The right shoes make all the difference.
That goes for fashion as well as for sports.
While Hanford High School senior Morgan Rasmussen always dresses the part, she didn’t always have the right shoes for the job at hand when it came to competing in track — until now.
She has the second-best mark in the high jump in the state this spring in the Class 3A rankings at 5 feet, 4 inches, and she owes it to her shoes.
“When I first joined track (as a sophomore), I didn’t know anything about the shoes,” Rasmussen said. “At the very end of the season, I borrowed a pair of spikes, and I PR’d in everything. After that, I started using sprinting spikes.”
It was a step up from her regular running shoes, which served their purpose until she blew out a toe at a meet toward the end of her sophomore season. She borrowed a pair of spikes from teammate Maddy Bingham, and the rest is history.
Her junior year, she wore running spikes for her relay events and the high jump. Little did she know at the time that there were specific shoes for high jumping.
She now owns a pair of white, black and blue Nike shoes for her premier event.
“It’s nice because my main event is the high jump,” said Rasmussen, who also does shot put. “When I curve to the mat, my heel doesn’t slide. I get my push off that. A lot of it was technique, but the shoes were part of that.”
Rasmussen participated in elite cheer until her freshman year and then started playing volleyball.
When she joined the track team, everyone convinced her that her years of tumbling would transfer nicely to the high jump.
“When I did elite cheer, we would do lots of tumbling, and I could do lots of back flips and stuff,” Rasmussen said. “I could get a lot of height.”
The first time Rasmussen jumped 5-4 was at the Davis Invite last year. She only has cleared the bar at the height three times.
The Davis Invite is today in Yakima, but Rasmussen will be out of town and won’t compete.
“It’s my good-luck meet,” Rasmussen said. “I will get back in the grind when I get back.”
Rasmussen placed second at the Mid-Columbia Conference meet last year at 5-4, was second at the MCC-Greater Spokane League regional meet at 5-2, then took eighth at state with another 5-2 leap.
“I want to improve on that,” Rasmussen said of her state finish.
Hanford coach Doug Bosted believes she will.
“Morgan is a specimen of an athlete,” he said. “She is tall, strong, athletic and very coachable. Our school record in the high jump is 5-8. I wouldn’t be surprised if she broke it.”
Rasmussen is one of several Falcons who have stepped to the forefront this season.
In everything from pole vault to hurdles to distance running, Hanford is filling the slots and earning points.
The Falcons topped Kamiakin at the Ram Relays in Yakima, handing the Braves their first loss in almost five years. They also beat Richland in a dual meet for the first time — a period that encompasses at least 35 years.
“Realistically, it has been perseverance,” Bosted said of creating a competitive team. “I look around the school and see the talented athletes we have. It is getting them to compete and convincing them it’s OK to compete in more than one sport. We have established a core, and that is where you see the depth.”
Senior pole vaulter Amanda Andersen was the first girl at Hanford to qualify for state in the event. She failed to clear the opening height, but it’s the experience that counts.
“Her goal as a freshman was to come in and break a school record (which she holds at 10-10) and go to state,” Bosted said. “She is on the diving team in the fall and goes to pole vault camps. She has an incredible drive.”
Sophomore Lele Williams and freshman Nyenuchi Okemgbo have taken to the hurdles. Williams has a top time of 45.94 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles and 16.82 in the 100 hurdles. Okemgbo has a 15.57 in the 100 hurdles and a 47.52 in the 300s.
“They are a step behind (Kamiakin’s Heather Donais, the reigning 3A state champion in both events), but racing against each other only makes all three of them better,” Bosted said. “They are driven and look up to her. That’s where they can be and want to be.”
Junior Hailey Cleavenger is the Falcons’ top distance runner, running the 1,600 and 3,200, while junior Kara Shibley competes in the shot put, javelin and discus.
Shibley was sixth in the shot put at the 3A state meet last spring, and she threw a personal best 38-4 at the Ram Relays last month.
Having good assistants is key. Girls cross country coach Sean Mars helps with the distance runners and has brought some of his runners to the track.
Andy Ashworth and Allen Wahlstrom have gotten the girls to try the hurdles and are helping them to succeed.
Hanford football coach Brett Jay is the jumps coach, and Tri-City physical therapist Jonathan Hughes is the discus coach.
“(Former coach) Clay Lewis comes out to lend a hand,” Bosted said. “He’s been coaching longer than I have been alive. We have an embarrassment of riches in coaches.”