Mens track makes strives towards postseason

Kelley Johnson, Senior Writer

Five meets to improve. Just under one month to prepare. All this leads to the one meet that decides everything: the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) State Track Meet.
From its first competitive meet in March, Liberty mens track has had top State contenders, which have included junior hurdler and sprinter Nate Solly, who is ranked sixth in the 300 meter hurdles; junior and senior distance runners Andrew Cooper and Trevor Sytsma, who are ranked second and fourth in the 1600 meter run, respectively; and senior jumper Andrew Baugh, who is ranked second in high jump.
“Being ranked in State isn’t the hard part,” Solly said. “Actually making it past Sub-Districts and Districts, and then performing well at the State meet is what is really hard to do.”
Solly has high hopes of not only making it to the State meet, but also of breaking the eighteen year-old school record in the 300 meter hurdles of 39.05 seconds, which was set by his former basketball coach, Kris Powers. Solly’s quickest time is currently 41.21 seconds.
“Breaking that record is one of my biggest goals because by doing so I wouldn’t only be setting a record at Liberty, but also that time would put me the top three at State,” Solly said.
As for Sytsma and Cooper, their battles began long before the start of this season. Over the summer, the runners ran over sixty miles a week, and now that track has come, they continue to run over fifty miles a week, along with other workouts. And this kind of training is paying off for the duo: Sytsma started his season with an eight second improvement over his last year’s best in the 1600 meters and Cooper has improved his times with every meet. Sytsma’s personal best for this year is 4:22.60 and Cooper’s is 4:21.84. With these achievements, they are optimistic for the postseason.
“I want to be in the top three for both Sub-Districts and Districts,” Sytsma said. “Based on my ranking right now, I really think there’s a possibility of me winning this year, which would be huge.”
With four regular season and four invitational meets under the belt of the track team this spring, sprint coach Mark Little has a lot of faith in not just these State individual contenders, but in the 4×400 relay team and other runners on the team as well.