The track team ventured down to Florida State University from March 25-26 to participate in the 37th annual FSU Relays at the Mike Long Track. It was the first time the Westminster team had participated in the meet in a few years.
“This was the first time the team had been down to the FSU meet since before the seniors were freshmen,” said senior distance runner Clare Draper, “so it was a new experience for us.”
The team participated in many of the track events, but only one field event, the pole vault. The girls team tested out a new event, the 4 x 800 relay, this season, something they had to train for specifically for this meet. The meet had ten heats per event, and they were all very competitive.
The meet itself was a very large event, with teams from all over the southeast coming to participate. Part of the reason for this was that a very difficult competition was the qualification each team had to go through to make it into the Florida State meets. Westminster ended up finishing in 35th place for the boys team and 36th place for the girls. While those places may sound a relatively low, it was actually a very impressive feat considering the large amount of teams that were there and how fierce the competition was.
“This was by far the toughest competition we will ever face during the year,” said junior pole-vaulter Jack Cahillane. “We will not actually compete against any of these teams in state.”
Weather is something that usually is a factor during track and proved to be a significant one this meet. The team had to deal with rain and even thunderstorms during the meet. It was a different experience for many, as normally the meets are suspended during adverse weather conditions. The FSU meet continued through the inclement weather.
“The conditions were awful,” said Cahillane. “We were fighting the thunderstorms all weekend and I personally had to compete in the rain, which does not normally happen during pole vault, simply because of safety concerns. It was tough.”
The meet itself was a big success for almost all of the athletes involved. Nearly every single athlete who participated in the meet set a personal record in at least one event. Several other athletes qualified but did not participate; only a few people who qualified for the meet ended up going down to Florida State to compete for Westminster. The girls 4 x 800, an event they had never run before as it is not regular event of GHSA, won their heat and placed fifth overall, a huge accomplishment. Freshman Will Wallace finished the two-mile event in less than ten minutes, setting an incredible time. The great personal performances can be attributed partly to the great competition but also to the overall positive and determine attitude of the team.
“As a team we knew we were going to run our fastest times ever and race with good people,” said Draper. “We stayed relaxed and expected to perform well, especially because there was such good competition in every event and heat.”
The meet and the fierce competition there made the team more experienced. The competitive yet fun atmosphere really drove everyone to perform to the best of their abilities. There were not a lot of runners going down so the ones who did were prepared to run well.
“It was a great experience for the team, the competition was extremely tough, the weather was brutal,” said Cahillane, “but I believe that it made our team much stronger as a result.”