Racing through a successful track season

Chelsea Li

As the spring sports season rolls around, Lynbrook’s track and field team has began practicing every weekday after school. The team has approximately 150 members this year and has welcomed an influx of new athletes, especially freshmen, starting off the season with a victory for the JV team against Los Gatos.

This year is also sprints, jumps and hurdles coach Bernie Ramos’s second season coaching for the team. Having previously coached for Milpitas High School, he joined Lynbrook’s team halfway through the season last year.

“Last year, I came in toward the last eight to ten weeks of the season, so [the athletes] didn’t have a good base in terms of how they started the season,” said Ramos. “[This season,] I would like to see many individuals qualify at the CCS level and see where we go from there.”

So far, Ramos has helped short distance runners and jumpers work toward their goals, placing a focus on running form rather than power. Senior Raymond Lau, who has participated in track since freshman year, is training with Ramos for the 100 meter, 200 meter, the 4 by 1 relay and long jump.

“[Bernie’s] more technical than our previous coach,” said Lau. “He focuses on making us faster and he also really believes that anyone can be a fast runner. He teaches us nutrition and proper form, [which] are probably the most important parts of running.”

The track team’s pre-season started as soon as school resumed in January, lasting approximately a month before the season officially started. The season began with a time trial, in which athletes were timed for their events as if they were at a meet, so that they had an idea of how well they were doing and how much they needed to improve. The team then participated in the Andy Anderson Relays, a scrimmage — an informal meet in which all the events are relays — held at Santa Clara High School. The first official meet of the season was the Los Gatos Dual Meet, held at Los Gatos High School on March 7. As the team attends meets every week and invitationals on the weekends, athletes have many opportunities to improve their personal records.

“High school track is much more intense than middle school,” said freshman Sunny Li, a long distance runner. “I felt pretty nervous about my first meet, but I think I did pretty well. Because of the pre-season and longer practice times [than in middle school], I feel more confident at meets.”

A typical practice begins with all athletes meeting on the bleachers and listening to any announcements from coach Jake White. Afterward, the team splits up into their separate events to do warm-ups and begin practicing with specialized coaches. The types of workouts athletes perform on a regular day depends on the events they specialize in; for example, long distance runners usually run five to eight miles each practice, usually off campus, while short distance runners and field athletes work with their coaches on the football field. On days before a meet, the team would end their practices earlier in order to conserve their energy for the race the next day.

“For sprinters, we run a mile for warm-up then do our dynamic stretches,” said Lau. “At this part of the season, our workouts consist of not much running but improving our form, like developing hip muscle.”

While many athletes have returned to track this season in order to improve their personal records, interact with friends and maintain a healthy lifestyle, others were new to the team and wanted to meet new people and participate in a sport during high school. Because track is a coed sport with approximately 150 members, athletes are constantly able to meet and interact with new people, despite participating in an individual sport.

“I’ve met many new friends through track I wouldn’t have known otherwise,” said Li. “Unlike other sports, there isn’t a clear distinction between varsity and JV, so the whole team is more unified.”

Many others decided to try a different event this year, especially during their last high school season, as track allows athletes plenty of freedom to try out any event they are interested in.

“This year I’m doing long jump, because my mom told me I’m pretty skinny and that’s good for jumping,” said Lau. “I’m doing pretty well in that.”

Along with becoming stronger physically, many athletes hoped to forge new relations through mentoring younger teammates in their events as a way of bonding.

“I have more younger teammates [this year] so I can give them more advice,” said junior Sandy Matsuda, who is a short distance runner. “Especially if they’re new to hurdles, I can teach them techniques.”

Senior athletes especially hope to pass on their experience in the sport and lead their team with moral support and encouragement.

“I want to be a better leader for the team, knowing that I’m not the fastest or strongest on the team,” said Lau. “I want to be able to encourage a lot of freshmen who can become faster and stronger than me.”

The team’s overarching goal this season is to win as many meets as they can while individual athletes hope to qualify for certain meets or Central Coast Section (CCS).

“We got a lot of new freshmen this year, so we can set new goals for ourselves as a team,” said sophomore Alisha Naidu, a long distance runner. “This year, we’re trying to qualify for a really big meet called Arcadia and we can do that because we have a lot of fast freshmen girls.”

By practicing every weekday after school and encouraging each other to perform better with every race, as well as bonding with their teammates outside of practice, the team hopes to overcome any obstacles and meet their goals.

“My philosophy is simple,” said head coach Jake White. “You come out and work out every day. You do the workout and don’t worry about the times; the times will come. Our goal is to win as many meets as we can. We [are in] a very tough league, and it’s not that easy to win them all.”

The Lynbrook track team is off to a strong start to the season; with personal records to set and CCS on the horizon, track athletes are giving every practice and meet their full efforts, all while establishing tight bonds with their teammates.

“This sport is such a rollercoaster ride,” said Ramos. “We have our good days and our bad days but we just [place] trust in the program, try to learn through those tough days and start the next days a little better.”

The team’s next home meet is on April 12 against Gunn High School.