Track & Field

Finn Carnahan, Reporter

On March 19, the West High Track & Field team had its first practice of the 2018 season. There was still snow on the ground outside, and temperatures failed to pass 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The athletes are bussed to the Dome, an indoor sporting and athletics facility in Anchorage, on alternating days of the week. “It makes it easier to focus on our drills and strength training [by giving] us a place where we can concentrate on that instead of the weather,” Eli McKenzie, a junior, says of the method. But, he says, the team makes the most of any practice they can get, even if it means embracing Alaska’s notoriously unpredictable climate. “It’s definitely a challenge to deal with the winter weather while trying to do our best,” says McKenzie, who competes in both the 4×4 relay and the 1600-meter run. “I like the days when we go to the Dome.”

The Track & Field team is composed of a wide variety of student athletes, many of whom are returning for their second, third or even fourth season of the sport they enjoy so much. Some join for the competition and team spirit, while others are simply looking for structure in order to stay physically fit. Ethan Davis, a junior at West, is in it to win it. “I’m in here for the competition,” says Davis. “I just like beating people and it always feels better like your work is finally paying off.” Clarice Ruhlin-Hicks, on the other hand, is less concerned about the results. “I mostly do it to get in shape, and because I like seeing my friends,” she says, adding that “I kind of only look at my times to see if I’m improving not to check what place I got.” “The feeling of community is nice, though,” Ruhlin-Hicks adds. “Everyone sort of knows [each other] and helps each other [during training].”

Popular events include the individual sprint races (100, 200, and 400 meters) as well as the more well known field events, such as the discus and the high and long jumps. “People like seeing kids jump,” says Davis, laughing. “[Those events are] okay, but I like running because it’s more fun [for me] personally.” Clarice Ruhlin-Hicks adds that many people don’t understand- or simply underestimate- the difficulty of a good high jump. “People in the bleachers look at the people jumping and they think ‘oh, it’s not that difficult to get over a bar’ [but] once [someone has] tried it, they have more respect for people who are good at it, I think.”

The Track & Field season runs until the end of school, with the state competition extending a week past the students’ final academic day. Participation in this diverse and varied activity is highly encouraged for students of all athletic abilities, and interested athletes may join by using an activities form, available in the front office at the activities window.