Kicking through the inherent pain of a 400-meter sprint never thrilled Spencer Barrera, but the reluctant Mt. Spokane senior trusted his coaches.
Barrera had already established himself as one of the area’s best leapers and figured the long and triple jump would one day help pay for a portion of his college tuition.
He can elevate on the hardwood, too. The 6-foot guard had a couple of dunks in this year’s State 3A basketball tournament.
When asked last season at a Greater Spokane League meet to try the 400-meter run, Barrera considered the request experimental, not permanent.
He breezed to victory,with a winning time of 50.34 seconds.
A month later, Barrera placed second at the District 8A and State 3A meets behind current Washington State and former Shadle Park sprinter Tony Pizzillo , recording a career-best time of 48.58.
He also took third in the long jump (22 feet, 1 inch) and sixth in the triple jump (45-5) and expects those marks to improve exponentially this spring.
“The kid is such a natural,” Mt. Spokane head coach Pat Kostecka said. “And (in 2017), his first time ever doing the triple jump, he went over 44 feet.”
Barrera signed a letter of intent with Idaho last November.
“He’s at a young training age,” Idaho coach Tim Cawley said in a press release. “Especially in the 400 since (last year) was his first year running, it and has a good deal of room for improvement.”
Admittedly still raw in the 400, Barerra consulted with specialty coaches in the offseason to help sharpen his craft.
He laughs when thinking of the first time he ran the 400, even though he had previous experience on the Wildcats’ 1,600-meter relay team. He’ll anchor the relay this season.
“I didn’t even use blocks,” Barrera said. “I remember jogging the first 300 meters, then sprinting the last 100.
“And when I first did the triple jump, my form was so bad. Just kind of relied on jumping ability and adrenaline.”
With the graduation of GSL rival and state champion Pizzillo, Barrera said he’ll miss being pushed by the former Highlanders star.
He’s also ready to take Pizzillo’s place atop the podium.
“(Winning state) is the goal, but I have to take it one meet at a time,” Barrera said. “Right now, my goal is to win the Pasco Invitational, and go from there.
“And, one day, I want to be a Big Sky Conference champion.”