story by Anna Maria Gardiner, Carina Leaman and Josh Imholte
The Dutch Fork Varsity Track team showed their Olympic qualities on Thursday April 30th as they swept away the competition at their region meet.
With 15 members of the girl’s team and ten members of the boy’s team advancing to the state qualifiers, the team is ready to take on the best runners, hurdlers and discus throwers South Carolina has to offer.
“I feel like overall we did pretty well. We had a about six or seven people win region champions, and I think the coaches were really proud of us,” sophomore 100 and 400 meter hurdler Heather Pittman said.
Dutch Fork had success at last week’s region meet. Sophomore Austin Connor won all-region honors in the 200 meter dash with his score of 21.76 seconds, setting a new school record. Senior Mark Bradley won all-region honors in both the 800 meter run with a time of two minutes and 7.31 seconds and the 400 meter dash with a time of 51.13 seconds.
But one success doesn’t mean the team can rest; preparation continues for the next meet, and that doesn’t just mean working leg muscles.
“To physically prepare for state qualifier, the team is just doing the workouts that coach gives us and working to make sure our bodies are well rested for the race on Saturday,” senior runner Mark Bradley said. “Mentally, I am just trying not to let the importance of the race get in my head because having the race with some of the best runners on the state can be nerve racking.”
Track is an individual sport. While the athletes are on a team, the scores are calculated individually and then pooled together at the end of the meet to reflect the school’s success. While the school’s name does receive a ranking, the runners who represent the school do as well. And in the case of Dutch Fork, if the school were to be ranked, it would be ranked near the top.
“[The team] is scored on how different people place. If someone wins first place, then the team gains ten points and if anyone places less than fourth, we lose points. So the goal was to place fourth or above,” Heather said.
Success doesn’t just start on the track.
“One thing a lot of people don’t know about running is that for most runners their routine actually starts maybe a day or two before the actual race so they can be fully mentally and physically ready to do our best,” Mark said.
With a successful season, the team looks forward to what the state competition might hold.
“I think our team’s chances to get a lot of runners to the state meet are very high this year just because of our team’s dedication level which has steadily been on the rise for the past few years,” Marks said, “and I think is at an all time high of what I’ve seen being a part of the team.”