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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Track notebook: West Valley’s Mack Baxter added speed to strength

Mack Baxter, warming up at West Valley, holds the school record in the 300-meter hurdles and has the best mark in the state. (Jesse Tinsley)
Mack Baxter, warming up at West Valley, holds the school record in the 300-meter hurdles and has the best mark in the state. (Jesse Tinsley)

Mack Baxter figured he’d maxed out on speed.

The West Valley senior hurdler’s times weren’t going to improve if he didn’t do one specific thing. So last winter he got in the weight room and increased his strength.

“Increase your strength, increase your speed,” WV coach Vic Wallace said.

Baxter took Wallace’s admonition to heart. Consequently, time has come down like melting butter.

He isn’t just ranked first in the 2A ranks. He’s ranked No. 1 overall in the state in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 38.39 seconds. He owns the school record.

Baxter beat Zion Stuffle of Lewiston, the defending big-school state champ from Idaho, last Saturday at the Rasmussen Invitational in Coeur d’Alene.

“He’ll go under 38 seconds,” Wallace said.

Baxter’s time in the 110 hurdles is also coming down. He’s run a personal-best 14.68, .38 off the school record.

He wants to win state championships in both events.

He also runs the anchor leg on the 1,600 relay, which has a chance to capture a state title.

Throw all of that together – along with a talented sprint corps and pole vaulters – and things are shaping up rather nicely in Millwood for a run at a team state title.

First things first, though. The Eagles want to lock up the Great Northern League championship today.

Baxter is considering two colleges to continue hurdling – Montana State University or Community Colleges of Spokane. The offer from CCS is attractive because he doesn’t have much of a cash outlay and he likes CCS’ hurdles coach, Linda Lanker, who is in her last season as head coach at Coeur d’Alene.

“He’s a dream kid to coach,” Lanker said. “A quality young man. Vic (Wallace) and Herm (Caviness, WV assistant) have done a great job with him. I’m so excited to get him for two years.”

Two years ago, Baxter decided he needed to do something to improve his mental toughness and endurance. So he turned out for cross country. He turned out again last fall.

Then over the winter, he did conditioning with Wallace.

Wallace kept the drill portion of the workout to 30 minutes, allowing Baxter to work going over one hurdle.

“I told him to be efficient over 10 hurdles he had to be efficient over one hurdle,” Wallace said.

After the short workout, Baxter went to the weight room. He put on an additional 8 to 10 pounds, Wallace said.

So it came as no surprise that Baxter’s times were hot out of the gate this season.

Wallace said people get strength and size confused. Strength allows for more speed, not size.

“What it comes down to is: What you put in you get out,” Wallace said.

At practice Monday, Baxter was working with Caviness on getting on and off hurdles as quickly as possible. The drill work required Baxter to get over a hurdle with his lead leg and pop his trail leg over quickly.

Baxter believes he can get into the low 37s in the 300s and low 14 in the 110s.

Even when he ran 38.39 and beat Stuffle last Saturday, Baxter had some technical difficulties.

“I had goofy form over one or two hurdles on the corner,” he said. “I can get the time lower. When I run a clean race, I’m going to get the 37 I want.”

On disabled list

Ferris boys coach James Fisher couldn’t figure out why he was always feeling so tired.

On the advice of his wife, Fisher went to see the doctor, who suggested he do a stress test.

But that didn’t reveal anything. So he was referred to a cardio specialist, and that’s when he discovered how fortunate he had been.

Fisher, 63, had five blocked arteries. He spent the Friday of his spring break having open heart surgery.

He’s home recovering – done teaching and coaching for the year. Mike Hadway is filling in as interim head coach.

Fisher and Hadway talk each week, putting together the lineup for each dual.

“I plan on coming back next year,” Fisher said. “I’m fortunate I didn’t have a heart attack or stroke. I’m totally blessed.”

Top stuff

A handful of athletes had impressive times/marks last week.

Victoria Goetz of Coeur d’Alene broke her school record in the 400 (56.30).

Kaitlin Krouse of Chewelah, the overall state leader in the discus, stretched her personal best to 141-4.

Austin Zeller of Davenport threw the javelin 184-1.

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