Track and field runs together as one

Along with evident natural skill and talent, the track and field team’s success is fueled by their team alliance and ability to rely on each other for support. Despite track and field consisting of numerous different events that all require different skills, the dynamic between players and their unification still plays an integral role in their success.

On Saturday, March 9, the NP team took their talents to Thousand Oaks High School for a meet, where they got to show off all their hard work for the season. All levels competed in several events and several students broke some of their personal records (PR) in their category. Through all their individual successes, the athletes rallied behind each other and reached new heights together.
On the field, the pole vaulting team took the competition by storm and soared beyond their PRs. One vaulter, sophomore Javi Tantoco (PR of 10’ 6), is grateful for the intense team bond that he and the vaulters have fostered this season. “I probably wouldn’t do track and field if the pole vault team wasn’t as social and open,” Tantoco said.

With so much dedication pouring from these athletes, they also know the importance of not getting overwhelmed by pressure. “We always keep each other’s spirits high and encourage each other to have fun. We are pretty much constantly laughing whether it’s at practice or at a meet which helps us stay positive,” Tantoco said.

Another pole vaulter, sophomore Kaia Duben (PRs of 10 ft for pole and 14.6 for the 100), was able to break her sprinting personal record on the March 9th meet. “I PRd by about .5 sec,” Duben said. Just like her teammate Tantoco, Duben is grateful that the pole vaulting community are all extremely good friends. “My event is more individually focused, but the pole vaulters are a pretty tight knit community,” Duben said. Duben finds that rooting for your sport and school as a whole rallies the team and raises spirits. “It always feels really good when my teammates are happy when I’ve done a good jump,” Duben said.

For the throw category, shot put and discus athletes also have a desire to PR, and each meet is a new opportunity, but it requires time and hard work to progress. Lily Cohen, junior (PR: discus 112, shot put 32.6), competes in shot put and discus. Throughout her years growing at NPHS, Cohen has learned to bide her time for improvement until the time comes to PR. “I have learned about patience, because although you want to PR every time, it takes time and you have to work up to it,” Cohen said.

In the world of long distance, the same elements of support and positivity surround the athletes. One runner, sophomore Gabe Bernandino (PRs of 4:36 mile and 9:57 two mile), said, “Track is definitely a more individual sport, but we are very close with each other and count on each other as a team during the cross-country season.” Beyond their athletic skills, Bernandino values that the team is able to acquire a lot of skills useful for life outside of track. “Being on this team has taught me and the other athletes accountability, discipline, consistency, leadership and perseverance, as these skills are required to have a successful season,” Bernandino said. Backed by his teammates, Bernandino was able to beat his PR on the 9th, where he, “…broke the 4:40 barrier on Saturday, and ran 4:36 for the first time.”

The interactions between sprinters can be especially important for runners that compete in groups of four, and specifically their timing is everything. Gwen Suh, sophomore (PRs of 100: 13.45, 200: 28.55, & 4×1: 52.24), depends on her 3 other teammates to place and potentially beat their PR. On March 14, at another meet, Suh placed first in three different events. In the 100 and 200, she placed 1st and broke her 200 record by 0.2 seconds and in the 4×100, along with Mia Banks, Madison Watson, and Kate Johnson, she placed 1st with a time of 54.38, 5 full seconds ahead of the 2nd place team. “Although track and field is primarily an individual event, it’s nice when we come together as a team for relays, gaining points at league meets, and setting goals for our team,” Suh said. These collaboration skills will serve the athletes for long beyond their high school careers. “By interacting with my team, I’ve learned to work with people I wouldn’t usually interact with. Also, learning to work with a variety of people has taught me that even though we may have differences, we can also share similar goals and support each other along the way to achieve them,” Suh said.

As a whole, the track and field athletes value their ability to come together and rally behind each other in order to send each other to success. In the words of Tantoco, “The motivation helps us strive for great heights.”