It was Paige Parker’s duty to blast out of the block and get the 4×400 relay rolling.
Whatever nerves were present before the start of the 3A state championship race were obliterated at the boom of the gun, which propelled the Redmond resident and Eastside Catholic runner into motion.
Using coach Skip King’s energetic pep talk before the race as a booster, “We held the lead the entire time, which was really exciting,” said Parker, whose squad notched the state title with a school-record time of 3:55.03. Holy Names Academy was second in line with a mark of 3:58.50 at the meet, which took place in late May at Mount Tahoma High in Tacoma.
They saved their best for last, laughed Parker, a recent graduate who will attend Washington State University this fall to study psychology. She’s been trying to fit in runs to stay in shape this summer and may walk on to the school’s track and field squad.
Parker said the goal for starting the relay is to bolt out of the blocks fast, hold that initial speed for as long as possible, and then “burn it all out” in the final stretch before the hand off. She was proud of her start and smooth exchange with freshman Makena Wick.
“She’s incredible, so once she got it, she just took off,” said Parker, noting that Eastside Catholic took fifth in the prelims. Parker and Wick were joined on the finals team by juniors Katie Baxter and Kate Jendrezak.
“I think we just had a group of fast girls who were really dedicated to running their best at each event, which made it really helpful. I think that was just the key, it was just everyone’s mindset,” Parker added.
Parker teamed up with Wick, Baxter and Elizabeth Brummer to finish 10th at state in the 4×200 relay in a school-record time of 1:46.29.
It was Parker’s first time at state and she enjoyed spending time with her teammates and felt it was rewarding to witness all their hard work pay off.
“It was a little bit more stressful. It was a much bigger event than running at the other events, but it was fun, though, it was more exciting than anything,” said Parker, who also ran the 300 hurdles and 400 during the season. She ran track for four years and laced up her shoes for the cross-country team for three years.
The Reporter asked Parker a series of questions for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life:
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
The pen-clickers. Has to be it (laughs).
What’s your favorite restaurant in Redmond?
The Village Square Cafe. (She works at the Woodinville Cafe, which is part of the chain.)
If you could go to dinner with one person, who would that be?
My sister. I have a twin sister (Mary Anna), she’s my best friend, so I’d go to dinner with her.
What special skill would you like to learn?
I always think it would be cool to know how to play an instrument. Right now, I can play the triangle, and that’s about it (laughs). I think it would be cool to be able to play the piano.
What would you tell an incoming freshman how to succeed in high school?
I would honestly say the first two years are most important. Work really hard those first two years, ‘cause then those last two years, you’ll be able to just kind of float through it and be able to spend that time with your friends before you all go off (to college).
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Can I pick a TV show? “The Office.”
What’s your favorite kind of music?
It’s honestly all kind of mixed. It’s all over the place.
What’s the best thing to do when you’ve got a group of friends together?