By Doug Drowley
Special to The Seattle Times
Penn building on early success
Tyson Penn’s first high school track experience set the bar high.
Last May, the Federal Way freshman won the 4A state title in the high jump for the Federal Way Eagles. His points also contributed to a state team championship that sent Eagles coach Sam Beesley into retirement on a high.
It was a senior-laden squad that led Federal Way in 2013.
But the Eagles, and Penn, aren’t about to concede anything a year later.
“We have a lot to prove to everybody,” Penn said. “We’re still a great team. We have a lot of returns taking on new roles, trying to do more to make sure the team can get a state title.”
Penn, now a sophomore, has followed that philosophy.
Almost solely a high jumper a year ago, Penn now is developing his skills in the other jumping events – the triple and long jumps. This season, his focus he says, is on adding the triple jump to his state repertoire.
Just in the last week, Penn has jumped personal records twice.
The latest was on Wednesday, April 2, in a dual meet against Curtis. Penn leaped 45 feet, 1 inch. That still trails his senior teammate, Keenan Curran, who has the state’s best triple jump this spring of 46-9.25.
But that’s okay with Penn – for now. It was Curran, Penn said, that encouraged the sophomore to add the event this year.
“It was something that people kept telling me I’d be good at, because I’m long,” Penn said. “I like triple jump a lot.”
His goal for this season is to increase his personal best to at least 46 feet. By the time he’s a senior, Penn said he wants to be a state champion in all three jumping events.
He’s taking a methodical approach to that goal.
“I’m kind of doing one a year,” Penn said. “Last year, my mom really wanted me to focus on the high jump.”
That focus paid off in a state title. Already this spring, Penn has gone better than his winning 6 feet, 6 inch winning jump from Mount Tahoma a year ago.
Penn currently holds the state’s top mark in the high jump, with another personal record of 6-9 that he also set in the meet against Curtis this week.
Penn has been able to carry his track successes over to his fall endeavours, as a wide receiver for the Federal Way football team. Penn started to become a bigger part of the Eagles offense during the team’s playoff run last fall.
Despite not playing much during the regular season, Penn got nine targets during the post-season. He made six catches. Two of those were for touchdowns, though he actually made three catches in the end zone.
“It was in our last game (a semifinal loss to Chiawana). One of the officials came up to me afterwards and told me he had my foot on the wrong line, and I was in,” Penn said. “Football is my main sport. My main passion.”
That doesn’t keep him from having lofty goals in track, especially with the high jump, however.
“I’m really trying to go for 7-2” Penn said. “But I think 7-0 is probably more realistic.”
If Penn gets to 7-2, he’ll have honed in on the all-time state meet record in the event of 7-2¼. That mark has stood since 1978, when Terry Mills of Pateros cleared the bar at that height.
Record run for Dalzell
Skyline senior Dorie Dalzell got her season off to a rousing start at last week’s Eastmont Invitational in Wenatchee.
Dalzell was named the Athlete of the Meet after a performance that included a record-breaking run in the 400 meters. Dalzell ran the event in 57.79 seconds, breaking the mark of 58.4 that had stood for 26 years.
Dalzell also won the 200 meters, and ran a leg on the winning 4×400 relay team that currently owns the top time in the state – 4:04.43.
Invitationals This Week
As the calendar turns to April, the Saturdays start to become filled with invitational meets both local and state-wide. Below are a few of the more notable meets taking place this spring in Washington. As for this weekend, Saturday brings us three Invites in three parts of the state.
Renton Memorial Stadium plays host to the Arnie Young Invite. Up north, Civic Stadium in Bellingham will see the Birger Solberg Invitational. And Central Valley hosts its Invite on the east side of the mountains.
Invitationals of Note
The sum total of Invitational meets in the state are far too numerous to mention and discuss, but there are a few we wanted to be sure folks are aware of prior to league and district meets that start the week of May 6.
April 12 – Tacoma Invitational (Lincoln Bowl). 34 teams. Ballard, Mountlake Terrace, Bainbridge and King’s join a predominantly south Sound field.
April 19 – Pasco Invitational (Pasco). 104 teams. This is one of the most iconic of each spring’s meets, with teams from all over the state descending on the Tri-Cities area. Schools from 4A down to B compete.
April 19 – Larry Eason Invitational (Snohomish High). 41 teams. This marks the 26th year for the Eason Invite. Issaquah, Skyline, O’Dea, Holy Names and Archbishop Murphy join most of the Wesco schools and others.
May 3 – Shelton Invitational (Shelton). 74 teams. It’s the 54th year for Shelton, another iconic meet. Teams from every classification compete here, as well.
May 3 – Lake Washington Invitational (LWHS, Kirkland). 65 teams. Another long-running meet, shares this weekend with Shelton to bring 140 total schools into competition.
Who’s going where?
BYU – Ellie Heiden, Kamiakin
Kansas State – Dorie Dalzell, Skyline
Notre Dame – Alex Daugherty, Skyline
Oklahoma – Hannah Cunliffe, Federal Way
Know an athlete committed to college for track and field? Email Doug Drowley at email@example.com.