A flu-ridden Daniel Gaik was too weak to enter the blocks and defend his 400-meter title at the Kent All-City track and field meet May 3.
“It was tough,” the Kentwood junior sprinter said of his decision to stay home. “I didn’t have the appetite or the strength to practice.”
So Gaik used the time to recover. He returned last week to reassert his dominance in the 400 at the North Puget Sound League track and field meet at Auburn Memorial Stadium, May 8-9.
Admittedly not at his best, Gaik raw away from the field to capture the 400 title in 49.82 seconds, which nears his personal-best 49.28 clocking he set at the April 6 Arnie Young Invitational at Renton Stadium.
“It was a little slower than what I wanted, and the competition wasn’t there to push me,” said Gaik, who owns the second-best time in the 4A rankings, third swiftest among all schools in the state. “I thought I could have done better. … I’m looking for a better time next week, though.”
Gaik will be among the favorites at this week’s West Central/Southwest District meet at Sumner’s Sunset Stadium. The top seven finishers in each event advance to the state championships May 23-25.
Despite making up for a lost week to illness, Gaik is confident he will regain momentum in his push to qualify for state in the 400, where he finished eighth in the 4A finals a year ago.
“I’m in a pretty good position compared to last year,” he said. “I came in around 50.7 into league (last year) and this year I come in at 49.2, so I feel like I’m good position. I see myself on the podium, (placing) even higher than last year.”
Gaik has made noise in the shorter sprints.
At the league meet, he finished third in the 200 with a personal-record 22.15, the fifth quickest in the 4A rankings. He was seventh in the 100 (11.07), a race where he owns the fourth-best time in 4A at 10.84.
Other league meet highlights:
Setting the pace
Sophomore Emma Pollak is one of Kentwood’s brightest, young athletes.
Pollak owns the state’s fastest time in the 300 intermediate hurdles in 44.11 seconds and has the best 4A time in the 400 at 57.04, which she set at the All-City meet.
At the league meet, Pollak won a wind-blown 300 in 45.39 and the open 400 in 57.13.
“It went well but it wasn’t the race I was hoping for,” Pollak said after her 300 hurdles heat. “It didn’t feel as good as my previous races. … It’s hard to say (why), but you don’t get as much repetition because we now have the longer meets put up over multiple days. You don’t get as many practices in between.”
Pollak also qualified for district as the anchor of the Conquerors’ league meet-winning 800 relay that includes Jessica Robinson, Alaynah Reed and Makayla Williams. The foursome has the second-best 4A time this season at 48.57.
Teamed with Robinson, Williams and Faith Marshall, Pollak and Kentwood own the second-best 4A time in the 400 relay (48.57). The group took second behind heralded Tahoma in the league final.
Kent schools will bring plenty of speed to the district meet.
For Kent-Meridian, sophomore KD Dhillon qualified for district in three sprints at the league meet – 100 (third, 10.96, PR); 200 (fifth, 22.43, PR) and 400 (fifth, 52.10, PR). He also joined Jamar Craddieth, Ja’Vaughn Hylton and Ronald Wilson to advance in 400 relay (third, 42.98).
In girls competition, Kentridge’s Bonet Henderson delivered PRs in the 100 (third, 12.02) and 200 (second, 24.53). Both times are third best in the 4A rankings.
Henderson’s teammate, Lauryn “Lolo” Ford, was third in the 400 (59.49) and fourth in the 200 (season-best 25.13, fourth best in 4A). Ford and Henderson – with Sydnee Johnson and Jayme Erker – advanced to district in the sprint relay.
Kentwood’s Marshall moved on with a third in the 100 hurdles (14.71, PR) and a sixth in the 300 hurdles (48.84).
Kent athletes performed well in the field. K-M’s Aaron Tulloch won the shot put (50-9½) and was second in the discus with a PR of 161-7. … K-M’s Jordan Wigall finished third in the high jump (6-0). … Kentlake’s Justice Etafo finished second in the long jump (22-0¾) and wound up third in the javelin (172½, PR) and placed second in the long jump (22-0¾). … For the girls, K-M’s Amanda Pham captured the javelin (105-8) followed by KR freshman Saydi Orange (105-04). … Kentridge’s Alexis Mallory climbed 10 feet to take second in the pole vault.
Kent-Meridian finished sixth in the boys standings. … Kentridge wound up fifth in the girls race. … Tahoma won the boys and girls team titles … The district meet is Thursday and Saturday at Sumner’s Sunset Stadium. Field events begin 4 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Saturday. Running events begin at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Saturday.