Track looks to start season fast
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No longer a no-cut sport students take to fulfill their P.E. credits, the school’s track and field team aims to set the bar high this season through successful team dynamics and individual perseverance.
Last year’s season yielded some impressive performances. The team sent several athletes, including the varsity boys 4×400 meter relay team, to the state meet.
“[When] an athlete or relay team makes it to the state meet, I am so excited for them,” co-head coach Gerri Baldwin said. “From CCS only the top three athletes make it to state, [one of the] biggest meets a high school athlete will ever compete in. I think there is the potential to send three individuals and a relay team [this year].”
Track and field is one of the largest sports at Los Altos; it has a current total 165 athletes with 30 more expected to arrive once winter sports have concluded. In recent years, tryouts have been required to ensure every athlete is capable and committed.
“So far our staff is extremely happy with the athletes on the team,” Baldwin said. “Everyone is working hard, everyone is excited for the season; we have a real positive vibe.”
Last season, however, demonstrated that Los Altos still has room to improve, as neither boys nor girls varsity won league finals. Fortunately, several of 2015’s frosh-soph league victors will be bringing their talents to varsity this year, including junior sprinter and thrower Derek Mark. Last year, Derek won the frosh-soph boys open 400, ran on the winning frosh-soph boys 4×400 relay team, placed second in discus and even joined the 4×400 relay team that went to state championships.
Another aspect of track and field competition is the limited number of slots per varsity event, which encourages teammates to compete against each other and push each other to higher levels. With multiple strong competitors in most events, competition within the team is fierce, but still healthy.
“While the competition for a varsity spot is tight, my teammates remain sportsmanlike and friendly, no matter what result they get,” distance runner sophomore Nathan Godderis said. “We are all supportive of one another. We motivate each other in workouts… to run faster and longer.”
This team spirit helps in a sport where much of the time success needs to be attained individually.
“Track isn’t easy,” Derek said. “The most challenging part of track for me is balancing out all my events. I have many different types of events, ranging from discus to the 300 meter hurdles to the 400 meter, making it difficult for me to train for each one in addition to competing in all of them at a dual meet.”
Los Altos has many successful returning athletes among the team. Most notably is the distance team, with two talented veteran seniors Lauren Jacob and Ben Zaeske. Between track and cross country, both have experienced running at States, and will hopefully go out with a bang during the last season of their high school athletic careers.
Unfortunately, Los Altos continues to struggle garnering enough female competitors.
“On the girls side we have a traditionally small team, so we don’t have the depth to capture as many points against teams like Los Gatos, Gunn and Palo Alto,” Baldwin said.
The boys, however, have sufficient numbers and will hopefully be a serious force to reckon with in the 2016 track and field season.
“I think the boys team has the potential to win [leagues],” Baldwin said. “We just need to keep everyone healthy and [make] sure we put everyone in the right events that will score the team the most points.”