They were caught on camera at the Kansas Relays. Southeast sprinter and triple jumper Jamillah Bonner danced — her hand placed behind her head, body leaned to the right and her left leg extended to do its own thing. It was her version of the "Stanky Leg" dance. Teammate Dana Gates egged her on as she rapped a few words and did her own dance.
It took place at the Southeast camp moments before the 400-meter relay team dominated its preliminary. The dance has become a regular routine.
"Dana (Gates) and I have this thing that we call 'Get Loose,' " said Bonner, the team's anchor leg. "So we dance and get loose so we can relax our muscles and not get nervous. We dance quite a bit."
Though it may not be the most traditional of pre-race routines, its something that both girls say can be a factor to race success.
Never miss a local story.
"It helps a lot. I feel like when we don't do it, then that's when we start doing bad. So yeah, we make sure to try and do it every time," Bonner said. "When I'm about to run or jump, I don't like to focus too hard, because that's when I start messing up. I just like to focus and chill."
The team has made the dance into a sort of tradition or ritual. There are plenty of these at the state meet beginning today at Cessna Stadium.
Northwest distance runner Daniel Herbert spends most of his down time at track meets trying to stay out of the sun and prepare mentally.
"At the KU Relays, sometimes you'll see kids with mattresses under the stadium and that's always funny to see," Herbert said. "At the time you're like, 'That looks kind of dumb.' But after you start thinking about it, you get a little jealous of them and wish you could have taken your own mattress."
Lamb said he's seen some interesting things under the tents during his many years of coaching. The most awkward situation involved a bag of frozen vegetables.
"We had a girl one year under the tent in camp eating a bag of frozen peas," Lamb said. "It was hot out, and she's was eating frozen peas. I couldn't understand how that tasted very well, but she liked it."
Northwest's Andrew Etheridge, who set a state-best time of 13.80 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles at the City League track meet, said he doesn't do anything weird when it comes to preparation. He just uses his free time at meets to prepare for events.
"I really just zone away from everybody else," Etheridge said." I put on my headphones, listen to my music, and just go through my warm ups no distractions."
Etheridge said he has to listen to a music play list he named "Hype." It is a compilation of songs that helps him narrow his focus and get in the mood to give it his best. Etheridge's routine may not differ too much from other athletes.
For instance, Bishop Carroll pole vaulter Cara Detmer uses the song "Here Comes the Boom" from the soundtrack of "The Longest Yard" as part of her routine to get her in the mood.
"I listen to my iPod a lot to help get me pumped up," Detmer said. "I don't know, but the song just gets my blood flowing. Then I just do some stretches to get loose and jump."
There is an area that Etheridge makes sure distinguish himself in when it comes to rituals. His hot pink beanie cannot be missed on the infield, and his hot pink calf-length socks are unmistakable on the track.
"It's just something that I like to do. I've been wearing the pink socks since I was a sophomore and its just been a habit every since," Etheridge said." I've had some good races in them. I've had some bad races in them. I guess they just make me feel better."
Etheridge wears the pink socks solely for the purpose of standing out and looking different. There is actually a method to the madness that is the hot pink beanie.
"I like to be really hot and feel sweaty and kind of tired before I race," Etheridge said." So when I take off all of my stuff and I get the cold breeze, I just feel motivated after that. The hat keeps my head warm, so I just have to wear that, too."