Cheney’s Ryan Rieckmann wasn’t always the fastest individual on the Blackhawks’ track team.
He admittedly was nowhere near the level of some of his teammates when he began to take on track his freshman year.
Athletes like Charles Johnson and Camden Verstrate had set the standard of great sprinters in Cheney’s program, winning a combined four state titles in the 100- and 200-meter races.
“I just didn’t have the motivation to want to do sprints early on,” Rieckmann said. “My whole high school career, we’ve had someone run in the 10s for the 100, so I felt it wasn’t pushed on me to do sprints.”
But he did find his calling in a field event.
“In my freshman year, I came in only throwing javelin because I felt that was my best event,” Rieckmann said.
He qualified for the 2018 State 2A meet that season and placed 12th – throwing a season-best mark of 156 feet, 5 inches.
The following year, he threw a personal-best mark of 174-2, securing an eighth-place finish at the 2019 state meet.
Rieckmann was going to be one of the top returning throwers in 2021, but he wanted to contribute more to the team in his shortened senior season.
“I felt for the team that they needed me to do something else other than throw,” he said. “My plan this year was just to throw, but I decided to take up sprints a little bit more serious this year.”
In his first year sprinting for Cheney, Rieckmann posted the No. 1 times in the Greater Spokane League, running 10.94 seconds for the 100 and 22.27 for the 200.
“We knew he was fast,” Cheney boys head coach Derek Slaughter said. “But once we threw him into the 100 and 200, we saw his potential.”
Last week at the GSL 4A/3A championships, Rieckmann won four events and helped lead Cheney to a fourth-place team finish, scoring 32 of its 74 points.
In the 100 and 200, he posted times of 11.03 and 22.40, and threw 172-1 in the javelin.
“I was just going after the GSL championship in javelin at the beginning of the year,” Rieckmann said. “But to add on three more titles in sprints was really crazy and it’s an accomplishment I am proud of. Never thought I could do that.”
Of the four events in which he competed, none was more impressive than his come-from-behind finish in the 4x100 relay.
With less than 100 meters to go, Central Valley’s Tegan Hoard took the final handoff in the lead. Rieckmann caught him with less than 20 meters to the finish to secure the win for Cheney.
“That meet was so much fun,” Rieckmann said. “Our relay team had been struggling with competition all year, so to finally have someone to chase down was so fun.”
Rieckmann orally committed to play football for Montana Western, but after this season he has reconsidered his options to potentially run at the collegiate level.
“He had lost so much hope that he thought to be a good athlete he would only have to throw javelin,” Slaughter said. “But now he was able to showcase all his talents in a short season because it’s just natural for him.”
Multisport star excels
The accolades continue for Shadle Park’s Kyleigh Archer after wrapping up her first season of high school track.
But the sport is no stranger to Archer and her family.
“I joined track in middle school just for the fun of it and to try it out,” Archer said. “My dad was a track athlete in high school and college. After my first year, I liked it and wanted to continue with it.”
Already named the GSL 2A offensive MVP in soccer earlier this year, Archer took home four individual titles at last week’s GSL 2A championship meet and led the Highlanders to their first GSL team title since the 2007 season.
“Kyleigh is a once-in-a-decade type of athlete,” Shadle Park head girls track coach Nathan Clayton said.
“Her leadership and athletic abilities create a competitive atmosphere and a championship culture within our program. I’ve been trying to promote this the last few years, and when you get an athlete who buys into that, everyone starts following.”
Archer had been the No. 1 sprinter all season in GSL 2A. She felt the pressure heading into the championships.
“Going into the meet, I can say there were a lot more nerves,” Archer said. “Once I got into racing the 100, the person holding my blocks said my foot was shaking in the blocks.”
But her nerves calmed down after the gun went off.
“After that 100, I felt like that’s where I belonged,” she said.
“I knew I was going to do well, and I had that confidence in myself. I won the first title, so why not take all of them?”
Archer set personal bests in the 100 and 200, running 12.81 and 26.83, and in the long jump, at 17-½. She also ran 1:02.09 in the open 400, less than 1 second off her personal best earlier this season.
“I’m really happy with the turnout over the course of the season,” Archer said. “I definitely got better, which is what you are looking for, especially in a short season.”
It’s not common to see a sprinter take down all three sprint events in a championship meet, but Archer’s ability on the soccer field carries over for her success in track.
“That transition from sport to sport has become easy now,” Archer said.
“I am a forward in soccer, so I actually get to use that speed a ton in track since I would take people on one-versus-one in a game. That’s how I have been able to meet a lot of my goals this track season.”
Her four wins scored one-quarter of her team’s 157 points en route to the team title.
“I wanted to do what I can to help the team win,” Archer said. “I switched from the 4x100 relay to the 400 after two meets just so we could get more points, and I was ready for it.”
As if all that wasn’t enough, Archer led the Highlanders with 18 points in a basketball season-opening loss to Pullman on Tuesday.
Martin makes mark
North Central’s Jalen Martin took home individual titles in the long and triple jumps, setting personal-best marks of 21-4 and 43-4½ , the highest individual contributor to the NC’s GSL 2A boys team title. The senior was also the runner-up in the shot put, throwing a personal-best 44-2¼ .
NC’s 4x400 relay of Caleb Stewart, Zach Kness, Derek Smith and Jonah Aden also took first, contributing to the team’s title.
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