Dolese has learned to battle ailments to become one of state's top sprinters

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 28, 2014 

Sehome’s Sarah Dolese (392) earns a second-place finish in the 4x100 relay during the Bedlington Invitational on Friday, March 21, in Lynden.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

If Sehome senior sprinter Sarah Dolese is running her best, she'll finish the 100 meters, her favorite race, in less than 12.5 seconds.

Dolese's time on the track is brief, but the display of athleticism and speed in that moment in time is possible thanks to a carefully orchestrated routine the senior has developed through her years as a Mariner.

The Montana State-bound sprinter has captured quite a medal haul during her four years competing at the Class 2A State Track and Field Championships.

Dolese owns three 4x200 relay state titles, a third-place medal in the 4x100 relay, a second- and third-place medal in the 200 meters and a fourth and fifth in the 100.

What makes Dolese's accomplishments even more impressive is she's not only battled talented competitors; she's learned how to beat a myriad of health issues as well.

"I think in past years, not to exclude this year, she's dealt with shin splints and little muscle stuff," Sehome sprints coach Nic Castona said in a phone interview. "She has learned this year to really run well when she is not feeling well. ... She has done everything we've asked her to do and sometimes does more than we ask her to."

Dolese's 2014 state meet is again fully loaded with four events, including the 100, 200, 4x100 and 4x200, and she'll be looking to turn in one final quality performance Thursday-Saturday, May 29-31, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

If Dolese reaches the finals in each race, including prelims she'll run eight times. That requires a lot of careful planning for an athlete who's still battling some nagging injuries and also has been diagnosed with hypoglycemia - a condition occurring when someone is suffering from low blood sugar.

Dolese strained a back muscle last December and is still dealing with its ramifications this spring. In addition to taking care of her frame, Dolese meticulously nourishes her body to prevent any hypoglycemic episodes.

"It's extremely mapped out," said Dolese of her meet training and eating routine. "I'm a really picky eater, too, which makes it hard. I can't put food in big containers or it looks like I have to eat it all, so I have a bunch of small containers everywhere."

Dolese said she has different foods for different moods she's in, brings her breakfast, lunch and dinner with her because she can't usually eat at team dinners and even drinks two different types of sport drinks. Her go-to food, though, is peanut butter pretzels.

She also has to allot 30-45 minutes before each race to warm up.

"When I have all these little things I take care of I'm like, 'OK, now I can run,'" Dolese said. "It helps mentally, too."

Dolese first discovered her hypoglycemia condition her sophomore year during track and field practice, but it first significantly interfered with her performance at last season's Larry Eason Invitational - an event Dolese covets performing well in.

Castona remembers Dolese talking with him after one of her races when her eyes began to flutter uncontrollably. She was cognitive, but she couldn't see, he said.

Dolese got some fruit, and Sehome's coaches were able to help her control the situation. She actually was able to return to the track and won the 100-meter title.

"That was a big growth thing for her," Castona said. "She learned she can still run fast and be competitive when she is not running 100 percent, and that really added the foundation that has formed pushing forward."

Dolese made a goal of finishing all her races at the Eason Invite this spring. Not only did she finish all of them, which take place in one day including prelims, she repeated as 100-meter champion.

Dolese has enjoyed a wealth of success during her Sehome career, establishing herself as one of the top sprinters in the state, and while she said winning a team relay title means more to her than an open race, an individual title still eludes her.

Dolese said she's exciting to get one final opportunity to compete with the best in the state, including friendly Bellingham rival sprinter Alyssa Porter.

"It's amazing how much sprints have increased in intensity in 2A over the past year," Dolese said. "Freshman year it wasn't even close to how competitive it is. It's amazing how girls throw down such good times. It's really cool to run with them, and it makes me feel privileged when I'm up there with them. We all get along really well, too."

Sehome coach Kevin Ryan said while Dolese and all kids obviously want to win titles, his program focuses on running the best race an individual can, rather than what place they finish.

"I think she is just going to go out there and run the best she can that day," Ryan said in a phone interview. "It's cliché, but it's true. Our teams have really thrived on the team aspect and not an individual sport. That has helped us individually and as a team."

Dolese is seeded sixth in the 100, third in the 200 and the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams are seeded second and first, respectively.

"They say nice guys finish last, but I think she is proving that statement false," said Castona, who has coached Dolese the past four seasons. "She is really one of the nicest kids I have ever had. I never have to worry about her attitude at practice, never had any kind of drama."

Reach Andrew Lang at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.

CLASS 2A STATE TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS

When: Thursday-Saturday, May 29-31

Where: Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma

Reach ANDREW LANG at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call ext. 862.

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