2A at 43.74.

Olympia’s Ava Wolin took fifth in the 4A girls 400 at 58.32. Olympia’s Katelyn Rigg took fifth in the 4A girls 800 at 2:15.36. Black Hills’ Jordan Claridge took fifth in the 2A boys javelin at 157 feet.

Tumwater’s 4x200 girls relay (Mikaeli Decker, Natalie Sumrok, Alyssa Duncan, Jordan Hanson) took fifth in 2A at 1:46.06.

River Ridge’s 4x400 girls relay (Raquel Robinson, Taryn Lucas, Jordyn Thomas, Woodworth) took fifth in 2A at 4:06.89.

Olympia’s Beatrice Asomaning, who won a discus title on Thursday, placed sixth in the 4A girls shot put at 40- 1/2.

Yelm’s Bryce Cerkowniak took sixth in the 3A boys 3,200 at 9:24.59. In the 3A girls 300 hurdles, Shelton’s Victoria Silverman took sixth at 46.37, while Yelm’s Alexis Sapegin took eighth at 47.12.

Timberline’s Ashley Babkirk placed seventh in the 3A girls 100 at 12.93. Capital’s Jackson finished seventh in the 3A girls 800 at 2:17.04.

River Ridge’s Drayden Alexander finished seventh in the 2A boys 400 at 50.73. The Hawks’ 4x400 boys relay team (Alexander, Jacob Miller, Peniamina Mapu, Isaiah Parker) placed seventh at 3:30.29.

Olympia’s Ethan Coleman took eighth in the boys 3,200 at 9:16.74. North Thurston’s Samir Amin placed eighth in the 3A boys 800 at 1:56.04. W.F. West’s Colby White took eighth in the 2A boys triple jump at 42-6.

Lauren Smith covers the Seattle Mariners for The News Tribune. She previously covered high school sports at TNT and The Olympian, beginning in 2015. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Emerald Ridge High School.
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