CHAMPION: Conner Locke Caps Prep Career With Second 100 Meter Title
By Matt Baide
Faster than a speeding bullet? No, but for Napavine’s Conner Locke, he does have the title of the fastest 2B sprinter in the state, and the gold medal that goes with it.
Locke won his second straight title in the 100 meter dash at the State 2B Track & Field Championships on Saturday, capping a year of titles for the Tiger standout.
“It feels really good. I’ve worked really hard both years to get to where I wanted to be,” Locke said.
The final race came down to Locke and Lyle/Wishram’s Brandon Montoya, a freshman that Locke hadn’t run against until the state finals.
“I’ve never seen this kid race before,” Locke said. “This is my first time going against him and I’ve been waiting this whole entire year to race this kid and I’m finally getting to race him.”
Locke noted that Montoya was a bit ahead of him for most of the race, but the Napavine senior was able to close the gap and he approached the finish line knowing he might have to dive across to win the race.
“The last 10 meters, I was like ‘I’ve got to dive. I’m going to have to dive here, aren’t I?’” Locke said. “It was towards the end, I saw him ducking his head and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to dive.’ I just kind of Superman-ed it across. I felt like if I would have tried to run through it, he would have beat me. I feel like diving pushed me ahead a little faster.”
Locke initially was told he placed second, but when the times came out, Locke defeated Montoya by .01 seconds for his second-straight 100 meter title.
Locke had always been fast, but never realized how fast he was until one afternoon at a middle school track meet at Mossyrock.
“I won basically every race I ran in Mossyrock when I did run track, and I ended it there,” Locke said. “I didn’t run track my freshman or sophomore year but that’s when I realized I was fast.”
It took the other sport in his prep career, football, for Locke to realize just how fast he was. During his junior year, Locke ran the 40-yard dash at the start of football season, and was encouraged by friends and his uncle, Sonny Butler, to join the track team.
The decision paid off for Locke, as he won the 100-meter dash over Okanogan’s Greyson Fields for his first state title.
“It was very unexpected for me,” he said. “I didn’t expect it to end like that for me, to be honest with you.”
Locke continued to win in the fall, playing for the Napavine football team that went undefeated en route to a state championship win over Liberty in December. He used a lot of the training that went into his junior track season to make him even faster for football, which he used to help him chase down offensive players as a defensive end on a bruising Tiger defense.
He ran indoor track in the winter with a coach, and that helped him throughout this season. Locke did feel some pressure this season due to his status as the defending state champ.
“I did feel like I had to win every single race leading up to state,” he said. “I felt like it was kind of my reputation to have to do that, and rep this side of Lewis County.”
It ended the way he wanted to, with a second-straight title. Locke also finished second in the 200 meter race, recording a PR in a time of 22.46, behind only Montoya.
Locke said he was happy with how his prep career ended, and has offers from schools to run track in college, but hasn’t made a decision on where or if he’ll run somewhere next spring.
When asked which title he enjoyed more, Locke chose track.
“It’s a lot more me pushing myself,” he said, “and it was more of an individual achievement for myself.”