Track and field prepares to hit ground running


Jenna Liu

Junior Ojurere Shonekan took home a first place medal last year in the long jump and has been a vital part of RBHS’ track team. Shonekan and the team begin their season at the Columbia Kick-Off at Hickman March 18.
With the track and field team’s first meet fewer than two weeks away, athletes are preparing to see what kind of success months of training will bring. At last year’s state competition, RBHS brought back a score of achievements, including a first place finish for junior Ojurere Shonekan in the long jump and fourth place medals for the girls 4×800 meter dash.
For senior Lexi Heim, who briefly held the school record in the pole vault before junior Jordan Banker broke it in May 2015, this season is full of new opportunities.
“My personal goal this season it to get 12’6 in pole vault and to do my best to be a great leader for other pole vaulters,” Heim said. “My team goal would be to cheer and encourage others on in their workouts and events in competition.”
Heim said her current training mostly involves conditioning in order to ensure that she and the other pole vaulters are in peak condition for the rest of the season.
“When we start the season in shape, we have that much longer to spend on improving on our event rather than working on endurance,” Heim said.
Neal Blackburn, the head coach for the Bruins, said most runners on the team are self-motivated to train.
“Right now with preseason we have a very intrinsically motivating preseason; we understand what it’s like for high school kids involved in so many different things. We try to keep the pre-seasons really loose and relaxed,” Blackburn said. “The distance runners do a fantastic job of pairing up and doing their runs together.”
The team’s close-knit bond remains strong because of the efforts of senior leaders such as Quinn Miller, who hopes to use his experience to help the younger runners adjust to the change of pace track brings, in comparison to cross country running.
“My personal goal is just to benefit the team as much as I can and lead the other guys because I think that this will really be a big group effort,” Miller said “Any guys who have transitioned from [cross country] to track, especially because we’re all distance guys, really have a big effect on any of the distance events.”
After coming short of qualifying to sectionals in the one-mile run last year, Miller has set his sights on making it out of the district competition and potentially even running at state. For Blackburn, the team’s strong performance last season proves that the Bruins are a significant contender in their district.
“The team did very well last year, and I felt like we were extremely competitive; our district had a lot of kids make the state meet and it was the first time we were in the really challenging Kansas City district,” Blackburn said. “Our goal is just to field a little more of a complete team and to dominate in a couple of different areas.”