The topic of perfection can be a polarizing subject for track and field athletes and their coaches.
As regional meets begin today, coaches immediately lose interest in unbeaten streaks and fixate on securing any of the four berths in the event to the state meet next week at Cessna Stadium.
Hillsboro freshman Emily Sechrist, who won 3A cross country last fall, has won all seven of her 3200-meter races this season. But good luck getting Hillsboro coach Dennis Boldt to recognize the streak.
“It’s something that we’re not going to talk about,” Boldt said. “It’s obvious, so we don’t focus on it. As soon as you start focusing on something like that, nothing good can happen.”
Entering this week there were four other girls with sizable perfect seasons still intact: Andover’s Jaylyn Agnew in the high jump, Sedgwick’s Jaime Lovett in the long jump, Garden Plain’s Sierra Hays in the triple jump and McPherson’s Kaley Kinnamon in the 200.
To the athletes, an unblemished record is a badge of honor. They understand where their coaches are coming from, but as competitors, every one of them is actively pursuing a perfect season.
“Any time there’s a chance to go undefeated, I’m definitely going to want to do it,” Kinnamon said. “I think it gives you more confidence than anything. Just knowing I have won in the past, it gives me the confidence that I’ll be fine at these bigger meets.”
Coaches seem to change their tune once the subject turns from an individual to a relay team. They aren’t keen on applying any added pressure to one person, but when it becomes a group, coaches use the streak as a tool for motivation.
The only unbeaten boys relay teams in the area with at least five wins are the Southeast 400 relay team, the Campus 1600 relay team and the Hutchinson Trinity 3200 relay team.
For Campus coach Dustin Stupka, his team of Mark Davis, Cody Nicks, John Paschal and Austin Vaden is a source of pride for the team.
“I base the whole track team around the 400,” Stupka said. “Those four kids love running that race. They love running at the very end. They’re just tough-minded kids and they love the 400. I think they’re running with a lot of confidence right now.”
Got it from YouTube — This season, South junior Davontae Harris has added more than a foot to his long jumps, entering this week with a personal-best mark of 21 feet, 4½ inches.
Harris credits his improvement to his off-season regimen, which he created from what he saw on the Internet.
“I took basketball off this season and I worked hard and got in the weight room and I knew what I wanted,” Harris said. “But the thing that has made me better this year is coming off and finishing strong. I got on YouTube and watched a bunch of videos and learned how to extend my legs to get a further reach.”
Harris will attempt to qualify for state in the 100, 200, 400 relay and long jump today at the Maize regional.
“If there’s any person capable of doing it, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s Davontae,” South coach Cody Dickman said. “Pulling that off on the track is pretty tough because you have to run the prelims in the 100 and 200 and do the long jump at the same time. He can do it, and I hope he does.”