Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography Mercer Island track athlete Kendra Watson, left, rounds the corner while competing in the 300-meter hurdles at the Class 3A state track meet on May 27 at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

Islanders complete memorable 2017 track season

The Mercer Island girls and boys track teams turned in a season to remember in 2017.

Eight Islanders athletes consisting of Hampus Carlens (high jump, triple jump), Kendra Watson (300 hurdles, 800 relay), Maya Virdell (800 relay, 1600 relay), Maggie Baker (400, 800 relay, 1600 relay), Eliza Crenshaw (800 relay), Ella Hensey (800 relay, 1600 relay), Ellie Bailey (1600 relay) and Gretchen Blohm (800 relay, 1600 relay) competed at the Class 3A state track meet May 24-27 at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

Carlens also captured first place in high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 4 inches at the Class 3A KingCo meet on May 12 at Skyline High School. Mercer Island senior Andy Bliss captured first place at the Class 3A KingCo meet in the shot-put with a toss of 47 feet, 2.5 inches.

Mercer Island track coach Sam Gadbury was especially proud of the senior class this past spring.

“Nate Benson is a great runner for us and was a hair away from qualifying for districts in three events (3,200, 1,600, 1,600 relay). In all three events he was fourth place in KingCo, not qualifying [districts], but still having better times than other qualifiers from other leagues. He was one of our captains too,” Gadbury said. “Chris Yee was also a captain of ours who ran well in open events and relays. His [400] relay team got eighth in districts, which was just .2 seconds from qualifying for state.”

Gadbury said senior Jaelin Tate competed in the high jump, long jump, 400 relay and 1600 relay. Islanders senior Rose Weiker competed in the pole vault and relay races as well. Junior Chloe Michaels, who competed in the 3,200 and 1,600, just barely missed advancing to districts during the 2017 season.

“She was one of our best captains and a key personality on our team. She was incredibly encouraging and helpful as well as being a fierce competitor,” Gadbury said of Michaels.

The Islanders unfortunately suffered from the injury bug throughout the duration of the season.

“We had a number of injuries this year to our team, with a number of those girls coming back next year. Kayla Lee is a team leader and state athlete and Tessa Fisk will come back as a district thrower. Ben Stoops is a captain of ours and was injured early on and battled through those injuries all season. All of them are good athletes who would have been in the postseason for us,” Gadbury said.

The coach was also impressed with the improvement of athletes Teague Frazier, Blake Ashton, Alex Benson, Leah Wooton and Katherine McCormick throughout the 2017 season. Gadbury said the Islanders track teams are competitive and inclusive.

“The girls team continually places athletes in state events and our boys team every year qualifies more athletes and finishes in higher positions in districts. Both teams also do a great job at helping new athletes find a home on the track team,” Gadbury said. “Every season, we get athletes from other sports looking to make an impact in track. Those athletes always feel there is a place for them on the track team.”

The Islanders team captains in 2017 were Kayla Lee, Ben Stoops, Yee, Benson, Weiker and Michaels.

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