photo by Aislinn Menke
On a typical Monday track practice, the bleachers are nearly full — not with fans, but with the track team. With 180 athletes participating in track, the team dynamic is not necessarily the norm compared to the more typical 30-person sports teams at East. Due to the wide range of events, the team has seven teams within in it, each sector with their own dynamic and personality. Read below to find out more about three of these groups, from throwers to distance runners to jumpers.
If a spectator makes their way to the secluded shot put and discus rings during a track meet, chances are they will come across two throwers debating whether someone has truly ever kissed a boy in their heated game of ‘Never Have I Ever’ next to a spinning shot put thrower.
The throwers, known notoriously for skimping out on the warm-up lap, are pinned as the “lazy and weird” group, according to sophomore shot put and discus thrower Lee Marshall.
Whether they’re sporting neon green crop tops on “crop top Wednesday” or making t-shirts with their coaches’ faces on them, throwers are always finding a new way to entertain themselves.
After a brief warm-up, freshman Abigail Patton might be found throwing a fellow teammate’s shoes on the track shed roof, while mid-distance runners practice their interval sprints around the track.
Pattan agrees with the lazy stereotype of the group, adding that often times people will come up to her while she’s in her track uniform, unaware that she participates in the sport.
“And we’ll say, ‘Yes we’re throwers,’” said Pattan. “And then they’re like ‘Ohh, that makes sense.’”
Though senior thrower Kennedy Krumm agrees that the thrower’s laziness is maybe more evident than the other events’, she believes their shenanigans stem from the closeness of the athletes rather than a lack in drive.
“I think when we don’t do a workout or drill it’s not because we don’t want to, it’s just because we are having such a good time talking and goofing around with each other,” Krumm said.
When it comes down to it, the throwers still spend two hours perfecting their footwork to improve their throwing distance of a 16 pound shot put or heavy javelin — they just might be sporting a crop top while doing it.
The jumpers — long, triple and high — are known as the “obsolete” group according to jumpers sophomore Jodie Duncan and junior Olive Henry. The preconceived notion of this group is that they lack motivation and aren’t known as a tight-knit group.
In reality, according to senior high jumper Carly Hendrickson, what people forget to consider is that the jumpers use an immense amount of effort for only a few seconds, allowing for more rest time.
“For high jump specifically, it’s just running like ten steps and then you putting all of your momentum and force into the ground to go up, instead of like running [events],” Hendrickson said.
This, along with only having Ron Stallard as the coach for the three separate jumping events, allows jumpers to have more free time than the average track athlete.
To pass the time, a game of four square is a popular choice for the jumpers. They make use of the bungees that are used for high jumpers to jump over, forming an “X” with them to make a four square court, and retrieve balls from girls’ soccer practice to use.
As far as the closeness of the group, Henry is quick to denounce the rumor that jumpers don’t associate with each other, citing team pasta nights and “Mama Mia!” dance parties as evidence of their team bonding.
“We’re making a comeback this year,” Henry said. “We’re a family, we’re really tight knit now.”
For distance runners, the end of five hour track meets usually aren’t met with a bowl of ice cream and a recovery Netflix session. Instead, they’re usually met with the infamous Delmar hill — the same hill where underclassmen fight for parking spots at 7:30 in the morning.
The runners aren’t parking — they are running up and down the hill while the rest of the track team makes their way home to their beds.
According to distance coach Rikki Hacker, the extra mileage and strenuous workouts are primary factors that distinguish the distance group from other track events.
Running hills after meets isn’t the only extra work distance runners put in. Some training days for distance runners consist of two practices, with one occurring at 5 a.m. and the other after school — not to mention Saturday morning practices where the group will run up to 12 miles.
However, according to junior distance runner Jack Fisher, this extra training, along with the small group dynamic, makes distance one of the most tight-knit groups in track. While the sprinter group consists of around 40 people, the distance group may finish their 10 mile runs with only five people left in the group.
“When you are with the same five people everyday you really grow a great friendship with them,” Fisher said. “They become your friends in school, outside of school, and people you’ll stay in contact with the rest of your life.”
Whether they’re in the cafeteria during first lunch, playing ultimate frisbee in the dark nights of winter or finishing a race — they’re doing it together.