Kamiakin's Fletcher racks up miles -- and medals

September 13, 2012 

Here’s the thing you need to know about dealing with Michelle Fletcher:

If she offers to be on your 3-on-3 street hoops team or fill in for an out-of-town softball player, say yes.

If she picks you for her lab partner in chemistry or wants to start a debate team, don’t hesitate.

When it comes to competition and achievement, it is better to have Fletcher with you than against you, because as often as anyone in the area, she caps seasons with state trophies in her hands.

“She has been on a lot of state trophy teams,” said Kamiakin cross country coach Shaun Suss, for whom Fletcher has run the last four years. “The thing is, that is what Michelle is -- she’s part of teams. She’s a solid individual athlete, but as a teammate, she does her part. She does a little bit of everything really well. Maybe it’s not complete domination in any one thing, but she’s an incredible athlete.”

To wit: Fletcher has lofted five state trophies in three years, including the big gold one in track and field this past spring and in gymnastics in 2011.

She won an individual state title in vault as a sophomore when the Braves won the gymnastics crown, that after she won the all-around regional title as a freshman.

In track, she’s a key competitor in the distance races and on the 4x400-meter relay team, which finished sixth in 2011 and second this past spring. The Kamiakin girls was second in the team race in 2011 before winning it all in 2012.

In cross country, Fletcher has been the No. 1 or 2 runner for the Braves since her first race as a freshman, and has helped build the team into a state power with back-to-back fourth-place finishes in 2010-11. Along the way, she finished in seventh and 11th place at state the last two years, and she likely will become the first Kamiakin girl to qualify individually for state all four seasons.

Presented with all those accomplishments, Fletcher handles it with her typical gracious manner.

“I’m just so thankful to go to a school where success is kind of how you’re raised as a freshman,” she said. “It’s kind of the expectation, and you don’t want to let anyone down.”

It is that kind of attitude that Suss has come to appreciate, especially when Fletcher, as one of the few seniors on a young but talented squad, took over organizing summer workouts, getting the freshmen on the right track and even helping with pairing up roommates for road trips.

She has set a tone that her teammates gladly follow.

“She’s been awesome,” said junior Megan Beauchene, a soccer convert who also excels in track. “Right from the first day of summer, she did not hesitate to talk to every single freshman who came out. She knew all their names -- I was so impressed.”

“The thing about Michelle,” Beauchene added, “she just loves to run. She will run all day. I complain a lot, but Michelle just loves it.”

With perfect grades and a strong athletic resume, Fletcher likely won’t have much trouble finding a college at which to run and study dentistry.

Much more difficult would be adding another state title in a third sport, achieving a triple crown of sorts. The Braves no doubt have the strength to challenge for a big spot on the podium, possibly as high as second. But it is no slap in the face to say they have an uphill battle to catch up with top-ranked and nationally regarded Glacier Peak.

“That would just mean the world to me,” Fletcher said, sighing at the thought. “If I think about it, I get goose bumps. That would be so cool. To be part of something bigger than one person, it’s so much more rewarding.

“We definitely want to place at state again. We were ranked second (in the preseason coaches poll), and that would be great. But who knows? Maybe we could get that title, I don’t know. You can never say never, you know, because you never know what’s going to happen. The same goes for me. I’m looking at state and thinking top five (individually) at state is pretty ambitious. But who knows? I like to dream big.”

Indeed she does, and she has plenty of inspiration.

“My room is an inspiration zone -- lots of quotes everywhere,” Fletcher said. “Right above my bed, I have my state medals because they’re most important to me. I have quite a few, but I have the one gold from gymnastics.

“I like to look at that and dream.”

w Kevin Anthony: 582-1403; kanthony@tricityherald.com

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