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Senior stories: Central Valley distance runner Tyler Hunter left to wonder ‘What if’

UPDATED: Thu., May 21, 2020

The sports world, including high school, is full of “what if” right now. It’s all we have until the pandemic recedes and we’re able to take to the fields and gyms again.

For Central Valley distance runner Tyler Hunter, that “what if” might have been a school or league record in the 1,600- or 3,200-meter races.

“I believe he would have broke (both) records this spring,” CV boys cross country and girls track and field coach Geoff Arte said.

“I had some lofty goals for this season,” Hunter said. “I felt really good this cross country season. I had a lot of success. I was definitely hoping to hit some times on the track. Coach (Charles) Bowden and Coach Arte, they were getting us there.”

And then, everything was shut down.

“It was honestly a shock,” Hunter said. “A lot of shock and uncertainty.

“When we found out it wasn’t going to happen at all I just had to, I guess, appreciate all the good times. When it comes down to it, track isn’t about the times and wins – I’m more sad about the experiences missed and the time spent with friends.”

Hunter bided his time his first few years, running as the No. 4 or 5 in cross country and helping drive the pack in track.

“He’s a really quiet, humble and really genuine kid,” Arte said. “But those weren’t his teams and he knew his role on those teams.”

Hunter was peaking at the right time. Not only was he the only senior on cross country this season, but the only varsity returner.

“He’s a kid that doesn’t talk much, but when he does talk to the kids, they listen. That’s pretty rare these days,” Arte said. “This is a kid who can find the right words in the moment.”

Hunter blossomed in the fall. He finished first or second in each Greater Spokane League meet, second in the District 8 championships and third – with a personal-best time of 15 minutes, 11.7 seconds – at the State 4A meet in Pasco.

“He just was super patient with our young guys,” Arte said. “By the end of the year, the kids kind of all bought in.”

Hunter was primed for track season, but not just for competing – he was also excited to help the younger runners on the team find their way.

“I was definitely looking forward to being that guy that I looked up to when I was a freshman,” he said.

“I’m sad I didn’t get that chance.”

Hunter is putting his paperwork together in order to participate in a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and plans to attend BYU to study medicine once his mission is complete.

On the girls team, Arte said he was looking forward to watching Jenni Bissell’s season.

Part of the team that took ninth at state last spring in the 4x200 relay, Arte said as a senior she would have been a leader on that team and the 4x400.

Central Valley had nearly 300 athletes out for track this spring. Arte lamented that due to CV’s size, sometimes quality athletes who might thrive at another school have to “wait their turn” as older athletes progress through the program.

Bissell has worked hard, been patient and been a team player every step of the way, he said.

“The reality is, this really was her year and she kind of buys into that fact that, you know, we put our four best kids out there in the relays and try to get points that way,” he said. “She devoted herself the last couple of years to becoming great at this sport.

“I was really looking forward to what she could do this spring.”

For kicks: Clayton Crockett was entering his fourth year on varsity soccer. He’s transformed from a 5-foot-4, 105-pound frosh into the team captain and a college-bound athlete.

In his first season with the Bears, Crockett relied on his quickness and agility to help CV reach the state semifinals, where it lost in a shootout. He started strongly his sophomore season in the midfield, but during a preseason game in Pasco a hard slide tackle from an opponent resulted in a season-ending broken leg for Crockett.

He returned his junior season and played center midfield for CV. The team went undefeated in the Greater Spokane League but was bounced in the District 8 third-place game in overtime.

Crockett was selected as first-team all-league and as the GSL’s offensive MVP.

Earlier this year, he had the opportunity to play with the Region IV team for the Olympic Development Program in Costa Rica. He also plays with the Spokane Sounders club, comprised of players from schools throughout the GSL.

Crockett will continue his soccer career at Stanislaus State in Turlock, California, to play for recently named coach Morgan Cathey, the former head coach at Whitworth, and assistant coach Cameron Bushey, formerly at Gonzaga.

Central Valley senior roll call

Baseball: Kobe Carter, Matt Gabbert, Carson Judd, Ethan Moriniti, Rylan Redden, Dawson Rhodes, Cameron Sheley, Chris Zeutschel. Softball: Payton Campbell, Haley Lance, Madison McVey, Suheyla Tanak. Boys soccer: Cameron Bringhurst, Hunter Clark, Clayton Crockett, Joshua Hermes, Adam Jones, Korbyn Rider, Jansen Shypitka, Nikita Susin, Kaleb Vakaloloma. Boys tennis: Reagan Crosby, Andrew Harter, Kyle Kaminskas, Ethan Noakes, Landon Rehkow, Jackson Scott. Girls tennis: Katlyn Cooper, Savannah Dayton, Jenny Drinkwine, Taryn Harvey, Haley Heck, Skylar Robles, Mia Rogers, Drew Scott, Mariele Stockman, Autymn Wilde, Emma Wilkerson. Boys golf: Luke Sukut. Girls golf: None. Boys track: Jeff Bays, Ski Chalich, Carter Childress, Tate Cornell, Isaiah Cunningham, Robert Edwards, Ben Fillis, Brad Fillis, Jeremy Fuhriman, Preston Grote, Hayden Humphries, Tyler Hunter, Caleb Jerdon, Adam Lemley, Joseph Lopez, Aidan Meyer, Jonas Naumann, Ethan Oliver, Austin Porter, Dallin Prince, Carsen Raab, Evan Rohm, Conner Russell, Jaylen Smith, Brandon Snider, Devin Tanak, Benjamin Wicker. Girls track: Victoria Axtell, Jenni Bissell, Elizabeth Conrad, Ashleigh Creeger, Kaitlin Creeger, Teah Driver, Marie Ford, Adeline Haynie, Emily Heskett, Kayanna Johnson, Kylie Keller, Addison McLelland, Kimberley McManus, Alivia Mulligan, Becky Natimama, Olivia Sine, Kaliyah Singsavaddy.

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