Track 2023: Leaping Over New Hurdles

Track 2023: Leaping Over New Hurdles

Timothy So

Eshmom Haque, Staff Writer

Oxford’s track and field athletes are back at meets, competing in sports ranging from slow-going and gritty events, like shot-put, to flashy 100m dashes. With Coaches McJilton, Tran, and Polk at the helm, they have trained their athletes for placement in the League Finals and CIF playoffs. During finals, Oxford placed 1st place in the 4×100 Girls Frosh Soph Relay, and 3rd in the 4×100 Boys Frosh Soph event. 

Boys first place winners include Luke Anderson (10) in boys frosh/soph 110 hurdles, Jackson Goulding (12) in boys varsity 110 hurdles, Bryan Nguyen (12) in boys varsity long jump, Issac Le (9) in boys frosh/soph high Jump, Franklin Cortell (9) in boys frosh/soph discus. Girls first place winners consist of Fiona Li (10) in frosh/soph long jump, Hien Nguyen (11) in girls varsity long jump, and Samantha Schramm (9) in girls frosh/soph discus throw.

In preparation for this meet, the coaches utilized their knowledge of previous seasons to innovate. Since the majority of track runners come from cross-country after fall season ends, they have to gradually transition to faster-paced running events. Coach Tran has tried to make this change easier, honing in on increasing their explosive sprinting power.

“We focus on things like speed work. So we do lots of drills, and we do lots of time trials on the track,” said Tran. “We do a lot of strength training in the weight room because fast runners are muscular runners… They got hamstrings, they got quads, and they got a booty.”

For throwers, Coach McJilton has set high expectations for his athletes, encouraging his boys to bench 230 this season and girls to bench 130. However, all track and field coaches have emphasized the importance of showing up every day to practice and training consistently before meets.

“We want to condition our athletes so that when they’re on that track, when they’re on that meet day… they are showing us what they are capable of. In running you can’t fake it, you can’t show up to meet day and do a 5 minute mile,” said Coach Tran. 

However, it’s been difficult for the three coaches to manage 100+ athletes after the departure of Coach Korr, who directed jumping. Multiple meets have also been canceled due to the unexpected rain in March, leading to more disorganization. With the help of student captains, Helen Tran, Jomar Maza, Hien Nguyen, Javier Luna, Jackson Goulding, and Kristela Avendano, they have supported their athletes in their respective events despite these trying times. 

“There was a lot of miscommunication off-season and during the season. Since our events are separate it’s hard to coordinate with other events,” said Helen Tran. “All of our track meets got canceled and it was hard to get practice in because of the weather. So it’s been a challenge to pace ourselves and see where we were at.” 

Even with these setbacks, student captains have focused on nailing down form and technique due to the addition of many new athletes. Utilizing their expertise and experience throughout past seasons, student coaches have jump started their newer athletes by introducing more advanced techniques early on. 

“Even from the very start, we have our new kids start learning how to spin, because form is everything. We were trying out different types of spins and coach had all of us experimenting to see what was best for us,” Helen Tran said. 

Next season, track coaches and student captains hope to see more engagement with their athletes with more bonding events and team building. They also hope to get more funding for their teams, since track and field has comparatively fewer fundraisers than other Oxford sports teams.

“We want to start planning fundraisers, like through bringing back car washes, so that we actually have funding,” Tran said. “ Student captains are communicating with coaches in organizing team merchandise like uniforms and jackets next year.”