TACOMA — To say it was a good weekend would be an understatement.
Team Evolution, a local youth track and field organization, brought home eight gold medals and 16 top three finishes after competing at the USA Track & Field Pacific Northwest Association Junior Olympic Championships at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
The event featured 40 of the state’s top club teams competing to earn an invitation to the regional championships on July 5-8 in Bend, Oregon.
Ten Team Evolution athletes qualified for the regional meet by claiming hardware in Tacoma, led by a very familiar name to Twin Harbors area sports fans. Former Raymond High School standout and eight-time WIAA state champion, Karlee Freeman was up to her usual crowd-pleasing performances as she swept the Girls 17-18 year-old discus and shot put competitions. Freeman dominated the field, winning the discus with a throw of 50.10 meters — nearly 10 meters better than Tahoma Track Club’s Jordan Fong (40.19, 2nd place) — and tossing the shot put a personal-best 15.07 meters, which according to Evolution head coach Shaun Straka Sr., was the second longest throw in state history in Freeman’s age bracket.
But Freeman’s highlight performance was just one of many Evolution had over the weekend, as seven additional athletes qualified for the regional meet.
In the girls competition, Freeman was joined by McKenzie Salazar, who swept both the Girls 15-16 division discus (29.55) and shot put (12.66) with PR throws.
Tyara Straka equalled Salazar’s feat in the Girls 13-14 group, winning the discus (32.25) and shot put (13.24) with personal bests.
Rylee Brooks placed second in the Girls 9-10 shot put competition with a mark of 7.19, a personal best, and Mataya Straka placed third in the Girls 13-14 discus (24.80) and fourth in the shot put (11.05), both PR marks.
On the boys side of the competition, JaBron Brooks won the 13-14 shot put with a PR mark of 12.68 meters. He was closely followed by teammate Nathan Ivey Jr. who finished third with a PR heave of 11.79. Ivey also placed third in the 13-14 discus with a PR throw of 33.33.
The Straka name wasn’t just prevalent in the girls competition as Joseph Straka won the Boys 11-12 discus with PR throw of 18.33. His twin brother Shaun Straka Jr. placed second with a PR toss of 15.24. The brothers also placed third and fourth, respectively, in the Boys 11-12 shot put competition — Joseph with a mark of 8.39 and Shaun with a measurement of 8.10 (tied for fourth place). Younger brother Erik Straka took second place in the Boys 9-10 shot put with a mark of 5.42 meters, a personal record.
“Team Evolution had some amazing performances,” head coach Shaun Straka Sr. said. “We had eight champions and 10 kids qualify for regionals.”
For full meet results, visit athletic.net and search “USATF Pacific Northwest Association Junior Olympics.”