SNOHOMISH - Between 1976 and 1981 Naselle High School's brother combination of John and Bruce Anderson won six consecutive Class A-B Washington State Championships in the shot put. There were about 190 schools in the combined classifications during those years. Now Bruce's son, Marlyn, a junior at Snohomish High School is set to add a seventh shot put state title to the family resume, and maybe a discus gold medal as well.

Marlyn finished in third place over Memorial weekend at the 4A State meet in the shot put and was fourth in the discus. His marks were 54 feet, two and one quarter inches in the shot and 157 feet, two inches in the discus. Marlyn, named after his grandfather, Marlyn Stark, tossed the shot six feet better than the next best shot put returnee and his discus distance is 11 feet beyond the next-best underclassman in that event.

Bruce says, "I am extremely happy that my son loves to do what I used to do in school. I work with about 15 varsity throwers, both boys and girls, as a volunteer coach for Snohomish's track team. To coach Marlyn every day is something I really enjoy."

John Anderson won shot put championships in 1976, 1977 and 1978. Bruce threw the shot consistently in the 54-foot range as a freshman in 1978, and finished fifth as a freshman. He then reeled off championships in 1979, 1980, and 1981. Ironically John Anderson has the Naselle school record in the shot put at 61 feet, eight inches, but Bruce has the state A-B record (only performances in the state track meet count) with a toss of 59 feet, three inches.

Steve Tolva coached both Andersons at NHS and he says, "John was a stubborn competitor and a relentless grinder when working on his technique. He had a tremendous amount of talent to go with his work ethic. Both he and Bruce were quick as a cat and had unbelievably explosive strength. Bruce also had a lot of desire, but he was more of a gentle giant. He was very helpful with the other kids. He'd even show some of his rivals from other schools what they could do to improve."

Tolva relates with a grin, "John was one of the first kids that I as a young coach used positive image building theory on. I think John thought I was nuts. And with Bruce, we had to sneak him away to the University of Washington track meets during basketball season so Coach (Lyle) Patterson wouldn't find out about it. John and Bruce both were an absolute pleasure to coach."

Marlyn's track coach, Tuck Gionet, says, "Marlyn is very team oriented and he has a true appreciation for all the different event areas of track. He wants to try them all. He asked if I would let him run a leg on our 4x100 next year." Gionet adds, "He is also very humble about his abilities. He is very supportive of all the athletes and is one of the most liked members of the team."

Like his dad and uncle, Marlyn (6-feet-4-inches, 255 lbs.) is an excellent football player, already drawing the interest of several colleges. "I am not going to turn out for basketball my senior season because I want to concentrate on track," Marlyn explains. "I would play a lot, but I want to work in the weight room and on technique on my throws next winter."

After high school Bruce went to Eastern Washington University where he was Division II National Collegiate Athletic Association shot put champion in 1983. He transferred to Washington State University to be with track and field coach Rick Sloan. He competed for the Cougars until 1986 and was among the top 10 shot putters in the nation at the time. "I would have loved to try out for the 1988 Olympics, but the timing was bad. I needed a job so I turned in my track shoes," Bruce states. "I never finished in the top eight in the NCAA Division I and that is my only regret."

Bruce had few regrets in high school. He was all-league in football and basketball. As a tight end he would use his exceptionally quick feet and soft hands to catch a pass and then drag six or seven defenders for several yards, finally falling forward, and Anderson (6-5, 230) would then pick up another two yards. He also punted for the Comets and his booming towering kicks are still talked about as being legendary.

He averaged a double-double in scoring and rebounding for the Comets his final three varsity basketball seasons, as did his brother, John (6-5, 220). At the old Spokane Coliseum Bruce would stave off boredom by cupping a basketball next to his chest and with a three-quarter twist and tremendous torque from his right arm he would fling the basketball to the ceiling of the building, about 150 feet in the air.

The spring of his junior year after track was over he went to the Naselle baseball field with a few of his buddies to see if he could hit. After a few whiffs and some Major League pop ups, Bruce got all of a pitch that was up and out over the plate. He drove the ball over the 330 fence in right center, over the Little League pitcher's mound, and nearly to home plate on the far diamond, a distance of around 500 feet. Fortunately no one was using the other field at the time.

These days Bruce works for the Washington State Patrol as a motorcycle patrolman. "At WSU I earned a teaching degree in industrial arts, but a friend of mine was going to WSP School and talked me into signing up. I've been a patrolman for 19 years now and have done everything from security for the Governor's Mansion to being on the freeway on my motorcycle the last nine years. My folks wouldn't let us ride motorcycles as kids, but I enjoy it now."

Bruce works the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift so he can be home with wife Susan, a former Meadowdale cheerleader, and with Marlyn and Russell, a seventh grader. "Russell is going to be a good basketball player. He scored 14 points the other night in an AAU game," Bruce says. Of course, he's a volunteer coach for that program, too.

John is married with a family and lives in Glenoma. According to Bruce he is working in construction and his latest project is remodeling Paradise Lodge at Mount Rainier National Park.

Marlyn says, "I don't feel any pressure in trying to match what my dad and uncle did in track. I get a kick out of them telling me how there were 30 or 40 kids in their graduating class at Naselle and there are almost 800 in mine. I do have higher expectations, though, knowing what they accomplished. I want to impress them and experience what they went through as state champions. It is a big goal that I have had since the seventh grade."

He explains, "My dad and mom are very encouraging. As a coach I realize it is my dad's job to get us going. Everyone he works with respects him and can see that he loves working with us." Marlyn will compete in all-comer's meets throughout the summer, lift weights and run judiciously, and attend the Ironwood Throw Camp to hone his skills.

Coach Gionet, "Marlyn is just so nice and friendly that sometimes he forgets that there is still a competition to be had. I believe that when he further develops his 'game face' he will be the top weights man in the entire state." Marlyn is certainly a chip off the old Anderson block as a hard worker, talented competitor and with the gentle giant attitude that has made his dad a champion outside the world of sport, as well.

"After I graduate I would like to throw for Coach (Rick) Sloan at WSU," Marlyn says of his future plans. "But first I want to win a state championship or two, just to keep up the family name."

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