Every athlete can run. Only a select few can sprint.
And in no sport is that more evident, except maybe football, than it is in track and field — where only the most gifted runners from each school/program compete and are separated by milliseconds.
But for Skyler Walton, the soon to be Coug and four-time state qualifier for Wenatchee who runs like a spooked deer, sprinting has always come easy. She’s dominated the field ever since she laced up her first pair of track shoes as a nimble pre-teen at Clovis Point Middle School.
Walton won every race she entered during middle school and then crushed her Big 9 competition at Wenatchee. As a freshman, Walton finished either first or second – in both the 100m and 200m – in all but one race the entire spring and took second in the 100m (12.42) and third in the 200m (25.48) at the 2016 4A State Championship Meet.
She then followed that up with a stellar summer season with her club team, Spokane Speed Academy (SSA), which she joined after impressing head coach Cecil Jackson the year prior at a district meet in Spokane.
“I just ran in a tank top and spanks at the district meet and this girl on (Cecil’s) team beat me by a lead,” Walton said, thinking back. “This was the first girl that had ever beat me since I was crushing the competition coming out of middle school. But Cecil had said that he hadn’t seen any girl come close to beating her so he wanted me to join the team and come to Spokane.”
Under Jackson’s tutelage, Walton became a five-time All-American and five-time qualifier for the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships, where she placed sixth in the 100m (2016), 10th in the 200m (2016), eighth in the 4x400m relay (2019) and second in the 4x100m relay (2019).
Walton impressed everywhere she went, eventually drawing the attention of WSU, who started recruiting her during her junior season and got her to sign a letter of intent this past November.
“I’m so excited, it’s going to be a challenge and totally different than club, but I’m ready,” Walton said over coffee Thursday morning. “I’m more nervous about going in as a freshman. That sucks. Making mistakes, which will happen, but that’s what I’m nervous about.”
Plus, competing in the PAC-12, this should be the best competition she’s ever faced.
“It’s a whole new level, especially on the east coast and in the PAC-12, but I’m not expecting too much, I just want to better my times and see where the training takes me,” Walton said. “I’ve never had a full schedule that’s directed every day and not optional.”
With morning workouts, afternoon practice, and a full class load as she plans to major in kinesiology, her schedule should be packed.
Fortunately, she’ll have her brother, who is a junior, to guide her through the rigors of college, which coincidentally begin Monday with Welcome Week.
“My parents are a mess… (but) I’m really excited to meet new people and with so many people on campus it’ll force me to make new friends and stay in shape and eat right,” Walton said.