Richland High’s Shanice Lakes had only dabbled in the triple jump during her high school career, never really giving it much consideration.
But after a chat with her brother (Shakeem) and sister (Shaniae) last summer, she decided to give the event a go.
She hasn’t looked back since, qualifying for the regional meet in an event that both siblings went to state in.
“I did it because my sister and brother were really good at it,” she said. “And I figured it was in our genes.”
Lakes will compete in the triple, shot put, 400 meters and 4x400-meter relay Friday and Saturday at the Class 4A Eastern Washington Regional meet at Spokane Falls Community College. The top two finishers in each event advance to Star Track XXXI the following weekend in Tacoma.
Based on history, the event is in her family’s blood.
Shaniae is at the University of Washington on a track and field scholarship and set the school record in the event last season. She also competed in the triple jump at the U.S. Track and Field Team Trials last summer in Eugene.
Older brother Shakeem is no slouch either. He only competed in track one year, but still won the regional title as a senior and advanced to the state meet.
“We’re just late bloomers,” Shanice Lakes said. “We all did really good senior year.”
Lakes has been to state in one event — the 4x200 relay as a junior — but has never had much individual success until this season.
And it is something that has everyone taking note.
“She had always been a good athlete, but a lot of things never really clicked with her,” Richland coach Jim Qualheim said. “She’s always been fast, but maybe a little bit of a work ethic changed this year. All her coaches noticed, ‘Wow, Shanice has a different attitude this year.’
“Kind of on a mission, and she seems to really want it, and that is a big difference.”
Lakes has the second best triple jump in the District 5/8 region, and the 11th best in Class 4A this year. Not bad for someone who has only done it nine times in competition.
“It’s really fun to watch and coach her,” Qualheim said, “and also a little bit sad. She is really coming into her own, and now she is going to graduate on us.”
Lakes also has the second best shot put and 400 mark in the region, while she anchors the second-best 4x400 relay.
She is hoping for big things this weekend.
“I’m trying not to be excited. I’m trying to be calm,” she said. “I never thought I’d be this good. I was terrible when I first started.”
At the end of her junior year, though, she started to realize she could be pretty good at her chosen sport, if she was willing to put in the extra effort.
She trained in the winter and had a few chats with family members that seemed to have paid off.
“We said, 'Shanice this is your senior year and you need to focus more,’ " her dad Melvin said. “We told her to go out and give it all you got — don’t go out there this year and be playing around. Leave your senior year doing the best you possibly can.”
Lakes seems to be doing just that, and she is hoping it pays off with some state berths this weekend.