Track and field preview: Life after E.J.
by Becca Raffel and Jared Schwartz
Published February 24, 2013
Palo Alto High School 2013 track and field practices are underway, with official competitions beginning in early March.
Last season, the boys’ track team won its first ever Central Coast Section title in Paly history. Head coach Jason Fung is hoping for a triumphant return to the competition this season.
“We won the CCS last year, and it’s always nice to repeat and not make it seem like it was a fluke,” Fung said. “It’s always nice to be on top, [and to] win league of course. We just want to be able to fill all the events and have people in all the events. The more depth you have, the better off you are.”
The success of the boy’s team was greatly helped by then-junior E.J. Floreal, who moved to Kentucky for his senior year. Last year he placed third in the 200-meter dash in the 2012 California State Final race with a time of 21.38 seconds, placing fourth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.70 seconds as well.
Floreal was also a member of the 4×100 relay team that placed seventh in the state meet. The only remaining member of that team is senior Jayshawn Gates-Mouton, who acknowledges that the loss of Floreal will be costly.
“Losing E.J. was definitely a big loss for us because he helped out tremendously,” Mouton said. “But he’s gone now and sometimes things like that just happen.”
Mouton looks forward to seeing other members of the team step up in Floreal’s place.
“I’ll be looking forward to watching [senior] Michael Johnson run in the hurdles this season,” Mouton said. “He has been so committed by working out after the season privately to become stronger, faster and more flexible, which takes a lot if work. I’m sure he’ll stand out and help us get to CCS this season.”
Mouton hopes that this season he will improve personally and also experience similar success as last year.
“My goals and expectations [for] this year’s track season is to break my personal 100m record and to help lead our 4×100 team back to CCS and hopefully states,” Mouton said.
As for the girls’ team, Fung is focused on bringing it back to the top of the league.
“As far as girls, it [the goal] is trying to get them back on top of the league standings,” Fung said. “We’ve been in a slump the last couple of years. With the girls we have hopefully our relay teams will be strong again… the experienced girls have to step up. We have a small senior group of girls, which never helps with experience. Hopefully they can turn it around and get a chance at leagues again.”
Female long distance co-captain Audrey DeBruine hopes that long distance runners will contribute more this season than last spring.
“All we can do is try to get better every week and try our best in practice,” DeBruine said. “I’d love to have distance contributing more in our meets… in the past years we haven’t contributed as many points as we could and I would love for us to be able to really help the team effort out more and get some more recognition.”
The first meet will be held at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, at Saratoga High School.