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Liberty’s Washington takes leap into hurdle stardom

Liberty’s David Washington was looking for any way to get out of the 400-meter dash a season ago.

Although he showed promise in the event, it was just too long and tiring to do on a daily basis.

“Because it’s a 400-meter dash, they expect you to sprint the whole thing,” Washington said. “And if you’ve ever run a 400 before, that’s not easy to do.”

So midway through last season, Washington took a stab at the 300 hurdles and ended up placing third at the Sunrise Region meet.

His progression hasn’t slowed since.

After sweeping both hurdles in this year’s Sunrise meet Saturday, the quick-learning Washington will be seeking a repeat performance at the Division I state meet, which begins at 3 p.m. Friday in Carson City. The meet concludes Saturday.

“I just wanted to get away from the 400,” Washington said. “I was good at the event, but I personally didn’t enjoy doing it. So I figured, ‘If I don’t like it, why am I actually working to pursue it?’”

The junior has made a seamless transition to the hurdles with his natural ability and has learned to love them in the process.

“He came to the program and didn’t know anything about hurdles,” Liberty coach Geoff Walker said. “He was just a good, athletic kid, and we tried him everywhere. For what he’s done this year, going from never running the race to winning the region, it’s a testament to how hard of a worker he is.

“He’s just an overall great athlete and a good kid. He’ll work hard for us in practice. And he just picks up anything you give him. He’s really coachable in that way. The biggest thing is, he just loves track and field.

Among Division I athletes in the state, Washington has the second-best time in the 110 high hurdles this season, according to Athletic.net. He set a personal record of 14.82 seconds April 8 at the Tiger Invitational in Pasadena, California.

Reed sophomore Jorge Moreno is slightly ahead at 14.80.

“Not very much (of a difference),” Washington said. “That’s just getting out of the box a little bit stronger.”

In the 300 low hurdles, Washington ranks fourth among Division I athletes with a time of 39.62. Legacy’s Jamal Britt is first after hitting 38.07 in the Sunset Region meet.

“Of course, I do expect to win (both events),” Washington said. “I don’t know. Anything can happen, especially with the hurdles. People can fall. The hurdles are scary.”

At the windy region meet, Washington won the 110 hurdles (14.96) and the 300 hurdles (40.21) for the Patriots. He also ran the anchor leg on the second-place 1,600 relay team that will compete at state.

“I finished first (in both hurdles) and did just enough to qualify for state, but I’m thinking nationally,” Washington said. “Like, where can I be ranked in the nation?”

That attitude sets Washington apart from his competitors. It’s also why Walker loves having him on his team.

“In track, you’re looking for that diamond in the rough,” Walker said. “And that’s kind of what we have with David. We’re lucky to have him.”

Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at aferguson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson

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