April 20, 1998
by Shannon Gingell
The Woodinville track team ran at Eisenhower High School in Yakima on Saturday, April 4. Among the regular track and field events was an event that hasn't been familiar to Woodinville girls track participants. The 2000m steeplechase which is traditionally run by boys at the Yakima Invitational was opened for the first time to girls' competition. Since the steeple has not been sanctioned by the WIAA, it was not used as a scoring even for the female participants.
Nikki Gerken, a senior at WHS and an avid cross country runner and hurdler since junior high, was one of the first three girls in the league allowed to run the steeplechase along with the boys. "Since the WIAA hasn't let the girls run the steeple in the past years, I was really excited to be able to run in it before I graduate. I've done hurdles and distance running for a long time, and the steeplechase seemed like a great combination," said Gerken.
The girls weren't allowed a separate race, so the course officials set out spring boards to aid the three girls in jumping the barriers. Gerken didn't use any of them. "I was afraid I'd be in the way of the boys if I tried to go over with the boards, so I ignored them and went over without them." She not only completed the first steeple run by girls in Washington State, but took the win in a time of 9:02 on the boys' standard course.