The Lake City boys track team has never had the depth of sprinters it has this year.
Nor have the Timberwolves had this much raw speed in the school’s 20-year history.
Seniors Chris Baker, Nathan Newby, Rikki McCaw and Rhet Damschen and junior Jerry Louie-McGee are front and center among Lake City’s talented sprinters. They’re a part of school records in the 400- and 800-meter relays, and Baker has individual records in the 100 and 200.
If things go as hoped, the Timberwolves will bring home gold when the State 5A meet begins Friday and ends Saturday at Boise’s Dona Larsen Park.
A team championship isn’t likely. Three-time defending champ Rocky Mountain is heavily favored to run away from the field. But the Timberwolves are the favorite to finish runner-up.
The 2007 LC team finished second. For coach Kelly Reed, who was around in 2007, there’s no question where this year’s team stacks up.
“This is our best team in school history,” Reed said. “It’s not even close.”
LC showed the kind of team it has in early April when it captured the team title at the Pulse Invitational in Meridian. All the Boise-area 5A teams competed except Rocky Mountain, which sent most of its top athletes to the Arcadia Invitational in Los Angeles.
Louie-McGee, Newby, McCaw and Baker combined to run a school-record time of 1 minute, 28.18 seconds in the 800 relay.
Damschen, Newby, McCaw and Baker combined to post 42.34, a school record, in the 400 relay at the District I Meet of Champions.
Both of those times rank first in the state. Newby, McCaw, Louie-McGee and Jake Finney have the fourth-best time in the 1,600 relay.
“A number of them put in a lot of time in the offseason,” Reed said. “And the level of commitment this season has been amazing. Student-athletes’ lives are so insanely busy in our society today. They work, they have college visits and they battle injuries. It’s difficult to get all the kids together all the time. It seems more difficult every year to get everybody on the same page for the duration of the season.”
But Reed’s talented quintet saw something special coming into the season. McCaw, who bypassed last year to play club soccer after doing track his first two years, and Newby, who played baseball a year ago, have been invaluable additions.
“To just go out and run, it isn’t fun for any of us,” Newby said. “But we make it fun.”
If they had a sprint off, Baker would be first to the finish line. Newby and Louie-McGee are next, followed by Damschen and McCaw.
“When they’re at practice, they’re there to work,” Reed said.
Reed said each sprinter brings something to the team.
“Chris is unbelievably nice and very talented,” Reed said. “He’s the first pure sprinter we’ve had in a while. Rhet has stepped up his work ethic. It’s very important to him. He was chronically injured the last two years, but he’s been healthy this year and it’s paying off for him. Rikki is a unique individual in a good way. He’s extremely intelligent and introspective. He has a ton of natural ability. Nathan is really gifted. He tried to balance baseball and track last year but found he couldn’t do it. He’s been a pleasure to have this year. Jerry is a character. He’s probably put in more work out of all of them.”
All but McCaw play football, and they were key players last fall.
Baker anchors the 400 and 800 and Newby is the second leg that hands off to McCaw before the last hand off to Baker. Damschen leads off the 400 and Louie-McGee does the same in the 800.
Reed believes familiarity is a key to his team’s success in the relays.
“We have such good chemistry,” Baker said.
“We’ve all been friends a long time,” he said.
Newby likes his role of attacking the corners in the relays.
“They say I run them faster than anyone on the team,” Newby said.
McCaw appreciates being along for the ride.
“It’s nice to run with guys as fast as they are,” McCaw said.
Louie-McGee admits he has a selfish reason for doing track. He wants to make himself faster for football. He’ll likely be one of the fastest football players in the state next fall.
He said there’s a specific reason why he believes the quintet is successful.
“We’re all competitive,” Louie-McGee said.
And they believe they can take more time off their school records.
“We’ll be running on a new track at state, and in the past Lake City relays have had their best times at state,” McCaw said.
If they run anywhere close to the times they’ve had so far, the T-Wolves will like where they finish.