Against odds and disadvantages, the track and field team exceeded expectations and dominated in season. The team was notable for breaking school records, qualifying members for CIF and notching third for the girls and first for the boys in CIF.
The team was younger than many competitors, making it more challenging to win meets. Furthermore, the group was relatively inexperienced, and several players had to be taken out earlier in the season due to injuries.
After setting several school records and and fielding an unusually strong girls’ team,track and field Program Head Jonas Koolsbergen said he was pleased with the season.
“We did so much more than anyone would’ve ever anticipated,” Koolsbergen said. “It was just a group that was young and inexperienced, [as well as] inexperienced at the highest level. We weren’t sure that we were ready for those kinds of results, those kind of achievements. The feeling was that we’re really a year, two years away. The best phrase I can use to describe the girls’ program right now is that we’re just tremendously ahead of schedule.”
In addition to a remarkably strong overall performance, the team had numerous standout members who notched impressive season records.
Junior standout Brayden Borquez ’19 qualified for four separate events in CIF, a feat practically unheard of in the sport.
“[Borquez] is super competitive,” team captain London Alexander ’18 said. “He is the warm up warrior. He always has to win in all the drills, he’s always rushing us. He’s super funny. Even though he’s really good, he’s not obnoxious about it. He’s a big jokester.”
Joshua Johnson ’19 is also a standout on the team, breaking the school record for the 100-meter. Track and field Program Head Jonas Koolsbergen mentioned him as a potential leader in the coming year.
Team captain Tiber Seireeni ’18, who took 10th at state last year, is currently top five in the state for pole vault according to Athletic.net, with a 16’2″ personal record.
“[Seireeni] is definitely someone that people look up to because they know how good he is and how hard he works,” team captain Mason Rodriguez ’18 said.
Seireeni said he trained extensively over the summer and practices about three times a week.
“I was addicted to the sport, pretty much,” Seireeni said. “I would spend hours and hours looking at videos, doing drills, seeing what I could do to get the next inch in pole vault.”
Seireeni credited Koolsbergen with encouraging the team and promoting its success in season.
“Coach [Koolsbergen] will do anything it takes that he can do to get us in competitive shape,” Seireeni said. “He’ll do anything. He takes everyone’s problems into consideration. He’s very considerate of everybody and I’d say he really makes sure that people can do what they need to do in order to succeed.”
In addition to helping players in season, Koolsbergen experimented with the way the team trained this year, such as by moving the start of the season earlier.
“[Koolsbergen] wanted us to get a jump start on the season because he knew that we had a really good group of people this year and had a really good shot [at doing] something special, which ultimately we did,” Rodriguez said.
Seireeni said that while the team’s early start was possibly helpful, it also may have contributed to more injuries, such as early outs for strong team members, including team captain London Alexander ’18, Jake Kelly ’20 and James Chung ’19. Many players were taken out toward the beginning of the season and entered after it was too late to race as they missed qualifiers.
“As a team that’s as close as we are, it’s definitely hard to see someone get injured,” Ryan Stanford ’19 said. “I think because we’re so close, there’s a lot of support that goes around the team. That really helps people get through it, I think.”
The team was led by six captains: Seireeni, Rodriguez, Jonah Ring ’18, Alexander , Tierni Kaufman ’19 and Lila Cardillo ’18. Seireeni said that he and Kaufman worked primarily with the jump team, Cardillo and Ring handled distance runners and Alexander and Rodriguez led sprints.
Cardillo said the team’s positive mindset and ability to motivate teammates and keep end goals in sight contributed to their strong season.
“Everyone on the team is willing to be both a teammate and an athlete,” Cardillo said. “It’s such a community and such a common identity. Having to push yourself and work that hard, being able to do that all together and having a sense of family and community in that common goal is important to every member on the team.”
Cardillo said she is enthusiastic about the future of the group.
“I think that it will be a younger feeling team, a less experienced team, but that doesn’t meant that it’s a less capable team,” Cardillo said. “There’s so much talent and passion left even without the seniors.”
Seireeni said he attributes the team’s overwhelming success to their spirit.
“We all hype each other up,” Seireeni said. “I guess that’s the secret, that we all have fun on the track team.”