Coach Luck Looks Back on Rain-Soaked Season

  • Written by Derek Johnson

Spring never quite sprung this year. Longtime locals are hard-pressed to recall one with so many endless days of rain.   

But Woodinville’s Nicole Luckenbach doesn’t see it that way. The coach that the kids refer to as “Coach Luck” called the weather a “blessing in disguise.” She said the cold rainy days forced the kids to focus more on technique. She said it pushed them into a deeper understanding of how their bodies need to move efficiently.   

“So when the weather becomes nice they don’t have to worry as much about that technique stuff,” Luckenbach said. “They move faster and have the mechanics down and everything comes together beautifully. We saw that during the championship rounds because the weather started to turn and the kids popped off these huge marks and huge times. They have these mechanics dialed in and they stepped it up and made things happen.”

DSC 8991Pole vaulter Kyle Mumma (Photo by Derek Johnson) Senior high jumper Tate Kuykendall couldn’t agree more.

“It’s hard to stay motivated when practicing in the rain,” Kuykendall said. “Because you’re wet and cold and your muscles aren’t warmed up. When going to practice each day in horrible conditions you get used to that. But then when some of our events were on nice sunny days, you’re not used to that, and your whole body gets quickly warmed up. It gives you a boost and you do things that are unexpected. You set all kinds of new [personal records].”

Coach Luckenbach’s favorite moment of the season came courtesy of a rainy day. It involved two of her javelin throwers. The Kingco tourney was underway when the sky unleashed a torrent of cold rain.

“Everybody was running under the tent to hide,” Luckenbach said. “When they started the competition, the kids had to go out there in a downpour during the stretching. During warm-ups everyone was slipping and falling and nobody from any school could keep their balance and stay on their feet.

“I talked with my boys about what they needed to do to adjust their technique,” she said. “Two of my boys, Jaydon Tryon and Jamie Petry got [personal records] on their first throws and advanced to move on to Districts. It was very exciting to me that both were able to step back from feeling frustrated and were able to adjust and see the positives and then succeed. As a coach, that was a very memorable moment. I will not forget it.”

Coach Luck’s Comments on some of her athletes:

Ellie Mann, pole vault
It was her first year in a very technical event. She went all the way to state and finished 8th. She went 10’9” [high jump] for a first year athlete, which was phenomenal. We get her back for two years. Outside of her athleticism she is a great leader. She brings the team together.

Ella Ekstrom, high jump
She was a 10th grader and was new [to the team] this year. She went 4’10” which for a first year high jumper was great. A huge height to clear. She is definitely someone we will see great things from.
Tyler Rodshagen   
This was his junior year. His time in the 400 was incredible. He made it to Districts and helped out on his relay team. Almost every week he set a new [personal record]. Six weeks in a row he had a PR, which is really exceptional. He’s someone else from whom we will be able to see future leadership.

Ryann Davis and Cate Quilantang, discus and javelin
They made the connections and improved their technique and saw growth throughout the season. Both are very  talented and have a lot of potential.

Luke Houser and Dustin Lind, distance runners
DSC 8950Luke Houser (left) and Dustin Lind lead the way in a race earlier this spring. (Photo by Derek Johnson) Luke did well this year. Unfortunately, he barely missed the State spot, as he got third in both events [at Districts]. He is strong and fast. He definitely has some maturing physically that he needs to do. Next year I believe we will see him going all the way to State.

Dustin is right behind him. It’s really nice to see both of them build off each other and have that competitive friendship and camaraderie. They have been running together since they were little. They are used to racing each other and pushing each other and building each other up. As a duo they work really well and lift each other up.

Makenna “Mackie B” Barton and Ryan Clutter, pole vault
They both did exceptional at State. They were both close to their personal records. Mackie was really hungry for that first place in the pole vault, so I’m sure that was disappointing for her. But her resilience and her attitude in practice helped her reach that next level. We are all very proud of her and how she finished her senior season. Her leadership is going to be hard to replace. She’s an incredible motivator and with very uplifting things to say. She can read people well and she’s very quick to go over and give people guidance.

Ryan also set the tone and created an environment where kids could flourish and do well.

As a senior, he’s been a leader for us.

Alex Howerton, sprinter and hurdler
She is a junior and will be returning to us. She was one of our State competitors in the 100 and 300 hurdles. At our [season end] banquet she was recognized as an athlete with some of the most points scored. She contributes to a lot of the track events. Her growth was exceptional. I’m sure we will see her on the [State] podium next year. Her work ethic is exceptional. I also noticed during the season that she was taking control of the psychological side of the sport.

Jaydon Tryon, javelin 
He is another athlete who has mastered the mental side of it. He is someone who technically speaking executed very well. He got first and third at KingCo [4A].  I was also really proud of him  for gaining composure for the mental side of [the sport].

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