Track team prepares for districts; date conflicts with prom

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Best Around: Junior Matt Bush pole vaults at the Rock Bridge Invitational Meet Saturday. Bush cleared 14 feet that day, securing both a personal best and a spot at the district meet. Photo by Asa Lory
Living up to last year’s     victory of earning a district title can be a challenge, but senior Daniel Brennan is excited for the opportunity the RBHS  track and field team has to do just that.
The pressure of trying to repeat a district championship could bring an added sense of anxiety. Brennan however, manages to keep a calm and collected mindset heading into the competition.
“I don’t feel too much pressure to repeat,” Brennan said.  “I’m extremely confident headed into districts this year. The coaches have really helped me keep cool.”
The coaching staff plays a huge role in not only training the athletes in proper technique and form, but also motivating them to do their  personal best and not worry about what they cannot control.
“The coaches push us to do our absolute max no matter what,” junior Robert Benad, an alternate at districts last year who will compete this year, said. “So at the end of the day, if we know that we have given it our all, which we all do, we will be happy with ourselves and the coaches will be proud of us.”
Both the boys and girls track and field teams will contend for a district championship title on Saturday, May 12, in Jefferson City. The teams will  be competing against several of the best athletes from neighboring schools all around the district. These schools  include rivals Hickman, Jefferson City, Rolla and Washington.
The Bruin track team will be represented at the district competition by a large fanbase, as two members from the boys and girls track team will battle in each personal event, while four members will face-off in each relay.
“All the teams we face in districts have strong rosters and provide major competition, especially Jeff City,”  Benad said. “They have a super deep roster and are always a huge challenge.”
But the team is confident  in both of their sections and feels both teams have a shot at winning the title.
“Our boys team has been dominant all season,” junior M.C. Burns, who has run for the RBHS girls track and field team the past two seasons, said. “The girls have been doing good as well and this is the year that they could definitely show the district their talent and hard work.”
The road to districts has not been an easy one.  Individuals and the team as a whole have faced many obstacles throughout the season, although none greater than physical injury.
Brennan, who pulled his left hamstring at the first meet of the season, has been forced to deal with his injury all season and find a way to overcome it.
“Trying to make a comeback has been pretty tough,” Brennan said.
As tough as it has been to deal with the injury, Brennan is motivated.
“It’s made me eager to perform and given me more energy moving forward,”  Brennan said.
The team faces another potential roadblock on their way to the district competition. Unfortunately for many, the  senior prom is scheduled for the same day.
Athletes may encounter a tough decision on whether to go for the glory of a second district championship, or attending a one-time event that many high school students look forward to for their entire high school career.
However, the athletes have decided not to let their team down.
“Having prom and districts on the same day does present a dilemma,” Benad said, “but I definitely plan on going to districts because there’s no way I would let my team down, and going to districts is a pretty big deal.”
Brennan sees districts as an opportunity to achieve a long time dream and will not let a scheduling conflict distract him.
“I know that districts is just as important as prom,” Brennan said. “Looking back when I’m older I don’t want to have any ‘what-ifs,’ and being an all-state athlete has been a dream of mine since eighth grade, so I really don’t want to mess this up.”
However, when it comes down to it, the excitement of taking home another championship will trump any feelings of anxiety over another event.
“Leading up to it I might worry a little bit about the conflict with prom,” Benad said, “but when you step on that starting line and the adrenaline gets going, all I’ll be worried about is winning the race.”
By Sam Mitchell