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Middle school track and field athletes take aim at breaking personal records

Photo credit: Katie Ray McKillop
Jenna Ogoke (’29), Nissara Shah (’28) and Lila Sheehy (’30) run up the backfield during practice. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, coaches hosted practice at Archer, where the team started with a warm up and then moved onto a set of sprints. On a particular practice day, athletes ran a set of eight 200-meter sprints with short breaks in between.

Middle school track and field athletes run up and down the field after lifting weights and running on the treadmill. Once a week, the team hustles down from the training center to the backfield to practice before their next meet.  They had their last meet of the season, the Pacific Basin League Finals, April 26, where they won third place in the 4 by 100-meter relay and in the long jump. This concluded their 2024 season.

The team practiced Monday through Thursday, and on Mondays and Wednesdays, they took the bus to Lincoln Middle School to practice at their indoor track. When they practiced at Archer, sometimes they ran on the streets outside of Brentwood Country Club.

Middle school track and field athletes competed at meets each Friday. During meets, athletes ran both individual events and relays races. They also competed in field events like the long jump and shot put.

The team had their first meet March 8 and won third place in the 400-meter race, 4 by 100-meter relay and 4 by 400-meter relay. Sprinter Sarah Mzoughi (‘28) said meets can be tough because they are very chaotic

“There’s a lot of people so you have to be really focused on what [heat] you’re in,” Mzoughi said. “If you miss your heat, then you’re not going to run.” 

Mzoughi said one way coach Kiara Bostic motivated runners was by conducting challenging practices. She also said Bostic’s difficult practices made the meets seem easier in comparison.

“We literally cannot complain [at meets] because what we’re doing is less than what we do at practice,” Mzoughi said.

Sprinter and long jumper Casey Young (’28) competed in track and field for her second year at Archer. She said Bostic pushed her and her teammates even when they were tired and did not want to keep running.

“She knows that it’s going to be best for us, and it’s going to help us win,” Young said. “So she just tries to push us as much as she can.”

Now that she has run on the team for her second year, Gianna Marliani (’29) said she has people looking up to her. Young also said that she feels the need to be a role model on the team.

“I feel like I need to like be an example for the younger kids to look up to,” Young said.“It’s definitely a motivation to push myself more.”

Marliani said one of the lessons she has learned on the team is patience because not every athlete competes at the same skill level. She said she has also learned that although runner cannot always win their races, they should strive to achieve personal records each time they runs. 

“I’ve learned to have a mindset of going in and just to doing my best because track is all about having a PR,” Marliani said. “You’re racing against the clock and yourself rather than the people around you.”

Assistant coach Liberty Kujawa-Seda said she saw the athletes’ mindset change throughout the season. Some athletes in their first year started the season intimidated by the sport. By the end, she said they were enthusiastic, willing to try new things and determined to work hard. Kujawa-Seda said athletes have developed from a physiological standpoint, too. 

“You can see how their times have been improving and just how much it means to them when they get a new PR,” Kujawa-Seda said. “It’s just really good to see that.”

Kujawa-Seda said the highlight of the season has been getting to see each athlete progress and beat their personal records.

“I’m just really proud of how hard they work, and they keep showing up,” Kujawa-Seda said. “Even if they’re not always excited for the workout, they still push through, so I’m just proud of [them].” 

Young said track and field is a sport where athletes progress over time, trying to become faster is difficult and takes determination. She said in the end, it’s worth it and very rewarding.

“Seeing my progression from when I started track last year, and now this year, it’s blowing my own mind,” Young said. “I never knew that I would be able to do these things.” 

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About the Contributor
Katie Ray McKillop
Katie Ray McKillop, Staff Reporter
Katie Ray McKillop joined The Oracle as a staff reporter in 2023. She is on the surf team and swim team at Archer. In her free time, Katie Ray enjoys painting, baking, reading, and spending time with her friends.

Comments (1)

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    Janet Feldstein McKillopMay 6, 2024 at 6:01 pm

    Terrific article! I’m impressed by these athletes’ determination and the dedication of their coach! Way to go Archer athletes!