The track season continues as the RBHS varsity team prepares for the Dale Collier Invitational in Kirkwood. The meet this Saturday is the second to last varsity invitational before the district, sectional and state track meet.
Head coach Neal Blackburn leads all facets of the team. Every day Blackburn gives updates and words of advice to his athletes, hoping to help their confidence and determination.
“Track and field can be extremely challenging based on the workouts the athletes have to execute,” Blackburn said. “Physically, athletes will be pushed to the utmost of their ability level to get the most from them. Mentally, that can take a toll on the person due to the demands placed upon them.”
Underclassmen in both sprints and long distance help the sustained success of the varsity track team. Sophomore Tyra Wilson is already one of the top 25 hurdlers in the country for her age group, running the 60m hurdle event in 8.6 seconds. She hopes the girls’ team will be able to take the state title this year.
Even with consistent success, Wilson looks forward and works hard to continuously improve. This desire for improvement drives her lifestyle and commitment to the team.
“Track helps to develop my hurdle coordination, running skills and overall physical techniques. I train regularly to improve my strength on the track and in the weight room,” Wilson said. “Mentally, it keeps my sanity in check. I find peace in running track and joy in winning.”
Long distance runners will also represent RBHS at the Dale Collier Invitational. Long distance daily activities require multiple types of workouts and runs that calibrate different physical and mental states of the runner. Sophomore Matthew Griffith sees the different runs as beneficial for staying in shape, burning calories and strengthening muscles.
“Long runs benefit the body more aerobically, which is why they are needed once a week. Workouts help more anaerobically to get the body used to running at a faster pace,” Griffith said. “Recovery runs are slower, more relaxed runs that are used in between workouts so that the body can recover from the previous day and be ready for the next.”
Freshman Maci Steuber is also among the pantheon of varsity long distance runners. She appreciates the impact that running long distance has had on her life and the mindset it has given her.
“Long distance has made me the person I am today,” Steuber said. “Yes, every day you can find me running, but there is more to it. The fun thing about distance running is you don’t know how defeating it can be until you’re only halfway through your 3200 [meter race] on the track and realize you have to do everything again. My mental strength moreso than my physical is what I believe has made me the runner I am today.”
As the district, sectional and state meets move closer on the calendar, Blackburn hopes he has created an environment for his team to grow as runners and as people over the course of the season.
“My hope is that each of our student-athletes simply approaches each day with a desire to work hard and make gains,” Blackburn said. “Hopefully the athletes can maintain their training level with few interruptions, and with those qualities in place, the extrinsic rewards may follow.”
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