The final step of his illustrious Woodland High School career, one that became an iconic moment at the Class 2A state track and field meet, defines Tyler Flanagan.
A scabbed chin, ripped jersey, torn bib number, and track burns on the hip are proud trophies for the athlete who won the 2A boys 300-meter hurdles state championship by diving Superman-style across the finish line. That all came in Flanagan’s final high school race on the last day as a high school athlete.
What does that say about Flanagan, The Columbian’s All-Region boys athlete of the year? To start, try grit, heart, determination and perseverance.
“I had to dive to make sure I beat him,” Flanagan said, talking about edging Sir Carter of Black Hills by four one-hundreths of a second. “I didn’t give up, and gave it all I had.”
Last month’s track and field state meet was a perfect ending high school career that saw Flanagan shine in football, basketball and track and field. He earned 12 varsity letters, all-league honors since freshman year, and leaves Woodland with numerous school records in all three sports. He heads off to Central Washington this fall recruited in football as a running back.
Sports hold a special place in Flanagan’s heart, and that began at an early age. Flanagan is the youngest of three children, and all were three-sport high school athletes at Woodland.
Staying active year-round is an easy choice.
“It’s almost an expectation,” Flanagan said. “I never thought about giving up a sport and not playing all three.
“I love it,” he continued. “You get better every day and you compete.”
And senior year of high school, Flanagan carried more loads in new roles. In football, he transitioned from receiver and running back to quarterback, and threw for more than 2,012 yards and rushed for 1,971 to lead Woodland to the state preliminary round. On Senior Night, he broke the school’s long-standing single-season rushing record held by his father, Glen, since 1988.
In basketball, Flanagan’s scoring numbers increased as a point guard, especially the second half of the league season. He’s also the school’s single-season and career assists leader.
Flanagan is Woodland’s school record holder in the 300 hurdles, and at one point, held the school’s javelin record. But who can forget his flying finish to win a state track and field title that drew loud roars from the Mount Tahoma Stadium. Flanagan and Carter of Black Hills, two district rivals, were neck-and-neck the final 100 meters of the race.
A number of “what-ifs” crept into Flanagan’s head days afterward. What if he chose not to dive, or did so a split-second early or late? What if he didn’t clip the first hurdle and ultimately, made up ground? What if he chose not to give up the 400 meters junior year in favor of the 300 hurdles?
All things lined up perfectly for Flanagan in a season, and ultimately, a career full of grit, heart, determination and perseverance.
“And it worked out perfect,” he said.