Lake Dawson, a Federal Way High School senior with an ocean of athletic talent, has taken himself out of the running for a state championship in the 110-meter hurdles.
Dawson, who was second in the event at last year's Class AAA state meet, quit the Federal Way track team last week. He said he wants to give his minor aches and pains a chance to heal before heading to Notre Dame next fall on a full football scholarship.
``My (left) leg is really sore from jumping a lot,'' said Dawson, an all-state receiver who also helped the Federal Way basketball team reach the state tournament.
``I just want to make sure I go into college 100 percent. I did football and basketball, and my body's just really tired. It's been pretty tough balance, academics and athletics. This gives me a chance to be a normal student.''
Dawson had competed in two meets this season, clocking a state-best 14.2 seconds in the 110 hurdles his first time out and a 14.4 the following week.
He also turned in a 39.8 in the 300 hurdles, an event in which he placed fifth at state last season.
Bob France, coach of the Federal Way boys' track team, said he did not find out about Dawson's decision until just before the Eagles' meet last Friday.
``It was a surprise to me, to say the least,'' France said.
Dawson, who carries a 3.3 grade-point average, said he suffers from what is commonly known as ``jumpers knee'' that bothers him
``I don't want it to turn into something that repeatedly occurs,'' he said. ``I'm just going to rest it and get ready for football next year.''
Dawson said it wasn't an easy decision to quit track.
``My heart really is in track this year,'' he said. ``Last year, I was blessed to have a really good season. I have an inner desire to do things to the best of my ability. It wasn't like I did track because friends told me I should. Something inside of me said, `I like to run the hurdles.' But I had to check my priorities.''
Friends talked Dawson into playing basketball again last season, although he said he entered his senior year planning to stick to football and track.
``I had my mind on one thing, and that was to achieve a scholarship,'' Dawson said. ``But my friends were doing it (basketball) and the coach said he could use my help.''
Dawson wound up averaging about a dozen points a game, second on the team to all-state junior Donny Marshall.
Dawson said he coveted the state record of 13.91 seconds in the 110 hurdles, set last year by champion Ross Flowers of Garfield.
``I figured this year I'd break that state record,'' Dawson said.
He admitted he probably won't be able to stand to attend the state meet and watch someone else win the championship that very well could have been his.
``I knew I could do really well (at state) if I ran,'' he said. ``If someone runs a 14.5 and wins, I'll be upset.''
Dawson said he'll stay in shape for football by running on his own.
``My doctor told me to take three or four weeks off, just relax and be normal,'' he said.
Dawson said he has been invited to be a counselor at the All-Northwest Football Camp at Whitworth College this summer and get some one-on-one coaching from Fred Biletnikoff, former all-pro receiver with the Los Angeles Raiders.
Then it will be on to Notre Dame, where he said he thinks he has a chance to play his first year, ``depending on my performance.''
He hopes to continue playing football professionally.
``That's been my dream,'' Dawson said.