The boys and girls track and field team, led by senior Captains Thomas Betts, Coltrane Joseph, and Ellis Winfree and by senior captains Erin Bowen, Sydney Jett and junior captain Ainsley Vaughan, respectively, are running headfirst into a promise-filled season that is expected to provide team members with many opportunities.
The teams are determined and have adopted a mindset in dedicating themselves to improving their track times or field event distances or heights each and every chance they have.
This year the team returns several experienced runners and field event athletes, which has enabled the coaches to give them harder, more advanced workouts.
As the team prepares for their season and New England championship meets, Betts reflected. “These meets are great opportunities to compete at a high level and get personal bests,” he said.
Track and field has had two important early season meets. In the first meet, on April 6 against Pomfret, Wilbraham & Monson, and Stoneleigh-Burnham, the boys came in second, losing to Wilbraham and beating Pomfret. The girls lost by two points to Wilbraham and beat Pomfret.
In this opening meet, there were several key performances. The boys 4 by 100 meter team won, with strong performances from sophomore Elijah Enfante, who also came in first in the shotput, and senior Broox Bolden, who came in first in the 200 and the 400.
On the girls side, the 4 x 400 team won the event, and junior Syndey Taffe, in addition to being on the winning relay team, also won the triple jump, came in second in the high jump, and came in second in the 100.
The second meet of the season was on April 10 against Greens Farms Academy and Watkinson. Head Coach Tricia Watson described this as a building meet. The rock solid 4 x 100 team of freshman David Shi, junior Jaden Lovelace, sophomore Jeff Davis, and Bolden took first place with a time of 47.6 seconds. Joseph came in first in the 800, and Winfree had a remarkable day with wins in the 300 intermediate hurdles (with a time of 49.3), the shotput, and the discus. In the 110 hurdles, Lovelace came in first with sophomore Braden Flowers coming in second.
The girls team also had a strong performance. Jett won the triple and long jump. Freshman Olivia Reynolds came in first in the 800, followed in third by freshman Ashley Stepnowski. Sophomore Annelise Vaughn took first in the 200 with a time of 28.6, and sophomore Sophia Schultz came in right behind her in second with the same time. Sophomore Rinn Sterling took first place in the 100 with a blistering speed of 13.7. Sophomore Stacey Zhang had a strong day in the field, taking first in shotput and second in discus.
In their pursuit of victories, the boys team has shown a commitment to practice and has mainly focused on two essential aspects of track and field: developing physical strength and learning the proper technique and form in competing in their events.
The boys team is fortunate to have a large number of devoted athletes. One of the team’s strengths lies in the fact that many members are receptive to trying new events.
“We have people training for every event and there is no one area where not enough people are interested,” Betts said.
However, a minor consequence of such a large, young team lies in its lack of experience in competing for championships. The common goal of success has led the team to support one another and to rely on one another to always give their best when competing.
Head Coach Alex Kraus wishes the season was longer since everyone seems to have fun.
As the season progresses, the coaches hope to continue to work on techniques specific to running, shot put, javelin throwing, different jumping events and to establishing an overall team culture that Kingswood Oxford teams of the past have been known for.
The girls’ team hopes their record this year reflects how much hard work they put into practice on a daily basis.
The girls team, same as the boys, is looking forward to the Founders League Championships and the New England Championships, having enjoyed great success last year in placing fifth overall in the New England Championship.
In an effort to return to the glory of their past successes, the girls have challenged themselves with tough early season workouts that have forced them to get back into peak shape.
“We need to lay the foundation for strength and conditioning,” said Coach Watson.
The beginning of the season began with strength training to build muscle and endurance, but as the season progresses and the girls begin to compete in meets, everyone splits up into event–specific groups and all focus on the specialized techniques required for their particular events, be it sprinting, hurdles, jumping or throwing.
There is less of a focus put on speed; instead, the athletes work on perfecting their form and building their endurance.
To accomplish the team’s goal of making competing in championships, the team has stressed the importance of everyone showing up to every practice and meet in a good, positive mood.
The team hopes to realize their full potential by putting all their effort into competing. “I hope we have good relay teams and strong running all around,” said Bowen.
Another goal for the season is to have more girls try out new events and to become more comfortable with the sport overall. Coach Watson believes the team dynamics is held together by the teams’ amazing captains.
The captains help keep the team in check and “They are quite the athletes,” said Coach Watson.
In an effort to overcome the challenges that come with having such a large team, the team works hard to cheer on their teammates in each and every event.
“Since we have so many girls, it’s hard to stay together, but inside one big group are many subgroups,” said Bowen. “We have the sprinters, the throwers, hurdlers, jumpers, the long distance groups, and all these groups look out for each other.”
Watch the boys and girls track and field teams, as they give it their all, at their next home game on May 8, at 3:00 p.m. at Conard High School.