The Gig Harbor Tides’ boys track and field team should be dangerous in the distance events this year.
Gig Harbor will field many of the members of last fall’s cross county team that dominated the Class 4A state meet and went on to win the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore. The team’s top four runners — Wolfgang Beck, Logan Carroll, Tristan Peloquin and Mahmoud Moussa — all will compete on the track and should give the Tides an advantage.
Under the direction of 11th-year head coach Kevin Eager, Gig Harbor has won boys state championships in 2005, ’07 and ’12. The team finished third last year and has its sights set on the top spot on the podium this May.
Carroll, a senior who will head to the University of North Carolina next year, said the state title is within reach.
“That’s been our goal from the beginning,” he said. “Obviously, we have lots of depth, and we’re hoping to score a lot of points on that. I think there’s a lot of new guys doing jumps and (senior Garret Steuk) in the sprints.
“I think we’re gonna surprise some teams that think we might just be a distance-oriented team,” Carroll said. “I think we’re gonna score some other points in big events, too.”
Eager said it won’t be “spring cross country.”
“They’ll need help,” he said. “We’ve got Steuk in the sprints, and we believe we have a thrower or two that could help out, too. Those guys will bring some points in, too. That’s the way track works. It’s hard to just win it with one group.”
Steuk, who has been successful at the state level for several years, is happy to share the burden. Last season, he placed sixth in the 100 meters and eighth in the 200, and he helped the 400-meter relay team finish fifth.
“I just want to go to state and try to compete there, so try to get my times down,” Steuk said. “That’s pretty much it. Try to get us some points for state and win a state title.”
Steuk is excited about what the cross country runners bring to the table, but he realizes they won’t be able to do it on their own.
“They should, theoretically, get us a state title by themselves, but we can’t put it all on them,” Steuk said. “It’s unfair that way. If they compete well and do everything, it should all fall into place.”
Gig Harbor has the experience following consecutive top-three finishes at state.
“I think since people have been able to experience the success, they want to get back to that,” Carroll said.
WARD RETURNS FOR GIRLS
Gig Harbor, which won the 2007 state championship and placed second the following year, wound up sixth last season, and Eager called it an underachievement.
While the Tides lost some integral pieces, they also will return senior Naphtali Ward, the state’s top 4A high jumper. They also boast junior Alison Corsi, a talented hurdler, and junior Brenna Peloquin, a distance runner.
Ward will have a shot to break the school record in the high jump, currently 5 feet, 6 1/2 inches. Her personal best is 5-6.
“The past years, I haven’t done any winter training or anything outside of track, because I’ve been doing other sports, like basketball,” Ward said. “This year, I’ve been focusing strictly on track, hoping to get stronger. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten a lot stronger.”
Ward is nursing an ankle injury, but she should be ready to go soon. She said she wants to help bring along the program’s younger athletes.
“I think we’re just looking to get all the young people involved and trying to build the program,” she said.
Corsi, who qualified for state last year in the hurdles but didn’t place in the top eight, hopes to stand on the podium this year.
“I’d like to be a state placer, try to run low 15s (seconds),” Corsi said of the 100-meter hurdles. “That’d be really good for me, I think.”
Corsi acknowledged that last year’s team fell short of their expectations, but she thinks the Tides can take something away from that.
“We’ve got to be stronger,” she said. “Last year, we were supposed to do really well but kind of fell apart and started worrying about everything. We kind of want to stay calm and execute.”
Eager said the team’s success will depend on how the younger girls perform.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids,” he said. “They’re just working their butts off right now.”
gig harbor track and field
March 20at Mount Tahoma jamboree3:30 p.m.
March 27at Olympia3:30 p.m.
April 3Yelm3:30 p.m.
April 10Stadium, Central Kitsap3:30 p.m.
April 12Tacoma Invitational at Lincoln10 a.m.
April 24at South Kitsap3:30 p.m.
May 1at Lincoln3:30 p.m.
May 3at Shelton Invitational1 p.m.
May 9Bellarmine3:30 p.m.Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151.