With season winding down, track shifts focus to districts


Cami Kudrna

As the track and field team approaches postseason, they continue practicing every afternoon. Although the junior varsity team ended its season May 5, the varsity runners that qualified for postseason meets focus more than ever on improving their events and striving for the best they can do.
Head coach Neal Blackburn kept high hopes for the team. He believed there would be a large turnout of athletes from RBHS who would qualify for postseason meets. They got moved from Class 4 District 5 to Class 5 District 6. The high schools within District 6 include Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Hickman, Jefferson City, Lee’s Summit, Lee’s Summit North, RBHS and Smith-Cotton.
Being put in a new district this season, the athletes and coaches try to make a good impression on their new competitors. Postseason meets start on May 16.
“I think coaches of different sports and even around the state of Missouri in the sport of track and field always say ‘Our district is really tough’,” Blackburn said. “[RBHS] is really in a stacked district.”
Several underclassmen made the varsity roster this season. Specifically, Caroline Stevens, freshman jumper and sprinter, placed first in the girls triple jump at the Kearney Invitational at Kearney High School with a far jump of 33’6.5”. She also competes in long jump, 300m hurdles, the 100m dash and the 200m dash.
“[The season] has gone really well,” Stevens said. “Compared to middle school, I’ve really gained a lot of experience and improved a lot, so it’s gone pretty well. I believe I could do well in the postseason.”
Junior middle distance runner Grant Sykuta believes the season has been successful for the Bruins. Although he says they had a slow start, he believes that they whipped themselves back into shape and are performing well.
“The position we are in right now makes us very hopeful for what we can accomplish in the future,” Sykuta said. “The season is just a process of putting building blocks together and [looking] towards the future and how to improve as individuals as well as a team.”
Sykuta feels success for the team requires both effort from the individual themselves, but also support from their teammates and coaches. He and his teammates both saw success in the past postseason, and they hope to perform strong in this year’s postseason as well.
“We all believe in each other and drive to make each other better so we can do well in the postseason,” Sykuta said. “As long as we have this trust and confidence in each other and in ourselves, anything is possible.”
To qualify for different rounds in postseason meets, an athlete either needs to get a certain time, distance or height, or they need to rank within a specified place for their event, depending on the meet. Although certain athletes qualified for the varsity squad, this does not necessarily guarantee a spot in postseason meets.
“We’re going to have people that have outstanding performances that aren’t going to make it to the next round,” Blackburn said. “We’ll [also] have people that for sure will [make it to the next round]. The kids that do advance from the district meet will probably go all the way to the state meet.”
By: Cami Kudrna

Photo By: Cassi Viox