Track and Field Blaze Their Way Through the Season’s First Meet
March 1, 2023
If you were to ask students which sport has the most athletes at West, you’d likely hear a mix of responses — from swimming to cross country, there seems to be an ever-changing rotation of new and returning competitors. However, few sports can rival the sheer number of runners in West High’s Track and Field, as well as their tight-knit bond. Though organizing the logistics of any competition can be hectic, Head Coach Madera described how the pride of seeing all athletes finally reap the fruits of their labor outweighed how taxing the planning process was. “Being behind the scenes and seeing all the moving parts it takes to get a meet to happen was really challenging at first,” he admitted. Training for athletes could begin as early as summer, with their sights set upon competitions more than nine months away; however, their tenacity would prove to pay off. Despite the meet not being a point-based competition, each athlete had trained their hardest to give their best in each event. “I had about six or seven kids who have been training since last June and are finally able to compete, and the level of dedication that it takes is incredible,” he added.
Although meets are usually thought of as a contest against opposing schools, varsity long jumper Caden Matsumoto (10) explained that events were also a test against himself: “Watching your numbers get higher really keeps you motivated. Every time I come out here, I try to improve my marks, for the sake of my team and myself.”
Track’s emphasis on individual events and results is extremely clear-cut — as a sport with number-based results, progress is evident through dropped times. Coach Madera further explained that “Whatever you put into the sport is what you get out of it, and you’ll see the results. It doesn’t matter if somebody else isn’t working as hard as you. They won’t bring you down because you know you put in the work, and you’ll reap the rewards for it.” However, individual events don’t make the team any less close — Girls’ Varsity sprinter Shannon Gilman (10) emphasized how the “team” aspect of track was apparent when each athlete supported each other: “I feel like a lot of people forget that track is a team sport because everyone has their individual races, but the team part comes in when you’re cheering them on and trying to be a supportive teammate.” Coach Madera praised Bernice Nkemnji (10) in particular for her constant encouragement and support towards her teammates throughout the meet. “My favorite part of the meet today was the fact that every time I walked around, I could hear her shouting and cheering on every single one of her teammates — boy, girl, no matter the event,” he recounted. “That’s definitely what made me happiest,” he added, an easy grin settling across his face.
It goes without saying that sports require tenacity and dedication to the craft, especially when it comes to achieving what goals an athlete has set for themselves. Though goal-setting inevitably brings obstacles along the way, progress can only be made by soldiering through challenges. For newer athletes, achieving goals can prove especially hard, but Matsumoto assured that enduring through tough times can prove to be all the more gratifying. “What I tell newer athletes is don’t give up. Even if you’re not the best at it when you first start — nobody goes into things being the best at it and you have to work hard for that.”