Peninsula 2014 graduate Ben Smith is still riding the momentum of his second place finish last month at the Class 3A state track meet at Mount Tahoma High School. Smith, along with two of his teammates, seniors Austin Kilcup and Erica Hanisch, had a strong showing over the weekend at the Washington State Junior Olympic qualifier at French Field in Kent.
Peninsula javelin coach Mark Miller gave the throwers a couple weeks off after the season, so none of them are in peak shape right now. Still, they did well.
Out of eight competitors, Smith took first, edging Kilcup with his final throw and a distance of 171 feet. Kilcup came in second with a distance of 166 feet. Smith was in danger of losing his “title” to Kilcup (Smith has never lost to his friend and teammate).
“They have a good, healthy competition,” Miller said.
On the girls side, out of 11 competitors, Hanisch took fourth with a distance of 105 feet.
All three former Seahawks qualified for the regional competition during the Fourth of July weekend at Central Valley High School in Spokane. The top five finishers from each event in that meet will qualify for nationals in Houston on July 21-27. With Smith moving on, this is the last chance Miller has to be around this group.
“It’s been a really good group,” Miller said. “They’re very coachable. That’s what’s made it so easy. They’re very accountable for themselves. Ben hasn’t missed a practice in three years, Austin hasn’t missed one in probably two. Erica has never missed one.”
Miller added that they’re students first, and take several AP classes, present scheduling conflicts from time to time during the course of the season. But they communicate well.
“They’ll text me or call me if something comes up and they’re going to be late,” Miller said. “For me, the accolades are great, but to be able to help these kids become good young adults is a lot more fun to me.”
Senior Michala Zilkey won both the hammer throw and discus.