Toledo high school senior Daniel Echtle (center) bounds over the final hurdle during a 110 meter high hurdle race at Toutle Lake on Thursday.
Track and Field is typically not listed as the favorite sport of many high school students--especially in small schools.
The opportunities are a little different though for Toledo Senior Daniel Echtle, who has been to state in three consecutive sport seasons with his potentially most promising activity rounding out his high school career this spring.
"My favorite sport is track," says Echtle. "In football you have to watch subtle hints that you have to be able to react to, and in wrestling you have to know the right moves at the right time, but in track all you need to do is run fast, work hard and release all your energy in one direction. Track is pure athleticism."
Echtle ran a 42.12 in the 300 Intermediate Hurdles on Saturday at Centralia's Lewis County Invitational, which is the fastest time in the state this year at the 2B level. He is also ranked third in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump at this early season juncture.
Impressive for a kid that goes to a school that does not have an all-weather surface track.
And it is not just in the hurdles. Echtle had new personal records in all four of his typical events before the track calendar even turned to April.
Echtle credits Terry Holmes, a physical education instructor at THS, and Kelly Holding for much of his success in his off-season work.
"Mr. Holmes made us do ladder and box drills which really helped my stride and agility and that made me be able to get past the linemen and get to the ball quicker," explains Echtle.
Holding, a Centralia High School graduate and Warner Pacific sprint and hurdle coach, has been working with Echtle on his hurdle technique.
"It was very helpful and probably the best form training I've had in a long time," said the senior.
Echtle was a huge part of the defensive success of the Toledo football team's run to state last fall and then finished 7th at the Mat Classic in Tacoma to end the wrestling season.
He certainly doesn't have to go very far to find inspiration in athletics.
"My dad is a major inspiration in my life and I thank god I was lucky enough to have him as a coach," he said about his dad, Jim Echtle, who happens to be a teacher and, yes, the head track coach at THS.
Like all kids of teachers, the line between school and home can be a delicate balancing act.
"We have some problems with boundaries," reports the younger Echtle. "Those boundaries weren't a problem as a coach but as a teacher in the high school. I can't get away with anything."
Discussion about college is a common topic around the Echtle house.
"There are four colleges I'm very interested in right now," explains the senior. "They are all great schools and all of their coaches have told me I qualify to walk on, but I have not committed anywhere yet."
A senior project may have lit a different type of fire in Daniel Echtle however.
"Last spring I did a ride-along with Deputy [Jeremy] Almond from the Lewis county sheriff's department, who is now Detective Almond," he explained. "Because of this, I am considering a career in law enforcement, but if not that, computer programming and/or business."
Whether his future is in law enforcement, business or computer programming, his speeding on the track and over hurdles will result as a high point in his high school career.