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Fifteen years of bad luck turns around with a conference win for boy’s track and field

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Breaking the fifteen year long drought, the boys track and field team stepped up to win the Conference Championship title of first place. Their unconventional approach to the season with new runners and a fresh mindset made a huge difference in the team dynamic. A huge part of that was the supportive nature of the team that made the group a closer knit community.

Senior and track captain Tristan Kerr played a large part in the success of the season when he changed in his mindset as a captain.

“I think the best part about conference wasn’t actually racing but cheering on everyone,” Tristan said. “It was my job as a captain, and I had a lot of fun doing it. I changed my role from just being a member on the team to being a coach for some people. I would kind of yell at that and get them hyped, and then after I’d tell them how they raced.”

The win, although surprising, was a work in progress that started in the off season when members of the team did intensive training. Over the course of the season, the team was nearly undefeated, only losing to Greenville by four points when several runners were missing or unable to run that meet. In the final conference meet however, the team pulled through and beat Greenville.

“I’ve been saying since November when we started working out in the off season that we had a chance,” Tristan said. “I was kind of joking around at first, but then the more I said it, the more we believed in it. We were working towards that more as captains this year more than we ever had.”

Assistant coach Nils Eastburg noticed the difference in the team as well, noting that the new leadership was a key component to their success.

“I think that this all began when Tristan and Hunter decided to make it a goal to go for this championship back in November,” Eastburg said. “I was able to help them with some of their training, but it was their passion and leadership that carried this victory.”

Along with gaining many talented seniors, the additional members of the coaching staff also impacted the team, especially Eastburg. Because of the close relationships between Eastburg and his runners, the dedication and spirit of the team has grown exponentially.

“I think having Nils work out with all of us in the off season really had a big influence on how we were going to do going into the season,” Tristan said. “He ran just as much as us at the meets and would always yell at us and cheer us on. Coach Steverson always had the right words to tell you after your race, so you would know what you needed to work on. Nils especially had an impact on us because he had more of a friend relationship with all of the kids. He thought of everyone not as just players but also as friends.”

Eastburg’s positive and encouraging coaching style was something that rubbed off on the team, creating a more selfless team out of the boys. Tristan personally changed his outlook on the season based on Eastburg and his training style.

“I think it’s harder for track kids to realize that it’s not an individual sport, even though you’re working really hard to improve your own times and your form,” Tristan said.  “At the end of last season, I had plans to improve my times by a lot and get better overall to hopefully be able to run in college. But when the season came around, I realized, that it’s a team sport, not an individual one, and I had never really look at it like that.”

“I think what I learned is that sometimes you have to switch up your role to succeed,” Tristan said. “I started out the season thinking that I was going to do just as well as I did last year in hurdling, but then I actually had a terrible year running. So I kind of switched it up, and I played more of a supportive role for the team, instead of being the guy that people looked to for scoring points. I kind of stepped back and become more of the guy who was cheering on everyone. It just took time for me to get my stuff down, so I had to be patient during the season.”

The hard work of the team definitely paid off, and that passion was embodied by several runners on and off the team.

“[Junior] Ryan Talbot surprised me the most,” Tristan said. “I knew he was athletic and really good at high jump, long jump, and pole vaulting, and then he joined hurdles and was good since day one. So he also pushed me to be better all season, and it surprised me how good he was at the start. Also [sophomore] Patrick Ho and [junior] Geoffrey Batterbee both really improved, and they definitely stepped their game when they had people believing in them.”

In addition to those few extraordinarily talented runners, senior Moise Guerrier also contributed the win as a major point scorer at the conference meet. In his opinion, the 4x400m was a phenomenal race to run as the last event.

“The four by four is a special event, and it’s the last event,” Moise said. “Usually, it’s the event that it comes down between winning and being second place. We all want to win. I guess what’s most special about it is when we all gather around the curve by the 100 meter mark to cheer on our teammates, and when you see people going back and forth between the two sidelines, it feels so cool.”

The conference meet was a success, showing the team that working hard and staying positive is the way to win a season.

“I started training with the group as well back in January,” Moise said. “It taught me the power of just working hard toward something and believing in yourself. Running is not just physical, it’s also mental. Believing in yourself plays a big part in it, and when you believe you can win when you’re running, you will get there.”

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Fifteen years of bad luck turns around with a conference win for boy’s track and field