IHSA Sectional at Naperville North, 5.14.15

Post date: Jun 17, 2015 10:28:19 PM

In the last race of what would be her last meet of the season, she took the baton in last place. She was 40 meters behind the seventh-place runner in the 4x400m relay. It was raining. It was cool.

There was no state-qualifying time to chase. With the sixth-place runner another 40 meters in front of the seventh-place runner, there were realistically no points to chase, and Minooka wasn’t in the hunt for a top team finish anyway.

And yet …

One of the things I love about track and field is how easy it is to see improvement. We time and measure everything, so at the end of each meet, we simply look at the numbers and know if we improved.

We spend a lot of time talking about those numbers, posting them, tweeting them, hyping them up. Numbers are good, and some of the ones attached to Minooka on Thursday night at the Naperville North IHSA Sectional resulted in well-deserving athletes qualifying for state.

The Indians had four girls qualify in five events for the state meet. Three happened by placing in the top two (400m dash – 1st; 800m run – 2nd; 1600m run – 2nd) and the other two relied on time (3200m run – 4th and 200m dash – 3rd).

Of those five times, only two (800m, 1600m) were the best run by an Indian in that event this season. The 1600m was also a school record. The other three times were good, but not the best of the season. This is not to take anything away from those performances; they were great performances. But we can’t always get hung up on time. It doesn’t tell the whole story.

It doesn’t tell you the weather or facility conditions. It doesn’t tell you about how many races an athlete has already run or if they have just come back from an injury. And it certainly doesn’t tell you how hard a person competed.

Rarely in track or in life are conditions perfect. We just have to adapt. The real lesson here is:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Just compete. Don’t worry about the time. Track meets can get messy. Life can get messy. Just compete. That’s what we want our athletes taking with them after their last race.

Our anchor in the 4x400 wasn’t the only who just went out and competed for competition’s sake. We saw it in nearly every event for Minooka. But it was the 4x400 that gave me the lasting impression.

With 200 meters left, she was still in last, but she had gained about 20 meters on that seventh-place runner. As she came down the homestretch, if you peered around the umbrellas lining the infield, you could see the strain on her face. There was determination. There was weariness. And after she crossed the finish line, there was a smile.

If you really wanted to hype up a measurement up about that race, the race that essentially meant nothing in the official results, it was this: 0.38 seconds.

That’s how much she beat that seventh-place runner by.

Go Indians.

– Coach Thomas