Trey Knight’s world is centered in Ridgefield

One of top track and field athletes in the country, Knight is proud to represent his hometown



RIDGEFIELD — He is refreshed and ready.

One final high school track and field season.

One final stretch with the Ridgefield Spudders.

From there, it will be Los Angeles, and then, perhaps, the world.

No matter where his talent takes him, though, he will always be from Ridgefield.

Ridgefield senior Trey Knight had a small signing ceremony when he decided to go with Southern California for track and field. He did not want anything huge. Photo by Mike Schultz
Ridgefield senior Trey Knight had a small signing ceremony when he decided to go with Southern California for track and field. He did not want anything huge. Photo by Mike Schultz

A main topic of his senior project, in fact, celebrates his hometown. In a presentation to community members and teachers, he noted “how much this community has given to me and how lucky I am to have grown up here through the school district,” Knight said. “It does mean a lot to me. I’m going to be super sad to leave home. I’ll miss this place.”

College is calling, though, and Trey Knight has signed a scholarship with the University of Southern California. 

Fight on! And throw that hammer.

Knight is one of the best track and field high school athletes the region has produced in decades. He has two state titles in the discus, including a championship-meet record performance last year, and two state titles in the shot put. As a freshman, he finished second in both events.

Oh, and those two events are not his speciality.

In college, he will specialize in the hammer throw. That event is not sanctioned by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. Instead, he competes in a non-sanctioned competition every year, usually the day after the WIAA’s state track and field championships. Yes, he wins that every year, too.

So at USC, and beyond, it’s hammer time.

“It’s harder to be good at multiple things. Disc and shot for me are not my best. If I went to college for that, I really wouldn’t do that well,” Knight said. “But the hammer, I’m pretty good at that. That’s what I want to do. It’s my favorite event. That’s definitely where my future is. If I want to go to the Olympics, that’s what it will be in.”

The fact that he received a full scholarship in track and field is an indication of his talent. Many, many great athletes in the sport get partial scholarships or no aid at the beginning of their college careers.

Knight is truly special.

Trey Knight of Ridgefield is the two-time state champion in discus and shot put. He hopes to be a three-time state champion in both events. Photo by Mike Schultz
Trey Knight of Ridgefield is the two-time state champion in discus and shot put. He hopes to be a three-time state champion in both events. Photo by Mike Schultz

Still, he took his time when deciding on a college. Then, when he did make up his mind, he did so under the radar.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I didn’t want to tell anybody and go back on it. I was super confused for a long time,” he acknowledged. 

Penn State and Louisiana State were also in his top three.

USC was the one, though. He noted throws coach Dan Lang is a “hammer guy.” Plus, Olympian Connor McCullough still trains at USC.

Then Knight had a small signing ceremony at school. Friends and family.

“The smaller the better,” he said. “I didn’t want anything huge.”

 A big name, but a small ego.

That what endears him to so many, according to Ridgefield track and field coach Gregg Ford. 

“With all that success, it hasn’t gone to his head,” the coach said. “All the kids, they like him.”

Ford coached Knight in football when Knight was in middle school. The coach recalled one game when Knight could have “crushed” a smaller opponent. Instead, Knight grabbed him, and just put him on the turf, but without trying to do harm. Then a play or two later, when a ball carrier the same size as Knight came toward him, Knight used his power to end the play with authority. 

“He was very aware of the whole situation,” Ford said.

Football, though, was not in the plans for high school. Even at that age, track and field coaches throughout the country knew he was a gem. So Knight focused on throwing. 

As a senior, though, he needed something more. He wanted one final opportunity to play football. His potential college coaches told him they would honor a scholarship even if he got hurt in football. 

“That really helped my mom,” Knight said. “It really helped me, too, but I would have done it either way.”

Knight needed a change of pace.

“We’ve been training three, four years straight, constantly all year long, just me and grandpa,” he said, referring to John Gambill, his coach, too. “It got to the point where we would butt heads. I was getting tired of it, you know. A lot of training for one sport. I really missed the team.”

Trey Knight will say goodbye to the discus and shot put when he goes to college. He intends to specialize in the hammer throw at USC, with the hope of one day of competing in the Olympics. Photo by Mike Schultz
Trey Knight will say goodbye to the discus and shot put when he goes to college. He intends to specialize in the hammer throw at USC, with the hope of one day of competing in the Olympics. Photo by Mike Schultz

So there was Knight, under the Friday night lights for the Ridgefield Spudders.

“The biggest thing for me in football was having some of my best friends and having that team aspect, a brotherhood,” he said. “To be able to do so well … going to the playoffs, really was a special moment. That’s what I wanted.”

It also worked wonders with his main sport.

“I was ready to come back to track. I missed it. Definitely a good little break,” Knight said. “I felt like it did what it needed to do. Right now, I’m ready to throw, ready to throw far, and hopefully have a big year with big throws.”

His goal is to hit 65 feet in the shot put and get into the 190s with the discus. Last year, he set the state meet record with a throw of 187 feet, 6 inches. 

Once those events are done, though, the focus will turn to college and the hammer throw.

He described the hammer as a “long, three-foot wire, with a shot put at the end of it.” Oh, and the harder one tries to throw it, he said, the worse it gets. He said it can be so frustrating to throw it wrong, then the “nicest feeling” when it goes right.

“If you try to throw it, it just goes to crap,” he said with a laugh. “A lot of minor things that you can do that make it mess up. But when you throw it right, and it’s right, it just feels like the most effortless thing you’ve done in the world, and it goes far.

“There is a certain timing and rhythm to it.”

If he gets all that in sync in college, perhaps he will be a member of the U.S. Olympic team one day. The goal, he said, is to make the 2024 Games in Paris. Then the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. 

“Tons of people told me if I make it there, they’re going to get the town on the bus,” Knight said. “That would be the dream.”

All of Ridgefield is already on that ride, that journey to support Trey Knight. 

He has been famous for his talent in his sport for years. But he has always remained true to his school and to his town.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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