No hurdle too great
Run until it hurts. Then keep running.
Cascade Christian's Tim Stieglitz lives by that expression.
"It's one of the things I learned from cross country," Stieglitz says. "Sometimes my coach worries about me hurting myself too much."
Never one to shy away from pain, the unassuming senior hurdler has become a consistent and inspirational force for the Challengers despite multiple nagging injuries spanning his entire prep career.
He enters the Class 3A state meet on Friday with the No. 2 overall times in Class 3A in the 110-meter hurdles (15.84 seconds) and 300-meter hurdles (40.93 seconds). He's also a member of Cascade Christian's 4x400 relay team and an alternate on the 4x100 relay team — both of which will take aim at state titles as well.
It's quite a feat when considering the adversity Stieglitz has faced.
When recounting his various injuries, Stieglitz quite succinctly puts it: "It's just basically all my joints, ankle, knees and shin splints. I just grit my teeth and keep going."
"He would be the last one to let me know about the injuries," says first-year Cascade Christian coach Chris George. "He has yet to come off the hurdle race and say, 'Coach, that's it. I'm done.' You'll think he's done, but when it comes time to step up to the line, he steps out there and runs as good of a time as he's ever run. It's amazing. He's just a fun guy, and he's been a joy to work around and watch him do what he does."
Stieglitz will end his career at Cascade Christian as the school's record-holder in the 300 hurdles, breaking John Sumerall's 1997 mark of 52.54, and he's eyeing Michael Clark's 110 hurdles record of 15.45, set in 2005.
His greater legacy?
That might be felt each day at practice.
"There's not a person who didn't know he was hurting," George says. "But he never took anything off. He's never griping or complaining. That is stuff you can't put a value on because the rest of the team steps up to that and understands a little better what it means to be out there working."
Never was that more clear than in his sophomore season.
Coming over the first hurdle of one race, Stieglitz's hip popped completely out of the socket.
He finished the race.
"I've seen him run some intense, painful races," says Connor Kirkpatrick, a teammate and classmate of Stieglitz since second grade. The two will room and run track together at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho next year. "And he won't complain at all. He's just really consistent and been the prime example of what a hard-working, humble individual should look like. He finds a way to get it done, no matter what it takes."
Stieglitz has shown tremendous growth since arriving at Cascade Christian. He's dropped nearly 11 seconds off his 300 hurdles time and nearly four seconds in the 110.
George considers Stieglitz a favorite in the 300 hurdles and a strong candidate in the 110 hurdles at the state meet.
"I fully believe he'll come home with both of those," George says.
That would not surprise his teammates.
"He (Stieglitz) doesn't get a lot of the credit I think he deserves," Kirkpatrick says. " It's nice to see him get recognized and get props this year. He's mostly content with working hard and not advocating himself or making himself out to be something he's not. He's gone unnoticed the past three years."
Despite his quiet nature, Stieglitz is a recognizable figure on the track on race days — with his lanky frame, shortly cropped hair and those patented sunglasses.
What's the story behind those after all?
"I started wearing them last year at a meet against St. Mary's at the request of a jump coach," says Stieglitz, who was mistaken multiple times for U.S. sprinter Jeremy Wariner, also recognized for his sunglasses, at the Olympic Trials in Eugene. "He said, 'Tim, I want you to wear these sunglasses for intimidation.' It was a small dual meet and I got up to the line, and I was the only one running. I asked him, 'Who am I intimidating?' He said, 'The hurdles.' I've stuck with them since then."
Aside from physical appearance, Stieglitz prefers to live in the shadows.
Working and running. Until it hurts. Then running some more.
Reach reporter Luke Andrews at 776-4469, or e-mail email@example.com