Wenatchee sprinter Skyler Walton, 15, showed she can run with the fastest girls Washington state has to offer when she took second place in the 100-meter dash and third place in the 200m dash as a freshman at the 4A Track and Field State Championships in Tahoma in late May.
At the U.S.A. Track and Field Regional Championships in Seattle June 7-10, Walton proved her state performances were no joke.
Walton took home first-place finishes in the 100m and 200m events and was a part of a 4x100 relay team that also took home first place. Each win qualified Walton for the U.S.A. Track and Field National Championships in Sacramento, Calif. July 25-31.
Walton’s time of 24.62 seconds in the 200m broke the Inland Northwest and junior Olympic record of 24.90 seconds set by former Washington State University sprinter Bree Skinner in 1997. Walton competed in Region 13 — which consisted of runners from the Alaska, Inland Northwest, Oregon and Pacific Northwest regions — to qualify for the National Championships later this month.
Recently, Walton decided to spend her summer training with Spokane Speed Academy instead of splitting her time between running and basketball.
“The decision to give up basketball was hard for me,” Walton said. “For me, track is an individual thing and it’s my thing. I love running. I had a decision to make. … ‘What do I want to do?’ For me, I knew I wanted to run track when I didn’t want to travel anymore to play basketball. I had to travel for track and I had to travel to ball. For basketball, I didn’t want to travel anymore. For track, I always want to travel.”
With Spokane Speed Academy, Walton gets the opportunity to train, run and learn about nutrition with other like-minded high school athletes. Walton splits her time between Wenatchee and Spokane and truly eats, lives and breathes running.
Walton emphasizes the mental aspect of running when talking about the most important parts of being a good runner. Walton has born talent — both of her parents were collegiate track athletes — but that doesn’t mean Walton can coast by. She physically trains six days a week. Mentally, she never gets a day off.
“I have my team, but when you are at the starting line you are on your own. Before I run, I have to be mentally prepared. Deep breaths, deep thoughts. Visualization. Visualization of winning. Visualization of how good you are going to do. Those races take a lot out of me, this weekend I had to push through that. It’s very tiring. For me, mentally, I’ve learned to push through.”
Walton is no stranger to the bright lights. On top of her appearance in the 2016 state championships, Walton competed at the U.S.A. Track and Field National Championships a year ago as a 14-year-old, not yet in high school.
None of those successes or accolades matter to Walton. She is concentrated solely on Sacramento at the end of July and what it will take to succeed in her own eyes.
“It’s going to be hard training for me in the next few weeks, there is a lot of mental stuff I need to prepare for,” Walton said. “When I go down there, I will focus on doing the best I can and I really want to get a personal best. I always want to do better. I want to do better than I did last year. That would be big for me.”