First look at the top girls hurdlers to watch in the 2023 track and field season.
It was one of the strongest hurdle seasons the state has seen in a while on the girls side.
The talent was as good as ever, especially from the senior class who have now moved on to bigger and better things. Replacing those efforts won't be an easy task and perhaps may not be repeated for a while.
This year's returning group is full of competitors who've all competed at their respective state meets last year and will be in the hunt to each win a state title of their own.
Here's a look at the top girls hurdlers to watch for this season.
Kalia Estes, Kamiak
Progress is the best way to put Kalia Estes' junior season. The improvements she made in both the 100 and 300 hurdles are ones which stood out among last year's top hurdlers given where she was at the beginning of the season and towards the end. Estes went from running 17.94 to 15.75 and 48.89 to 45.53, leading her to finish the year at the 4A state meet as she placed fourth in both the 100 and 300 hurdle races. Following the school season, Estes qualified for the USATF National Junior Olympics in the 400 hurdles and finished fourth overall (1:01.56) to earn all-American honors for the 17-18 age group. Indoor has a bee good start to the senior season for Estes, running a personal best time of 9.33 in the 60 hurdles at the UW High School Invitational.
JaiCieonna Gero-Holt, Emerald Ridge
Athletes like JaiCieonna Gero-Holt are a once-in-a-generational type. While she's known for her abilities in the multis, Gero-Holt was the top short-sprint hurdler in the state as a freshman last spring. She ran a personal best time of 14.49 at the Washington State Combined Events Championships just a week after winning the 4A state title in the event in a previous best time of 14.71. Gero-Holt's freshman campaign was highlighted by four state titles won, two national titles won and an appearance at the U20 World Championship in Cali, Colombia where she competed in the heptathlon and finished 17th with a score of 5,212 points. She's begun this year with a few appearances in the 60 hurdles, including a personal best performance of 8.96 at the Spokane High School Invitational.
Hana Moll, Capital
Hana Moll isn't just a phenomenal pole vaulter; she proved to be one of the best hurdlers in the state last season. The University of Washington commit knocked her 100 hurdles time down by almost 1.5 seconds from her sophomore year time of 16.07 to run 14.66 in her junior year. Her personal best time was run at the 3A state meet where she won the 100 hurdles final over former Hazen great Liv Conklin in a close race. Moll also led Capital to a team title with another winning performance in the 4x100 relay final and a second-place finish in the pole vault behind twin sister Amanda. Moll won the U20 World Championship title in the women's pole vault last summer in Cali, vaulting 14 feet, 3.25 inches.
Ari Nguyen, Mercer Island
Another hurdler looking to build off a much-improved year will be Mercer Island's Ari Nguyen. Following a slow start to the year, Nguyen picked things up at the end of her junior season in the 100 and 300 hurdles and qualified for both events at the 3A state. In the 100 hurdles, Nguyen ran a lifetime best 15.58 to finish fourth overall in the final, then followed with a 45.36 personal best effort in the 300 hurdles to place fifth. Nguyen has signed to hurdle with Western Washington University next school year.
Josie Settle, Kelso
While Gero-Holt is the face of the multis, Kelso's Josie Settle is another talent to keep an eye out for in various events, especially the 300 hurdles. The Idaho State University commit came close to breaking 45 seconds last spring in the 300s as she ran 45.04 to place fourth overall at the 3A state meet. She totaled four medals that weekend, including a state title in the triple jump. Settle also competed in the 100 hurdles a handful of times and ran a personal best time of 15.56. Settle was the AAU Region 21 champion in the heptathlon, scoring 4,163 points. She won five of the seven events in the field.
Others to watch:
Lavender Bell, Graham-Kapowsin
- Ran personal best times of 17.26 and 46.38. Placed seventh in the 300 hurdles at 4A state.
Emma Fisher, Mark Morris
- Ran personal best times of 17.84 and 46.85. Placed second in the 300 hurdles at 2A state.
Shiney Mayanja, Kentridge
- Ran a personal best time of 15.89. Placed fifth in the 100 hurdles at 4A state.
Jordyn True, Colville
- Ran a personal best time of 15.69. Placed second in the 100 hurdles at 1A state.
Afton Wood, Okanogan
- Ran personal best times of 16.79 and 46.46. Placed second in the 100 and 300 hurdles at 2B state.