A historic year for cross country and winter track at PHS has seen a state title and two sectional championships. However, the Tigers’ job is far from done. Members of the spring track team have obstacles they must overcome they it want to be called champions once again.The PHS team typically scores higher in the winter because spring track and field includes more events in each category: distance, sprints, throwing, and jumping. In order for the team to place well at meets, athletes must place high in each of the categories. Sprinters and throwers have more of a presence during the spring season than the winter season, which creates difficulty for PHS. With larger student bodies, bigger schools can find and enter stronger competitors for the additional events.
The athletes on the track team have been practicing Monday through Friday in their respective events, with the focus shifting more to individual events in the field in order to compete in more categories. Physical training is giving way to more emphasis on the technique used in each athlete’s event.
“I would say 50 percent of your success in the throwing events is determined by the technique you use … we utilize a lot of our time working on actually throwing the implements,” said thrower Paul Brennan ’19.
Furthermore, one of the Tigers’ biggest rivals in fall cross country and winter track, Colts Neck High School, also competes during the spring season, which means that both high schools will be splitting points between their best competitors, allowing a chance for other high schools to win. While Head Coach James Smirk realizes that winning a state sectional title in the spring is difficult, he remains firm and optimistic.
“As a team, we’ve always looked at success at that level as a product of how we’re approaching the training and team development,” Smirk said. “Certainly, I think that we have state level competitive athletes so … that puts us in a good position.”
Part of his optimism stems from the continuing growth of the track team, both in terms of talent and size. While Smirk believes that this is partially due to the increase in participants, he also credits this growth to the team finding the value of working hard and focusing together. This idea of building a stronger team will be prevalent during this season, as the team tries to win the state sectional title.
“You know, you can eat all the pasta you want together, but that doesn’t necessarily build a team. Building teamwork comes from moments that are the toughest … being in that moment of competition and challenging ourselves,” Smirk said.
Yet while the spring track and field team is trying to build camaraderie, many people have the misconception that track and field is not a team sport. It is true that competitors try to individually qualify for larger events, such as the Meet of Champions, but ultimately, their scores are to help the team.
“Everything we do is to work towards the team’s success … that’s what I think a lot of people don’t see. Your goal is always to score as many points for the team,” said distance runner Nick Delaney ’18.
Overall, the central goal of the track and field team during the spring season is to continue improving and to carry regular season momentum into the postseason. Everyone on the team hopes to achieve faster times for distance and sprints, and increase their distances for throwing and jumping in order to win the state sectional title and earn a triple crown, the achievement of winning sectionals in fall cross country, winter track and field, and spring track and field. With the season well underway and the postseason competitions quickly approaching, coaches and competitors are gearing up,ready to make noise at the sectional and state tournaments. Runners are also dialed in to prepare for the Meet of Champions.
“We have a lot of runners who are really good … and some of the seniors are so fast you can almost see the dust,” said distance runner Srishti Khetan ’20.