Track season takes off with first meet of the year

On Saturday, Apr. 8, 39 Spartan Track and Field athletes opened their season with the first meet of the year. The Indoor IMAC 2023 Invite was held at the University of Minnesota Field House and featured a variety of events from the 1600 Meter Run to the Long Jump, and everything in between.
Though the first meet of the year can be a learning experience for beginner-level athletes and a chance to brush the dust off for older runners, it was still an opportunity to showcase the potential, grit and skill that the Spartans have to offer this year.
Captain Becca Richman said, “I really like the energy of track meets. It’s a very exciting place to be, especially at the beginning of the season, when people are still figuring everything out. It’s also fun to watch younger people having their first [track] experiences and really enjoying it.”
The positive and uplifting team culture was evident throughout the day of competition. Spartan runners were consistently rooting for each other in every race and event, no matter the result.
Captain Bridget Keel said, “Since it was a lot of peoples’ first time jumping, it was a difficult situation for a lot of new athletes, but we did a good job of supporting each other and motivating [them].”
The first event was the 60-meter hurdles. Five hurdles stood between the athletes and the finish line, causing many to tense up in unease. Runners practiced getting out of the blocks and clearing the first few hurdles over and over again.
Freshman Elizabeth Tuttle took the victory in the second heat (a heat being a group of athletes with similar times). After having a fast start, the rest of the field only watched from the back as she flew over the hurdles. As the race progressed, she kept her momentum, a key aspect of running hurdles, only lengthening her lead. Tuttle finished with a time of 10.10 seconds, 0.46 seconds ahead of third, which ranked her second overall between both heats.
She has many goals and motivations for her track and athletic career: “I want to bring attention to SPA for their athletics and show others that students can be attending an academically rigorous school while also pursuing athletics, in hopes to collapse the stereotype that one can be strictly smart or athletic, ” Tuttle said.
Overall a versatile athlete, Tuttle also participated in shot put and long jump, where she placed fifth out of 17 and third out of 20 respectively. She earned 17.5 out of SPA’s total of 53 points.

I really like the energy of track meets.

— Becca Richman

Following the 60-meter hurdles were the 60-meter heats, which saw the most participants out of all events, with 139 boys and girls from the six IMAC schools entered. In his first time ever running the 60, sophomore Oliver Thompson won his heat and placed sixth out of 66 boys, with a time of 7.63. However, Thompson’s focus was on the 200 and long jump. Coming in with the third-fastest seed time in the 200, he placed seventh out of 54 with a time of 25.01.
“The tighter curves on the 200 were tough. It was less than ideal,” Thompson said.
Ten months since the last time he jumped, Thompson earned a new personal record of 18 feet, 6 ¾ inches in the long jump.
Planning to focus on the 200, 400, long, and triple jump, he has ambitious goals moving forward: “I want to break 20 feet in the long jump. I was very close in our last meeting. And, I want to run sub-24 in the 200 and 51 in the 400 […] I’m just going to work on my form, strength and technique and just trust my coaches,” he said.
Another top finisher of the day was Keel, who took third place in Girls Triple Jump.
The team looks forward to seeing their growth over the course of the season and strives towards greater success in the future. Junior Annie Hlavka said, “It was the first race of the season. It could have gone better, but it’s only up from here.”
The Spartans finished sixth out of six in the mens events and fifth out of six in womens events. Overall, they finished sixth out of six.
Their next meet will take place on Apr. 13 at the Breck School at 6 p.m.