Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 4
Taking it in strideWhile Hancock track members await their new facility, the team steps it up in competition
By KRISTINA SEWELL
While the Bulldog track-—now in it’s 13th season—team awaits the groundbreaking of its new facility, members have had to hold their practices elsewhere this season, making use of the track fields at Righetti, Pioneer Valley, and Santa Maria high schools.
Allan Hancock College head track coach Louie Quintana said that while he’s grateful for the high schools’ generous sharing, he feels that not having a place to practice or act as host to meets is difficult.
Despite such logistical and temporary challenges, however, the track team is stepping up its competition. Quintana, who was previously a track coach at Righetti High School, said numbers for the team are up this year.
“We’re carrying about 35 people—average teams carry 45,” Quintana said. “The kids are improving quite a bit and are doing well.”
Quintana’s 2013 squad is young; there are only two sophomores, and the rest are freshmen. But what they lack in experience, they make up for in talented multi-sport athletes.
“We have a lot of great athletes,” said Kim Ensing, Hancock’s athletic director. “Track is a sport that incorporates and successfully accommodates the multi-athlete.”
Take, for instance, thrower Russell Moran—a freshman competing in the shot put, discus, hammer, and javelin. A latecomer to the world of track, Moran didn’t start throwing until his junior year in high school, but a solid coach and disciplined demeanor turned him into one of Hancock’s top throwers for this season.
At the March 22 meet against Cuesta, Moran placed third in shot and hammer throw, and came in fourth for the discus. According to Hancock athletics, Moran is currently ranked third overall in the shot put and hammer throw. Naturally, the determined athlete has some goals for this season.
“My big goal is to beat the school hammer record of 134 feet, 6 inches,” he said. “I also want to take first in conference for the shot put.”
Moran said it’s taken some time to adjust to the heavier weights of the shot and discus used in collegiate competition, but it looks like the freshman is getting the hang of it.
According to the thrower, the season has been going great for him so far. His toughest competition will be a challenger in the hammer and javelin from Santa Barbara City College; this is the first year Moran is competing in those events.
Moran is one of the track team’s handful of multi-sport athletes. He’s solidly built, so it doesn’t take much to guess that his other sport is football. Playing as an offensive lineman for the Bulldogs, Moran previously played for Nipomo High School.
Soon enough, spring training will begin for his other sport—which will add to his load of school, track, and a job.
“Being a two-sport athlete is fun if you’re good at it,” Moran said with a chuckle.
Holding down the throwing for females is Emma Weinreich, a freshman thrower in hammer, javelin, and shot put. Weinreich, a tough self critic, said she’s been doing well, placing from third to fifth in this year’s meets.
“My goal is to get really good at the hammer and javelin,” she said. “The key will be working hard and sticking with it.”
Employing a combination of technique and strength, Weinreich said the hardest part of throwing for her is working to not overthink everything.
Weinreich said track helps athletes with other sports, which, in her case, is basketball. The thrower will be playing for Bulldog hoops next season.
Quintana said there are some runners bringing new speed to the track team as well—in particular, Joshua Thornton. Another freshman, Thornton is anchoring the 100-meter dash and is currently ranked first overall in conference. According to Hancock athletics, the men’s 4-by-100 meter team is fourth place overall.
At the recent Cuesta meet, Thornton achieved his goal of an 11-second time for the 100 meter—though track isn’t his primary sport.
“I ran track in high school, and I’m doing it now to get in shape for football,” he explained.
Thornton also played football for Hancock as a cornerback this last season, but he loves the competition of going man-on-man for track.
“The biggest thing for me is staying focused on the task and running my race,” he said.
The runner said Coach Quintana has helped him improve his speed just by correcting his form; this correction will undoubtedly help Thornton as he joins teammate Moran for spring football training.
While Quintana said the team has room to improve, this year’s group is stronger in every event; he noted that Javier Marcial and the distance team are also working hard and doing well.
Improvement is key; Thornton said the team has gotten better from day one—times are shorter and the throws are getting farther.
The track team at Hancock has been cranking out more athletes who have been going on to play at the university level, Quintana said; they have former track athletes at Humboldt, Concordia, San Diego State, and Long Beach.
And while Quintana is pleased with the local talent, he’s looking forward to the new track because it will also help with recruiting more talent. In the meantime, the seasoned coach expects his athletes to give him 110 percent.
“I hope we can finish this season strong and send as many as we can to the state meet,” he said.
Moran is feeling positive about the team and thinks the team has a shot if they keep working hard; teammate Thornton echoed those thoughts.
“As long as we stay together as a team, we will succeed,” Thornton said. “We will be as good as we allow ourselves to be.”
Staff writer Kristina Sewell is quicker than she looks. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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