Sumner High School senior Brandon “Juice” Tuilaepa’s Twitter handle said it all on the second day of the Class 2A state track meet at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
Tuilaepa tweeted out to his followers, “My high school sports career has come to an end. What a journey.”
Tuilaepa, who was a three-year starter on the Sumner Spartans football team, ran track for the past three seasons, but never had the opportunity to compete in the state meet.
He achieved his goal this past weekend as the Sumner Spartans’ 400-meter relay team consisting of Tuilaepa, DeJon Lynch, Kolby Nikolaisen and Andrew Andrada ran in the Class 2A prelims and finished with a time of 44.49. Even though the Spartans’ quartet failed to advance to the state finals, Tuilaepa and his three buddies’ spirits weren’t dampened after the final race of the 2014 season.
“This is my first time ever at the state track meet,” he said. “Making it to this point my senior year really meant a lot. I got to run at the state track meet with all of my best friends, which is really cool. Our big goal as a group when practice started right off the bat was to make it to the state track meet, and we did that.”
Tuilaepa ran the second leg of the 400-meter relay throughout the 2014 season. I watched Tuilaepa during the football season in the fall, and his straight-line speed was evident nearly every time he touched the football. He rushed for 1,400 yards for a Spartans team that advanced to the Class 2A quarterfinals.
“Running the straightaway is really intense because you can always hear people and you don’t have to worry about that curve,” Tuilaepa said. “It’s all about speed work.”
Tuilaepa, who is planning on walking on to the Central Washington University football team this fall, said track and football blend together quite well.
“Track is more of a social experience than football,” he said. “It is really cool seeing people who played football that are also track athletes. They still love track as much as they love football, just like I do.”