Terrynce Duke makes you wonder about what might have been.
The West Valley senior completed an outstanding football career – capped by a second-straight season as first-team All-Great Northern League offensive and defensive pick, adding a third first-team selection as a kick returner.
And Duke’s had a solid basketball career at West Valley as well.
But now, in his final months as an Eagle, Duke has unveiled a splendid ability as a track athlete – owning the best Class 2A mark in the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 10 1/4 inches. His marks in the 100 meters, 200 meters, high jump and as part of the 4x100 relay team all are among the 2A’s best in Eastern Washington.
“I do stop and wonder what might have been if I had done this sooner,” Duke said. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me I should be out for track ever since I got here, and my mom was a great track athlete when she was in high school – that’s where I get my talent.
“I guess I just have a knack for this.”
To say the least.
“Right now he’s still just a ball of clay,” boys track coach Vic Wallace said. “He’s still in need of molding.
“He’s been looking at playing college football and I know he’s been talking with Eastern Washington. If that works for him, great, but I think he has a chance to be a two-sport athlete somewhere. Maybe at a junior college to start with. You can’t look at what he’s accomplished so far this year and not imagine what he could do with some more coaching.”
One of the area’s top sprint coaches, Wallace has Duke running an 11.29-second 100 meters.
“He’s still learning how to use the blocks and how to lean down the track at the start,” he said. “He’s doing what he’s doing mostly on natural ability.”
Well, there is some extra urging.
“My mom wanted to see my brother, Tevin, and me play basketball together – be on the court together at the same time,” Duke said. “We got pretty close to that this year, but we didn’t quite make it, but I was really impressed with how much he improved this season.”
Track has given the siblings a second chance.
“Now we’re on the track together in the 4x100,” he said. “It’s special to me – I get to hand the baton off to my brother.”
The squad is second only to the defending state champions from Ephrata in Eastern Washington in the sprint relay. The Tigers have circled the track in 44.06 seconds while the Eagles’ are less than an eye blink slower, turning in a best time of 44.17.
“We’re going to get a chance to run against them at the regional meet in Prosser,” Wallace said. “Hopefully we will run against them at state, too.”
Duke is the quintessential athlete from a coaches recruiting parable: You have two athletes who are equally fast. One has picture-perfect technique, the other less so. Which do you recruit? The second runner – with improved technique, that athlete will be even faster.
“I’ve cleared 6-4 in the high jump, but I haven’t done it in a meet yet,” he said. “I don’t arch my back the way you really need to going over the bar. If I jump right next to someone who does, for some reason, I seem able to be better at it”
The long jump success Duke enjoys is perhaps the most impressive. His personal best is more than a foot farther than his nearest area challenger.
“I guess I have a natural hitch when I jump that no one ever taught me,” Duke said. “And I don’t land quite the way I should. But when I jumped 22-10 1/4, I was shocked. I thought I’d cleared 22 feet, but when the guy read off the tape and said ‘22-10 1/4,’ I actually did a double take. I said ‘you have to be kidding!’ I was stunned.”