GSL Athletes Use Leadership to Further Teams Successes

Cheney's Ryan Rieckmann and Shadle Park's Kyleigh won four events at the GSL Track Championships last week. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA; Nathan Clayton)

Rieckmann Takes On New Role in Senior Season

Cheney’s Ryan Rieckmann wasn’t always the fastest individual on the Blackhawks track team.

In fact, he was nowhere near the talent level of some of his teammates when he began to take on track his freshman year.

Athletes like Charles Johnson and Camden Verstrate had set the standard of what it took to be a great sprinter in Cheney’s program, winning a combined four state titles in the 100- and 200-meter races.

“I just didn’t have the motivation to want to do sprints early on,” said Rieckmann. “My whole high school career, we’ve had someone run in the 10’s for the 100, so I felt it wasn’t pushed on me to do sprints.”

But he did find his calling in a field event.

“In my freshman year, I came in only throwing javelin because I felt that was my best event,” Rieckmann said.

Rieckmann qualified for the 2018 2A State meet that season, where he placed 12th overall while throwing a season-best mark of 156 feet, five inches. The following year, he once again only focused only on the javelin, this time throwing a new personal best mark of 174 feet, two inches, and securing an eighth-place finish at the 2019 2A State meet.

Rieckmann would be one of the top returning throwers in 2021, but he wanted to contribute more to the team in his short senior season.

“I felt for the team that they needed me to do something else other than throw,” Rieckmann said. “My plan this year was just to throw, but I decided to take up sprints a little bit more seriously this year.”

In his first-year sprinting for Cheney, Rieckmann posted the No. 1 times in the GSL running 10.94 for the 100 and 22.27 for the 200.

“We knew he was fast,” said Cheney boy’s head coach Derek Slaughter. “But once we threw him into the 100 and 200, we saw his potential.”

Last week at the GSL 4A/3A Championships, Rieckmann won four events and helped lead Cheney to a fourth-place team finish scoring 32 of their 74 points.

In the 100 and 200, he posted finishing times of 11.03 and 22.40, and in the javelin, he threw 172 feet, 1 inch.

“I was just going after the GSL Championship in javelin at the beginning of the year,” Rieckmann said. “But to add on three more titles in sprints was really crazy, and it’s an accomplishment I am proud of. Never thought I could do that.”

Of the four events he had competed in, none were more impressive than his come from behind chase down in the 4x100 relay.

With under 100 meters to go, Central Valley’s Tegan Hoard took the final handoff in the lead and Rieckmann caught him with less than 20 meters at the finish to secure the win for Cheney.

“That meet was so much fun,” said Rieckmann. “Our relay team had been struggling with competition all year, so to finally have someone to chase down was so fun.”

Rieckmann has verbally committed to play football for Montana Western, but after this season, he has reconsidered his options moving forward to potentially run at the collegiate level.

“He had lost so much hope that he thought to be a good athlete, he would only have to throw javelin,” Slaughter said. “But now he was able to showcase all his talents in a short season because it’s just natural for him.”


Shadle Park's Archer Wins Four to Lead Highlanders to GSL 2A Team Title

The accolades continue to come along for Shadle Park’s Kyleigh Archer after wrapping up her first season of high school track.

But the sport is no stranger to Archer and her family.

“I joined track in middle school just for the fun of it and to try it out,” said Archer. “My dad was a track athlete in high school and college. After my first year, I liked it and wanted to continue with it.”

Already named the offensive MVP in the GSL 2A division for soccer earlier this year, Archer took home four individual titles at last week’s GSL 2A Championship meet and led the Highlanders to their first GSL team title since the 2007 season.

“Kyleigh is a once-in-a-decade type of athlete,” said Shadle Park head girls coach Nathan Clayton.

“Her leadership and athletic abilities create a competitive atmosphere and a championship culture within our program. I’ve been trying to promote this the last few years, and when you get an athlete who buys into that, everyone starts following.”

Archer had been the No. 1 sprinter all season long in the GSL 2A division, and with her first big-time meet coming right at her, all eyes would be on her at the start line.

“Going into the meet, I can say there were a lot more nerves,” said Archer. “Once I got into racing the 100, the person holding my blocks said my foot was shaking in the blocks.”

But then all the nerves calmed down after the gun went off.

“After that 100, I felt like that’s where I belonged,” said Archer. “I knew I was going to do well, and I had that confidence in myself. I won the first title, so why not take all of them?

Archer set personal best times in the 100 and 200 running 12.81 and 26.83, and jump her farthest in the long jump at 17 feet, half-an-inch. She also ran 62.09 in the open 400, less than a second off her personal best time from earlier this season.

“I’m really happy with the turnout over the course of the season,” Archer said. “I definitely got better, which is what you are looking for, especially in a short season.”

It’s not common to see a sprinter take down all three sprint events in a championship meet, but Archer’s ability on the soccer field carries over for her success.

“That transition from sport to sport has become easy now,” said Archer.

“I am a forward in soccer, so I actually get to use that speed a ton in track since I would take people on one versus one in a game. That’s how I have been able to meet a lot of my goals this track season.

Her four wins scored a quarter of her team’s 157 points en route to their team title to go along with those numbers.

“I wanted to do what I can to help the team win,” said Archer. “I switched from the 4x100 relay to the 400 after two meets just so we could get more points, and I was ready for it.”

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