TRACY WALTERS INVITATIONAL
Audubon Park, Spokane, WA
By David "Hawaiian Five-Oh" Taylor
The season is upon us and no meet in the state of Washington will be as closely watched as this years Tracy Walters Invitational taking place at Audubon Park in Spokane, Washington featuring the class of 4A and 3A for Washington State as well as Idaho surprise Coeur D' Alene High School.
The Tracy Walters Invitational invites 6 to 7 state caliber teams from across Washington and Idaho to compete in a special event of excellence. The intent of which is, in the words of Coach Knight, the organizer and North Central High Head Coach, "to provide a very quick early season meet that will eventually become a national caliber event". With three of this years attendees making the National Top 50 list and two in the National top 25 it certainly has become just that, a national caliber meet displaying the very best the U.S. has to offer!
Coach Knight went on to say that his Defending National Champions Boys Team is "progessing nicely and is very interested to see how they standup against top level competition". With Nationally Ranked Ferris High (#1 Harrier/#10 Milesplit) as well as a top notch team hailing out of Coeur D' Alene, Idaho, finding competitors hungry for competition will not be an issue.
Early season shocker CD'A High out of Northern Idaho recently leveled in-state competition at the Bonnersferry Invitational scoring a remarkably low 26 points. Coeur D' Alene is led by Sophomore sensation Cody Curtis who popped onto the national radar in 2007 with a 4:39 mile as an 8th grader; just this last spring he posted times of 4:23 for the mile and 9:38 for the two mile, remarkable times for a Freshman of any era. Sending a message to Spokane counterparts, CD'A High Placed 5 runners in the top 10 with a solid top 3 taking places 2-4. What is remarkable is that this invitational also featured 2008 Footlocker Finalist Cody Helbling.
At this years invitational all competitors will find a more than adequate bar to measure themselves against.
NOTABLE TEAMS TO BE IN ATTENDANCE:
FERRIS HIGH: HARRIER U.S. #1 / MILESPLIT U.S. #10; RETURNS ENTIRE VARSITY SQUAD AND LOOKS TO DOMINATE IN 2009.
NORTH CENTRAL HIGH: HARRIER U.S. #14 / MILESPLIT U.S. #18; DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPIONS WITH 3 RETURNING SCORERS, LOOKS TO REMAIN AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN.
COEUR D'ALENE HIGH (IDAHO): BONNERS FERRY INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONS, SCORING 26 POINTS IN A MEET THAT FEATURED U.S. #5 RETURNER CODY HELBLING OF LAKE CITY H.S., ID.
OTHER ATTENDEES: Bellevue, WA; Seattle Prep, WA; Central Valley, WA; Kamiakin, WA; Olympia, WA; Richland, WA.
Stay tuned for onsite coverage of this monumental true invitational which will include interviews, pictures, and video coverage.
Historical Perspective on Tracy Walters courtesy of Eastern Washington University:
"After a running career at North Central High School in Spokane and Eastern Washington, Walters became a huge contributor to the distance running legacy of Spokane. A 1949 graduate of North Central, Walters finished fifth in the mile at the 1952 NAIA Championships and had a career best mile of 4:17. He graduated from Eastern in 1953 and was called by legendary Eastern coach Red Reese as "one of my best milers ever." Walters went on to coach at Rogers High School in Spokane in the 1960's, and his track teams had a 48-4 dual meet record in 10 years. Rogers won seven Spokane City League titles and a pair of cross country state championships, and in 1964 he was the Spokane Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS) Coach of the Year. One of his athletes, Gerry Lindgren, set numerous national high school records and qualified for the 1964 U.S. Olympic Team as a high school senior. Walters left Rogers to coach San Jose State to third place in the 1966 NCAA cross country meet, but he returned to Spokane after just one year away. He twice served as a coach for U.S. national teams and helped train Don Kardong for the 1976 Olympics (he finished fourth). Kardong founded the Bloomsday road race in Spokane in 1977, and for more than 30 years Walters was the popular finish line voice of the race. In 1993, Walters was inducted into the Bloomsday Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame in 1987, and in 1995 was an inaugural inductee in the Washington Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Leta ('69 Eastern grad), were married on March 27, 1951, and lived in "Trailerville" during their time in Cheney attending Eastern. For 34 years they owned and operated the Walters Fruit Ranch in Green Bluff near Spokane, and from 1968-72 ran nearby Camp Reed for the YMCA of the Inland Northwest. They had four children, including son Kelly, who became head track and cross country coach at North Central and has since developed his own distance running legacy at the school. Tracy has served as an assistant coach for his son at North Central, helping the school win three recent State 3A track titles (boys in 2008 and 2009, girls in 2006) and three State 3A cross country championships (boys in 2006, 2007 and 2008)."