It’s easy to lose Gig Harbor junior Brenna Peloquin in a pack of taller runners.
But that’s all part of the 5-foot-1 junior’s strategy.
In Saturday afternoon’s Class 4A girls 3,200-meter championship final at the state track meet at Mount Tahoma High School, Peloquin hung with the pack for the first half of the race, content to go with the flow and conserve energy. When Richland High School senior Lauren Perry broke away from the pack, Peloquin followed suit.
“My coach talked to me about it beforehand; he wanted those six or seven laps just as easily as possible, but still stay connected,” Peloquin said. “That’s pretty much what I did. Lauren started to push it a little bit with 1,000 to 800 (meters) to go, so I stayed with her, and that was uncomfortable.”
Perry wanted to break away, and while it was painful, Peloquin wouldn’t allow it.
“With 400 to go, I knew that if I could tough it out, I could win,” Peloquin said. “Once you make an aggressive move like that, you really have to stick with it, commit to it. That’s what I had to do. You really just have to push through the pain.”
If Peloquin was exhausted, she didn’t let it show. Peloquin and Perry were neck-and-neck going into the final lap, and it looked like it would be a photo finish. But then, out of nowhere, Peloquin kicked it into another gear and broke away.
“With 100 to go, I just made sure I really had gotten away from her,” Peloquin said. “I kicked it in hard on that 100.”
Peloquin won the race with a time of 10 minutes, 43.12 seconds, while Perry finished at 10:47.98. In the immediate aftermath of the race, Peloquin was spent.
“It hurts,” she said. “But it feels good. I definitely worked for that title.”
It was Peloquin’s second time on the podium that weekend. She took sixth in the 1,600-meter race with a time of 4:56.67.
The Gig Harbor girls took 14th overall in the team standings, in a five-way tie with 18 points. Senior Naphtali Ward took fourth in the high jump at 5 feet, 2 inches.
Saturday’s 3,200-meter race was the final sendoff for the Tides’ historic squad. The “big four:” seniors Wolfgang Beck, Logan Carroll, Mahmoud Moussa and junior Tristan Peloquin — the group responsible for Gig Harbor’s cross country national title in the fall, competed together in a Washington Interscholastic Activities Association-sanctioned event for the final time. The Tides went 2-5-6-13 in the final: Beck, Carroll, Peloquin, Moussa, respectively.
Beck finished at 9:03.22, three seconds behind Garfield senior Cameron Stanish.
“I’m very pleased,” Beck said. “This is the best race I’ve had all season, and I got eighth place in the mile, so I was looking to do better than that. This is the best I’ve ever finished at state. It was a great way to end my senior season.”
Stanish pulled away late, but Beck was able to close the gap a bit toward the end.
“I was just kind of settling into the pack, and then I sort of broke free with about a mile to go,” Beck said. “I was able to close harder than I expected, so it was a good last lap.”
From the national title to competing together at state, Beck said he won’t forget this year anytime soon.
“It’s bittersweet because we’ve made such great memories,” Beck said. “I’ve really liked bonding with my teammates, getting close to Tristan and Logan and Mahmoud especially, because I train with them every day. We share a close bond and it’s going to be great reliving these memories in years to come.”
Carroll took fifth in the 3,200 and fourth in the 1,600 at 4:11.15. The 1,600 was faster than most years, as Moussa ran a 4:14.22, which was only good for ninth place this year. Carroll was aiming for a time under 4:10, but still set a personal record with his time. In the end, Carroll just ran out of energy, he said.
“They just had it in the tank at the end and I didn’t have it today,” Carroll said. “Can’t complain too much.”
While track is an individual sport, Carroll acknowledged the familiarity and comfort of running with three of his teammates.
“It gives you a little bit of confidence; you’re here with your teammates,” Carroll said. “I kind of linked up with Tristan a little bit in the middle of the race, and we kind of worked together a little bit, which was nice.”
Peloquin finished in seventh in the 1,600 after struggling in the past weeks and barely qualifying for state. Peloquin said he ran well at the Oregon Relays in Eugene midway through the season, and then pushed it hard in the workouts afterward.
“We just started hammering some workouts and probably got after it a little bit in those workouts, and it just kind of put me under,” Peloquin said. “Come league, I barely qualified. I qualified by half a second or so.”
Peloquin focused on recovering and getting his legs back under him in time for the state meet, and had a nice showing. With the three seniors departing, Peloquin will move into the star role next season.
Senior Garrett Steuk took fourth in the 100-meter race at 11.04. The Gig Harbor boys took ninth place overall.Jon Manley: 253-358-4151 email@example.com Twitter: @gateway_jon