Track and Field triumphs in the first meet of the season

Declan McDaniels

With the sun scorching above and batons in hand, athletes flooded the Doug “Flash” Basham track in anticipation of their first race of the season on Thursday, March 17. Redwood was feeling lucky this St. Patrick’s Day, as both the girls’ and boys’ varsity teams beat Marin Catholic and Terra Linda by a considerable amount. This year’s track team is the biggest it has ever been, with just under 200 students participating daily. The team is heavy with underclassmen, but there are standout competitors across the board. Given these sizable numbers, senior Valentino Starbird spoke on the importance of staying focused and motivated during practices. 

“[Track] is a lot of discipline because we have to stay true to doing strength days and actually practicing when our coach is not looking,” Starbird said. “Because it is such a big team, a lot of the captains have to step up and help run the practices. I think everybody wants to improve which is why we’re all getting better.”

At track meets, the winner is determined by which team has the most points at the end of the meet, and points are accumulated by individual athletes when they do well in their events. First place earns five points, second place earns three points and third place earns one point. Junior Conor Weasler outlined that the scoring in track, compared to many other sports, makes the sport even more interesting. 

Setting his hands behind the starting line, junior Miles Grossman gets ready to explode out of his stance in the 400-meter race around the track.

“Your individual performance is all based on yourself, but you’re still a part of a team. Everyone has to do well individually for the team to win,” Weasler said. “Although you can control how you do in your event, a team win still takes a team effort.”

While most track events involve individual performances, relay races are composed of four sprinters that are working together to beat out their opponent. This year’s boys varsity 4×100 relay team is consistently outperforming the opposition, and they are one of the top teams in the state. Junior Jack Putney, a sprinter on the team, talked about their advantage over other less experienced teams.

“We’ve been practicing as a group a lot. It’s been a consistent relay team throughout the time we’ve all been doing track, so the team chemistry is there compared to other teams that got put together last second,” Putney said.

Senior Alexander Maher and juniors Miles Grossman and Baden Bunch are also members of the boys varsity 4×100 relay team. As a unit, the four sprinters have steadily decreased their time with consistent training and commitment. Putney reflected on the team’s improvement over the past few weeks, displaying immense confidence in their capability.

Sprinting ahead of the competition, junior Baden Bunch finishes the last leg of the boys varsity 4×100-meter relay race to solidify the win.

The group is 0.7 seconds away from the Redwood 4×100 relay record, but Putney emphasized that the team still has a lot to work on in terms of technique. Starbird also mentioned the significance of technique in a sport like track, explaining what it takes to be in the top ranks.

“Technique is 90 percent of the actual event because you can be talented and naturally fast, but if you’re really slow out of the blocks or you don’t have good form while you’re running, that’s going to waste your time,” Starbird said. “It is really the epitome of ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.’”

Along with the boys varsity 4×100 relay team, there were many other standouts in the meet that led to Redwood’s success. Sophomore Tatum McPeek won the girls varsity 400-meter race with a 62.21-second sprint, Starbird received first place in high jump, discus and shotput and Bunch blew away his competition in the boys varsity 100-meter race. Weasler describes the environment of the track meet as very welcoming and lively, as opponents are extremely encouraging.

“It is a really friendly environment,” Weasler said, “I’d say that some sports get a little toxic. With the environment of a track meet, everyone is competing, but they’re also pushing others to do better rather than trying to take them down.”

As the track team continues throughout the season, the young prospects will continue to improve, and the seasoned veterans will continue to lead. This was just the first meet of the season, giving immense potential for growth in all events. According to Weasler, there is one specific event that should be watched closely by the Redwood community in the coming weeks.

“Watch out for the boys 4×100 meter record,” Weasler said. “It will probably get beaten soon.”