In a typical Los Altos High track and field meet, more people run from one side of the field to the other than are actually in the race. Team members cheer on runners from the sidelines, yelling and pushing the runners to their full capabilities. This 2013 season, one of the biggest factors in the track and field team’s success is the energy and enthusiasm from both students and coaches.
“I’ve never seen spirit like this—ever— in our team,” sprinting coach Pam Harris said. “In the past years, kids would finish their events and leave, so by the end there would be no one to cheer anyone on.”
The team’s success proves the effort shown by the track team’s coaching staff. The Eagles’ only losses are to Lynbrook and Palo Alto, both in the 4x400m relay. Distance Coach Dan Oren takes no excuses, and the coaching staff made a tremendous effort in stressing leadership within the upperclassmen.
“When we came into this season, we said, ‘Look, it starts with the coaches’ energy and it starts with our leaders’ energy, and if we [the coaches] don’t bring it—and if the seniors don’t bring it—it’s just going to be kind of weak,” Co-Head Coach David Barth said. “So we’ve made a commitment as a coaching staff this year to try to energize our leaders—our seniors.”
With this intensity originating within the coaching staff and the new attention brought to the work ethic this year, it’s easy to see how this eagerness has translated to the athletes.
“Everyone needs to show up, there’s really not a lot of excuses this year,” senior Alex Carr said. “We have a lot of less people that go to the trainer and just sit. Everyone actually does the workouts and goes to the meets. People work a lot harder now, and that really helps.”
Months of hard work manifested through the athletes during the Saratoga meet on Thursday, April 4, with personal bests from sprinters and mid and long distance runners.
Sprinter senior Danny Yeager doubled up on personal bests in the 200m and 400m dashes, with times of 22.84 and 51.66 seconds, respectively. As for varsity girls, freshman Amanda Mell ran her fastest time in the season during her 100m dash with a time of 13.60. In her 100m dash, senior Tashina Thuraisingam ran a career best with 14.99. For the 800m event, junior Konrad Niemiec broke the two-minute barrier with a time of 1:59.84, and sophomore Annelise Gallagher earned a career mark of 2:27.10. As for distance events, senior Alex Carr ran a personal best in the 1600m with a time of 4:31.21, and freshman Lauren Jacob ran her fastest time with 5:11.29.
Many of the athletes on the distance team for track came from a successful cross- country season. For Konrad, however, a successful cross-country season isn’t the only reason for the track and field team’s triumphs: team members have pushed the frontiers of their own individual events.
“We as athletes are coached very well, and also work very hard,” Konrad said. “We are coming off a CCS title in cross-country, but it’s the other areas of the track that have really picked it up this year, like in the sprints. We have the coaches and our own hard work to thank for that.”
Because the coaches put in so much effort, team members are more internally motivated to push themselves to become better in their events. In fact, according to sprinter senior Willem Van Eck, many athletes have been able to pull out clutch wins in their races. Senior Arthur Bogdanovich inched out a win by three hundredths of a second to win the 400m dash during the Pacific Grove meet.
Even during the Top 8 Meet on Saturday, April 20, athletes set new PRs on the track. The girls 4x400m relay, composed of Anneliese, freshman Lauren Jacob, sophomore Romy Aboudarham and senior Claire Bowie, set a season record to place them in 11th place. The boys 4x400m relay team of Arthur, Willem, Konrad and junior Kelly McConnell beat their record by a whole four seconds to take third place.
Overall, the track and field team’s success this season was greatly influenced by a newfound energy within the team. With a strong coaching philosophy and overall greater intensity, the team hopes this energy will carry into the 2014 season next year.