Hannah Cunliffe, already one of the top high-school sprinters in the nation as a freshman, is among things to watch this season in girls track and field.
1 How fast (and how much) will freshman Hannah Cunliffe run for Decatur?
Cunliffe created a buzz before ever stepping on the track in a high-school meet. Only a freshman, she is already one of the top high-school sprinters in the country and has beaten her share of college runners.
Running the 100 and 200 meters for the first time this season at the Arcadia (Calif.) Invitational on Saturday, she ran state-best times of 11.99 and 24.71 seconds.
She's never opened up a season under 12 before, said her father and personal coach, Mike. She's maturing.
Home-schooled, Hannah lives in Federal Way and competes for Decatur, a 3A school, although to date her one appearance was anchoring the 400 relay a week and a half ago — and the Gators already had the lead by the time she got the baton.
Sam Hunt, the Decatur coach, said fans will see more of her soon. She is expected to compete in the Eason Invitational in Snohomish on Saturday — possibly in as many as four events — and at the Lake Washington Invitational in Kirkland on April 30. She may also run in the Bill Harris Invitational in Federal Way on April 19.
Mike Cunliffe said Hannah hopes to open some eyes in the long jump this season.
She jumped 16-1 when she was 11, he said, noting she has gone 18-4 in practice.
He said she also wants to help her teammates score points in the 400 relay. Hunt said Hannah works out regularly with the high-school team in addition to her private training sessions.
It's been interesting to see, he said. She fits in really well.
2 Can Kentwood's Holly DeHart go out a double winner?
DeHart dreamed of a double at last year's Class 4A state meet as a junior.
That was my goal, she said.
She recorded the fastest qualifying times in the preliminaries, but didn't have her best race in the finals of the 100 and wound up third — in part because she had been throwing up right before the race.
But no excuses, DeHart said.
She didn't need any in the 200 later that day, and admitted the disappointment in the 100 helped motivate her to win it.
I just wanted to leave everything out there and just get that title, she said. I wasn't going to lose again.
This season, she is focusing on lowering her times in hopes of enhancing her scholarship chances. She hopes to hit 24 seconds (or below) in the 200 and dip below 12 in the 100.
And of course she'd still love those twin titles.
3 The Amy-Eloise Neale vs. Maddie Meyers watch
Neale and Meyers are friendly rivals who don't get many opportunities to line up against one another, although they are both distance runners.
Neale is a sophomore at Glacier Peak, a Class 3A school, while Meyers is a junior at the 1A Northwest School. But running brought them together about five years ago.
We know each other pretty well, Meyers said. Once we're racing, we're pretty competitive against each other. Outside of that, we cool down together and we'll talk. We've trained with each other. It's a pretty healthy competition.
I think some of our best races are against each other.
The went head-to-head in the women's invitational mile last Saturday at the Arcadia Invitational, with Neale getting the win.
Last year, Meyers had the state's fastest times in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 — sweeping all three at the 1A meet. Neale won the 3A 1,600 and 3,200.
Last fall, Meyers set a course record in winning the 1A cross country title in 17:34. Two hours later Neale broke it, winning her race in 17:31.8.
4 Maddie Magee is big-time high jumper at little Bear Creek
Magee is already picking up where she left off in the high jump.
Magee, a junior, matched her career high of 5 feet, 8 inches in the first meet of the season and has the state lead.It felt great, she said. It's exciting to see what I can do for the rest of the season.
She won a state title last season after taking second as a freshman for 2B Bear Creek of Redmond. She has big goals this season.
I'd like to jump 5-10 and make my way up from there, she said.
Magee, who is 5-11, also plays basketball and was co-captain of the Grizzlies' state-playoff team.
5 WIAA does homework to check for infractions
With more athletes taking part in open and invitational indoor meets against college competitors, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association had to take a close look at interpreting eligibility rules.
We had to do some research, said Teresa Fisher, WIAA executive director who oversees track and field.
It's not a new situation — top high-school athletes have competed for their club teams or unattached in these events for years. But the increased frequency has brought more attention to them. And WIAA rules prohibit high-school kids from competing with college athletes who are scoring points for their college teams.
Fisher said at least one track and field athlete had to apply to the WIAA for reinstatement after competing in such a meet, which was granted.
As long as no team scores are kept, there is no infraction, according to Fisher.
Then it's just more like a glorified practice session, she said.