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Monday, December 14, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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No Hurdle Was Too High For Track Star Darrold Skartvedt

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Darrold Skartvedt could have bowed out of competition after setting high-school and college track records.

He was a standout at Ballard High School, and at the University of Washington in 1953 he won the Pacific Coast Conference long-jump title for the Huskies.

It may have looked like he bowed out while he worked for 30 years as a Boeing senior engineer, coached his son in sports and fished near his Hood Canal cabin.

But he was far from done with sports competition.

When he retired in 1986 at age 55, he embarked on a second track career that earned him national masters titles in senior competitions.

That same year he won the decathlon at the national senior track championships. And just last year he set a world record in the decathlon for the 65-to-69 age group with some of these times and distances:

-- 100-meter dash, 14.09 seconds.

-- 100 hurdles (33-inch hurdles), 19.39.

-- Long jump, 15 feet, 11 inches. (His college best of 24 feet, 3/8 inches earned him All-America honors.)

-- Shot put (11 pounds), 37 feet, 7 inches.

After winning, he reportedly said, "This whole meet was astounding to me as far as learning what I've got left in me. I didn't realize it."

His 7,215-point score smashed the age-66 record of 6,434 set in 1994 by Bailey Gore of Kentucky.

"Sports were his life, pretty much," said his son, Brett Skartvedt of Seattle. "He liked all kinds of board games as well as

athletics. I caught him one time watching televised badminton. I never saw him watch televised fishing, though."

Mr. Skartvedt died last Monday (Dec. 7) of cancer. He was 67.

Born in Mobridge, S.D., he moved to Seattle in the early 1940s when his father got a job in the shipyards. Mr. Skartvedt met his future wife at Ballard High School when they were voted May Day king and queen.

"People said we were joined at the hip," jokes his wife of 46 years, Mary Skartvedt, who, for the past 12 years, walked various Shoreline school tracks or set up hurdles while her husband practiced.

"I used to go out with him every day, set up hurdles and timed him, and it was good exercise for me, too," she said. "But when he got serious about a competition and worked out several hours, he was on his own."

Mr. Skartvedt earned an electrical-engineering degree at the UW in 1955. He served in the Air Force, attaining the rank of captain in the reserves, then went to work on Boeing defense programs.

In 12 years of retirement, he set 12 records in various masters' track events, mainly in hurdles, his wife said. He once told a reporter, "As long as I have that fire burning in the belly, I'm going to keep right on going."

Other survivors include his daughter, Stacie Skartvedt; sister, Carol Nessmer; and brother, Donald Skartvedt, all of Seattle.

At his request, there are no services. Remembrances may go to the American Cancer Society, 2120 First Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109.

Carole Beers' phone message number is 206-464-2391. Her e-mail address is: cbeers@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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