Track and field races to the finish line

The Palo Alto High School track and field teams are looking to win their upcoming meet at 3:15 p.m. today at Milpitas High School and prepare for post-season meets after a challenging season performance.

The Paly boys (1-4) are currently in sixth place in the De Anza League after their only win against Los Altos High School (3-2), while the girls’ team (3-2) holds a fourth place position. The Milpitas boys’ team (0-5) is in seventh, and the girls (1-4) are in fifth.

Sophomore sprinter Eli Givens believes the team will build off of the momentum gained from its recent win against Los Altos.

“We all did a good job of making our way up to where we are now,” Givens said. “We’re all going to do pretty well because it’s the last meet, so we’re all going to have that feeling that we need to give it our all.”

According to sophomore mid-distance runner Portia Barrientos, the girls’ team plans on changing up its lineup to give athletes the opportunity to try out new events.

“Milpitas as a team is not as strong as the other teams that we’ve had meets against, so at this meet, we’re having people try different events to see if we can get different results,” Barrientos said.

This year, the track team has also overcome a variety of issues, such as the introduction of new coaches, the prevalence of injuries and the loss of senior runners. Boys’ head coach Kelsey Feeley reflected on the regular season regarding the team’s recovery.

“For the most part, everyone’s healthy now,” Feeley said. “That was definitely a big issue at the beginning of the season – people coming off of injuries or getting injured.”

Barrientos noted that injuries have hindered the girls’ season.

“On the girls’ side, a lot of injuries have gotten in the way of our runners’ performances,” Barrientos said. “It’s really hard to come back from injuries.”

Despite the loss of seniors, the team has had to count on the younger runners this year, according to Feeley.

“Mostly on the boys’ side, it was a big rebuilding year,” Feeley said. “We lost a lot of talented boys to graduation last year – more or less our jumping and sprinting crew – but we’ve had some kids really step up when they needed to, fill in spots and rise to the occasion.”

A lack of throwers has also contributed to a difficult season, according to senior captain Nick Sullivan.

However, Feeley is confident about the team’s trajectory concerning post-season meets, including leagues, Santa Clara Valley Athletic League and Central Coast Section events.

“I feel great going into leagues,” Feeley said. “Both of our relays are pretty solid right now, especially our 4×400 [relay], and we even have a few alternates for those races.”

Feeley believes that the following meets will give runners the opportunity to shine after a season of hard work.

“Individually, we have a lot of kids who are peaking at the right time,” Feeley said. “For the older kids, it’s a time for them to show what they’ve been working at all season and will be a good practice for upcoming meets after leagues, such as SCVAL and CCS, and even States for some kids.”