“Initially, I was using track just to train for basketball. I wanted to become a better jumper and be more athletic. But it ended up switching over time: My interest in track grew over my interest in basketball.”
Tel originally intended for his experience participating in track to help him in basketball. However, as his success and interest grew for track, this primary goal flipped on its head.
“My first three years of high school, I didn’t do winter track and only did spring track. But soon, I became more engaged with track. Going into my senior year, I really worked hard and dedicated myself to track because I wanted to compete in college. Eventually, I just broke away from basketball.”
Tel is noted for being headstrong and an overall great teammate. “He puts everything he has into the long jump during meets,” said Alex Bell ’17, who also competes in the long jump. “He is always zoned in.”
This past winter Tel, among with others, led the PHS boys winter track team to win Sectionals—PHS’s first ever sectional title. “Winning sectionals was definitely a memorable moment from this season,” Tel said. At the Mercer County Championships on May 10, Tel edged the competition in the long jump with a distance of 21 feet and 3.5 inches and was then crowned the County Champion in long jump.
Although his entrance into the sport was unconventional, his spark for track has continued to grow all thanks to his coaches—especially his jumping coach, Mr. Samara, and teammates, whom Tel dubs the “Jump Squad.”
Tel’s sportsmanship reigns supreme especially amongst his “squad.” “He’s super encouraging. Every time I’m up on the runaway he cheers from the side and reassures me that I’ll do well regardless,” said Serena DiBianco ’16, a fellow long jumper. “Even when he’s sitting out of a meet due to injury, he’s still at all of our meets watching us and, essentially, coaching us.”
Tel’s leadership and charisma is why the underclassmen look up to him. “Theo is a great role model for underclassmen,” Bell said. “He sets a good example to future top track athletes. Watching him jump, you can tell he truly loves it—even though he’s not the biggest fan of the sand.”
Tel has been recruited and will continue his track career at Whitworth University in the fall. Tel is aware he will be continuing his track career at a program that has been competitive year after year in NCAA Division III.
“I’ll be joining a track team that has been extremely successful,” said Tel. “I just want to contribute to their program in any way that I can.”