The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association canceled spring state championships last month because of Gov. Jay Inslee closing schools for the remainder of the academic year because of the coronavirus outbreak. The decision left seniors in baseball, softball, boys soccer, golf, tennis and track and field without a finale to their high-school careers. We’ll spotlight a few of those student-athletes in a weekly Sunday series.
Name: Gabriel Shouman
School: Tahoma High School
Sport: Track and field
Accomplishments: Shouman is the defending Class 4A state javelin champion. He also won the USATF Pacific Northwest Association Junior Olympic Championships in the same event and placed second at regionals to qualify for the national competition. Shouman placed seventh at the 2019 USATF National Junior Olympic Championships.
Best high-school memory: Being awarded the medal as state champion. The winning throw of 199 feet, 2 inches was Shouman’s last throw of the day and a personal best.
Quarantine tip: Take time to each day to enjoy those around you and go on extra-long walks. Shouman doing so with his 120-pound, mixed-breed dog named Bear.
The skinny: When it’s said to compete as if it’s your last chance, Shouman did and that’s why being stripped of his senior track and field season because of the pandemic isn’t as disappointing as he expected.
That last throw won him the state title and boosted his confidence for club track that summer where he secured a partial scholarship to Washington State.
“It meant a lot for me, just that one throw,” Shouman said. “I hyped myself up for it, thinking about where I am and how I got to that position in the first place and it was special.”
Shouman suffered a hernia injury lifting weights in November 2018 that required surgery. He returned to track in March 2019 but lost strength and confidence during the rehab process.
Shouman’s first throw of the season was 155 feet at a meet against Auburn. Heading into the state meet, Shouman’s best mark of the season was 180-7.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without that last throw, all that perseverance and all that persistence,” Shouman said. “Everything happens for a reason and looking back, my last high-school throw won me a state championship. I’m good with that. And I have another four years in college to throw.”
The hardest part of Shouman’s senior year is actually not being able to hug his mother for about two months. His parents are divorced and were strict about social distancing as their kids visited each home.
Shouman coaxed his mother into one hug last week and plans another for Mother’s Day.
“We made sure to breathe in different directions when we did,” he said. “It was awesome.”