PT track and field debuts 300-meter hurdlers

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The Port Townsend High School track and field team witnessed the debut of a few new features at its April 13 home meet at Blue Heron Middle School.

“The meet ran smoothly, which is significant,” PT coach Ian Fraser said. “The school found the money to hire a professional timing service for the first time, and that helped tremendously.”

One major highlight of the meet for Port Townsend, according to Fraser, “was the emergence of our 300-meter hurdlers,” since it was the first meet of the year in which the team had even entered a competitor in either the boys’ or girls’ 300-meter hurdles, and he deemed the results of both races “promising.”

Fraser credited PT sophomore Dylan Tracer with spending the season using his athleticism to branch out from the sprints, for which he had “good success” during his freshman season, including competing at the state championship in the 4x400-meter relay.

“He’s spent much of the early season working on the throwing events, but over the past couple of weeks, he has also started dabbling in the hurdles during practices,” Fraser said. “Though his hurdling is a work in progress with a long way to go, to put it generously, we thought that it was fair enough to give the intermediate hurdles a try.”

Tracer attacked the hurdles with what Fraser called “the fearlessness requisite of a good hurdler,” and while he ended up breaking two hurdles in the course of the race, his speed and strength were enough to propel him to victory in 43.43 seconds, a time that ranks within the top 10 among Washington State 1A competitors this season.

PT senior Aubry Botkin ran her first 300-meter hurdles race in almost two years at this meet.

Botkin’s highest levels of success have been with the 100-meter hurdles, in which she was the Washington State 1A runner-up last year. Her freshman year saw her compete at the state championship in the 300-meter hurdles, but she had not run the race since.

“Aubry started the race a bit hesitantly, but after letting North Kitsap freshman Alyssa Cullen build a large early lead over the first four hurdles, Aubry gave chase and closed the gap to about a third of a second at the finish line,” Fraser said.

Botkin’s second-place time of 49.95 is her second-best lifetime mark in the event, and also ranks within the top 10 among Washington State 1A competitors this season.

A few other PTHS performances singled out by Fraser included the following:

• Sophomore Anika Avelino racing her first 400-meter race of the season, which she won against a deep field, producing a personal-best performance of 1:04.20 to turn a victory over two Klahowya athletes who had come into the race with superior rankings.

• Junior Eileen Leoso tossing the javelin to a new personal-best distance of 110 feet, 2 inches, in what Fraser deemed “difficult windy conditions,” to defeat the rest of the field by more than 20 feet, and securing her top 10 Washington State 1A ranking.

• The girls’ 4x100-meter relay of Avelino, Botkin, Leoso and junior Brenna Franklin ran their first relay of the season, finishing a close second to North Kitsap in 53.74, the second-best time of the year in the West Central District.

In related news, Fraser noted the Brooks running shoe and apparel company has started a national virtual competition, in which schools from across the nation are ranked based on how the teams’ athletes improve throughout the season. Though the competition is still in its early stages, there are nearly 1,000 teams signed on from around the country, including just over 100 from Washington state.

“We have seen how well and steadily the PTHS athletes have been improving throughout the season, and this meet was no different, as all but one boy and two girls produced at least one personal-best performance, and many had multiple,” Fraser said.

The PTHS boys are currently ranked no. 2 in Washington state and no. 5 nationally. The PTHS girls haven’t quite been able to match that, but are still ranked no. 18 in Washington state and no. 181 nationally.

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