Sehome throws coach Tim Carlson has trained a lot of strong athletes and churned out many impressive groups during his 20 years of coaching Mariners track and field.
So when the longtime coach said this year’s team is probably the strongest he’s ever had, that’s saying something.
Each year it seems the perennial Class 2A track and field power receives strong performances from athletes competing in different events. This spring a lion share of those state meet points will certainly come from throwing events.
“We are very deep,” Carlson said. “I think across the board, in 2007 I had a real strong group, but we weren’t as deep, and we had four really strong kids. We had eight kids qualify (for the district meet) in the shot. It seems like in two grade levels, we are just loaded. And they are big kids. I’ve never had kids this size, so I feel blessed.”
Four years ago Drew Norvell and Chanelle Eddy came to Carlson as inexperienced throwers. Neither made state their freshman year, as they spent the season learning technique and strengthening their bodies.
Now the pair are favorites to bring home individual state titles when the Class 2A State Track and Field Championships get underway Thursday-Saturday, May 28-30, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
Norvell, who is the boys’ top seed in the shot put with a mark of 57 feet, 3.5 inches and second in the discus with a 153-8, and Eddy, whose 38-7 in the girls’ shot ranks fourth among contenders and her 124-10 in the disc ranks first, are the keystone pieces to what is a truly remarkable group.
Joining Norvell at state are teammates Tyler Haggen and Austin Rosas in the shot, and Haggen and Ben Malquist will be competing with Norvell in the discus.
In all, Sehome’s boys claimed six of the eight district spots available in the shot put and discus, and with the team’s immense amount of depth, the group has been able to prepare for state-level competition all season long.
“I think whenever you can compete against some of the top guys in the state day in and day out, it is definitely a benefit,” Carlson said. “It will humble you pretty fast that you have to be on it all the time.”
And at practice, with an exception for some comic relief, Sehome is fully engaged and committed to improving.
“We are pretty goofy, but we know when to focus during our throws,” Eddy said. “At practice, we are practicing like we are competing, so we’ll go one, one, one — go through the list. The guys go through their list from shortest to highest (distance) and try to beat each other, and the girls do the same thing.”
As good and deep as the Mariners are, oddly enough Norvell and Eddy are the team’s only four-year throwers. Carlson has a number of boys’ throwers who started as sophomores, and he credited Norvell’s gains for the reason they decided to come out.
Norvell has taken a leadership role with the boys’ team, but Carlson highlighted Eddy when asked who takes responsibility for leading the entire group.
“She has been just amazing this year, taking on that leadership role,” Carlson said. “She coordinates everything, putting together team dinners or getting on Facebook and letting kids know when practices are. She is really, I think, the heartbeat.”
Thanks to Eddy’s work and the natural brotherhood fostered on the boys’ side — many played football together and shared the same offensive line — the throwing group has become extremely close, which has proved beneficial.
But what Carlson sees as his team’s most admirable trait is the courage they display, especially when competing.
“They are really willing to put it out there and take the risk,” Carlson said. “And I think that helps when you have those (close) kind of relationships within the team. It’s easy to be great when everything is going right. I think the tried mark is what happens when it’s going wrong.”
Eddy and Haggen performed their best with their backs against the wall at the district meet, throwing their best on their last throws, and Sehome will surely be looking to bring that same attitude this weekend.