Track & field finds strength in diverse events

This year, the boys track team has a record of 1-3 and the girls track team holds a record of 2-2. The entire team had two main goals for this season: send competitors to state and build team unity. Coach Kurt Spann said it is hard to make a track team feel like one big team because there are so many different events that people branch off into, which is why it is one of the team’s goals.

“We have made more team meetings rather than just starting practice and going off into your event group. We start with the entire team somedays or end with the entire team on other days. One of the first few meets, I had everyone draw a name out of the hat, and they were supposed to cheer for the athlete during the track meet that we had coming up,” Spann said.

Along with moral support and team gatherings, Spann said the sport also focuses on individual growth in performance of their event.

“We really like to focus on helping each kid, whether they’re going to state or probably not going to state … reach their best athletic self,” Spann said. “In my mind, track is at the heart of all athletics. It gives people of all shapes and sizes something they can excel in. It doesn’t take just one type of person to do well in track. There is a spot for everybody.”

The track team strives to not leave any athlete behind, according to Spann. Senior Hannah Jensen said this is one of the things that she appreciates about track.

“I love the team aspect about track and how you are always pushing yourself to try to beat your own time,” Jensen said. “Everyone is there to cheer you on and try to help you achieve your goal.”

The many events available to students allow for a diverse group of kids from long distance runners to throwers. Junior Cooper Laird said he likes the variety of track events available and how people can choose how deeply they want to be involved.

“The thing about track is that it is a no-cut sport. There are people that are competitive and trying to compete in college and then there are kids that are doing it just to have fun and get exercise. That balances out and creates such a fun environment, and it isn’t 100 percent intense,” Laird said. “It is never just like ‘goof around’ [either].”

Fifth in KingCo in the 3200 m at 9:34 seconds, Laird said he has been running all his life. He said his dad, who ran in both high school and college, was one of the main reasons that he decided to compete in high school.

“It’s kind of the thing that we do together. I mean, we both have running streaks. I’ve run every day for the past seven years; he has run every day for the past nine years, so it is the thing we share,” Laird said. “He has to travel a lot for work, and so it has been nice to have that thing that keeps us together.”

On the girls’ side, sophomore Erica Swift said that she has been working to reach her personal best this year in her events. Swift is second in KingCo for the 200 m sprint, setting a new personal record (PR) of 26.18 seconds.

Senior Kincaid Schmitt joined track last year after a severe shoulder injury forced him to miss the entirety of the baseball season. He is ranked second in the 200 m, 400 m and long jump in KingCo.

“I’m normally a baseball player, so I thought I’ll just give track a try,” Schmitt said. “I ended up really enjoying it and doing really well and decided to do it again this year.”

At the end of the day, Spann said the team just wants to compete.

“We are looking to go as hard as we can from beginning to end,” Spann said, “so that we know that we have given ourselves the best chance possible to do our best.”