Lake Washington High coach Roger Hansen, a member of the Washington State Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame, has seen a lot of stellar performances during his years on the scene.
Last week, he was simply blown away by Xavier Betancourt’s showing in the Kangs’ 4×100-meter relay during a tri-meet with Juanita and Redmond at Lake Washington. Hansen shook his head while praising Betancourt, a foreign exchange student from Ecuador who is part of the 3A KingCo-leading relay that held a time of 43.78 at press time. Other Kangs tearing it up in the relay are Samuel Showalter, Franco Oliveri and Cody Wilson.
In his first year on the squad, Betancourt was also tops in KingCo at press time in the 200 meters (22.42), 400 meters (50.56) and 300 hurdles (40.37). He stands among the state elite in those events.
“It was really exciting because I didn’t know that I could do that good,” said Betancourt before last week’s meet. “I’m talking with my coach from Ecuador as well as my coach from here. We were talking about practicing more my endurance so I can get better at the 400 meters and the 300 hurdles, so that’s gonna be the key factor that takes me to state.”
Betancourt, a senior, moved to Kirkland seven months ago to study English, and said he wants to take computer science classes in college to break into the hi-tech field. While he misses his family in Ecuador, he has local ties with his aunt and uncle living in this area and working at Microsoft.
“It’s kind of different from Ecuador, but I really love it here,” he said. “I was struggling the first two months because I was trying to learn English at the same time I was studying. I feel really welcomed by all the people here, I met a lot of friends and I’m having a good time here.”
He feels at home on the track, first training with the Speed Unlimited club during the indoor season and then unleashing his talent with LW this spring.
LW’s Wilson is also tearing it up in the 100 meters and stood atop the KingCo list at press time with a mark of 11.09, which puts him among the state leaders.
The senior has been to state three years and also hits big on the football field.
“What I like about track is the individuality of it. It’s kind of my fault if I do bad,” said Wilson, who was fourth in KingCo at press time in the 200 meters with a 23.04 mark. “When it doesn’t rain like today, it’s such a nice time to run and have the sun on you and chat with friends and compete.”
Wilson enjoys the improvement aspect of track, working hard on his start and stride and seeing solid results.
“Crossing the finish line, knowing you’re first, it just feels so good,” he said.
On the Juanita side, there’s junior Ryan Greenwalt, who was first in KingCo in the long jump at press time with a mark of 21-7. He was third in the 100 meters in 11.30 and third in the 200 meters in 22.83.
He was thrilled to notch his personal best and win the long jump at the recent Terrace Invite at Edmonds Woodway. Last year, his top mark was 21-4, so he keeps moving up the ladder and hopes to qualify for state this season in the long jump and 200 meters.
Greenwalt said he’s good at juggling many events and noted that the keys to success are taking care of his body, stretching out a lot and using his soccer endurance to his advantage.
“Usually before my race I get in the zone, kind of just do my own thing, do the warm up,” said Greenwalt, who’s been running track since sixth grade. “When I’m not racing, I like cheering on my teammates and it’s awesome to see them get PRs. I love the environment, it’s very relaxed but also competitive at the same time.”
Along with achieving great results, Greenwalt has gained leadership skills on the track and encourages his teammates to not only reach for improvement but support each other at meets.
• Other Kirkland 3A KingCo leaders at press time were: LW — Jacob Smith in the discus (133-5); Brady Gockel in the javelin (173-6); Claire Cocales in the 3,200 (11:37.99); Taryn Chisholm in the 100 hurdles (16.21) and 300 hurdles (47.94); 4×100 relay of Kaysha Walford, Thayer Davis, Chisholm and Yael Pasumansky (50.46); and Mathilda Smith in the high jump (5-0). Juanita — Katrina Teo in the pole vault (10-9).
Among the local 3A state leaders at press time were: Gockel in the javelin, Cocales in the 3,200, Chisholm in both hurdles, the LW 4×100 relay and Teo in the pole vault along with LW’s Brittany Blaskovich (10-6).