Backtracking: A Look at this year’s track season

Kaitlin Bethay, Spotlight Editor

According to the Collin American English Dictionary, track and field “refers to sports that are played or performed on a racetrack and a nearby field, such as running, the high jump, and the javelin.”

According to juniors Austen Dalquist, Derek Gutierrez, and Jake McConnell, track and field is life.

Dalquist, Gutierrez and McConnell run on the varsity track team and advanced past the district UIL meet to area this spring. From there, both Dalquist and McConnell ran their way to regionals in Lubbock.

“It was really great,” McConnell said. “Everyone ran really well and I got third in the 800 meter.”

The athletes attribute their recent successes to new mentors, Coach Overshown and Coach Nieboer.

“The new coaches are great!” Dalquist said. “They are really helping to build this team back up and reestablish the program as a whole.”

Great guidance and natural talent can only take a sprinter so far; in the end, training and individual preparation separate the winners and the losers. Techniques including abdominal and lean muscle work, lots of stretching and eating a sufficient amount of protein and carbs, immensely aid in preparation. Of course, nothing could replace building endurance by simply running.

“If it’s towards the end of the season the workouts we do during the week aren’t necessarily as hard,” Gutierrez said. “We go a little easy so that we’re not sore for the big race. Honestly, that is almost all we do—run.”

With all the physical exertion that comes from working out and competing, it is important to, as Dalquist put it, “listen to your body” in order to protect oneself from injuries.

“I try to always warm up right and stretch,” Gutierrez said. “Every now and then I’ll wrap my knees or my ankles with pre-wrapping tape if my muscles feel swollen or inflamed.”

Then there is the infamous ice bath, which breaks up the lactic acid that builds up in muscles.

“After a while you lose feeling in your legs, but it’s actually kind of nice, especially on a hot day,” Gutierrez said. “It’s outside, so we have actually iced when it’s below 40 and drizzling. We only stay in for seven minutes, so no one really gets sick.”

While ice baths and pre-wrapping tape might protect against physical maladies, they provide little alleviation when it comes to butterflies in the stomach.

“I used to get really nervous before meets and have stomach aches, but I’ve run so many races, I’ve accepted that if I do my best nothing more can be done or said about it,” Dalquist said. “I go into meets with confidence. Running is so mental, and having confidence in one’s own abilities really put you ahead of the rest.”

Overall, Dalquist, Gutierrez and McConnell feel like this season has shown development in the team and in themselves.

“Personally this season has been great for me,” Dalquist said. “I’ve shown vast improvement all around. I’m improving my two-mile by 29 seconds and my mile by 16 seconds. The distance team is strong and the sprinters will get better with time.”

These improvements are definitely worth noting, considering the caliber of surrounding schools.

“It generally depends on the race, but overall our district is probably the toughest in the state,” Gutierrez said. “Especially for my race, the 800 meter, because the top four people in the state come from our district.”

It is no question that one who competes in track has a passion for running, however it is not always obvious where that passion originates.

“Running gives me a chance to physically exert myself more than anything else can,” Gutierrez said. “One of the best feelings in the world is sitting down and having a cold drink after a hard workout, relaxing and knowing that you pushed yourself the hardest. It also gives me a time to think and just be alone.”

Dalquist shares a similar sentiment.

“I like to run because it is a raw sport, just you, your shoes, and the ground.” Dalquist said. “I love to run. I love the feeling I get from running. I love seeing improvement and I love pushing myself. With running, all the work you put in is shat you get out of it. People ask me all the time why I run, how I deal with the pain or the heat, and I say to go out and try it, because it really is something else. “