The splashing sound has become repetitive.
Every couple minutes, when there’s a break at the main shot put pit at the Grays Harbor Track and Field Championships, someone lets one fly in the adjacent pit.
This warm-up area at Aberdeen’s Miller Junior High School has been denied the maintenance and overall care its counterpart has enjoyed. It hasn’t been raked and a number of sizable mud puddles can found inside the throwing sector with the last row of puddles stretching some 35 feet away from the top of the circle.
With every warm-up, each thrower fails to clear these makeshift water hazards. Moisture and chunks of wet dirt spray everywhere. Moments later the athletes are forced to fish out their shot puts, several asking for an extra towel as the cleaning off process begins.
This scene continues until Seth Bridge begins to warm up. The North Beach High School senior is consistently launching the shot clear over the puddles. One after another.
The majority of the crowd that has gathered around the pit, a nice mix of fellow throwers and spectators, begin to turn their attention away whoever is actually competing and start to focus on Bridge and his impressive warm-up throws.
Bridge is looking to continue a pair of impressive legacies this season, one belonging to his family and the other to his second family – the Hyaks’ throwers.
The North Beach throwers have dominated boys’ throwing events in the 2B classification the last several years. In the discus, Bridge is looking to keep the state championship squarely within his family this year. His older brother, Caleb, captured state crowns in the event in 2014 with a throw of 166-feet 10 inches and in 2015 with a mark of 185-7.
Seth made it three consecutive state titles for the Bridges in the discus last year, winning the championship with a throw of 173-5.
Over on the shot put side of things, the North Beach Hyaks have been equally as dominant, winning the last two state titles. Johnny Law won the title in 2015 and Tim Poplin took home the crown last year, while Seth finished fourth in the event.
Seth is off to a strong start as he attempts to keep both state titles at North Beach. He has won all five events he has competed in this year in both the shot put and discus, including opening the season with a PR in the discus of 173-5 during a Pacific League meet at Chief Leschi.
“For me now it’s just really technical stuff. It’s really tiny things that I need to fix,” Seth said. “I’ll throw and then I realize I missed a part. So you fix that part and another part breaks. It’s like fixing a car engine. Just a lot of parts to focus on, lots of small parts to take into consideration.”
He is currently the state leader in the 2B ranks in the discus and comes in third in the shot put with a season-best throw of 50-9, trailing only Wilbur-Creston’s Garrett Peoples (51-10.75) and Asotin’s Cody Whitmore (51-9) on the list.
However, specific distances aren’t top of mind for the athlete. “Numbers are arbitrary,” Seth said. “If I PR and have horrible technique, it doesn’t mean much. I would rather have a good day and throw just under my PR with perfect technique.”
Seth took first in both the shot and discus at the Grays Harbor Championship with younger brother, Ben, a sophomore, finishing second discus, while older brother, Caleb, watched from the crowd.
It was Caleb, the school and 2B state record in the discus (185-7) and school record holder in shot put (55-11), who helped spearhead the Hyaks’ throwers towards their recent success, and that occurred in more ways than one.
For his senior project in 2015, Caleb, now a member of the Concordia University-Portland’s track team, redesign and created three new shot put pits at North Beach.
“They were falling apart and we had so many throwers for just one ring we needed an improvement,” Caleb said.
The Hyaks were developing top-flight throwers and now had first-class accommodations to go with that, thanks to Caleb’s efforts. Soon after the new pits were up, Caleb was coming up with school-record throws – distances he wouldn’t be surprised if Seth betters this year.
“I’m just really proud of him,” Caleb said. “He works really hard and deserves everything he gets.”
So what does Seth have in store for his senior project? “Thankfully, we stopped senior projects last year,” said a smiling Seth, who also captured a state championships in wrestling this year and will join Caleb at Concordia University next year on a track scholarship. “So, I’m free.”
Free to pick up more state championships and continue the North Beach and family traditions.