No Ceiling for the track team: Rams ride into season with high expectations
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In an era where so much emphasis is placed on winning, Fresno City College track coach Jesus Reyes dares to say winning is only a byproduct.
“We just want to go out, have fun and work hard,” says Reyes.
Even as he prepares his team for the upcoming track and field season, Reyes has more than winning on his mind. In fact, one of his main goals coming into the season is to increase the number of female athletes.
“I would love for women to take more interest in sports after high school,” said Reyes. “The majority of the girls we try to get to come out are looking to move on to the next stage of their life. Female athletics is a huge part of not only what we’re doing, but what everyone is doing.”
Sophomore Raquel Rochon is one woman who is eagerly anticipating the beginning of the new season.
Last season, Rochon set a personal record of 1:00.84 in the 400 meter at Delta Mustang Invitational, and placed second.
“We can make it to state this year. We have a pretty good team,” said Raquel. “There are a lot of new girls coming out. We have a lot of speed, we’re focused and mentally prepared.” She spent the offseason working on details such as lifting her leg more as she runs in order to cover more ground.
Jenny Saklar is also a sophomore who already sees the potential in her team. “There are a lot of new runners as well as veterans so there is a good balance between people with a lot of experience and people that are coming in fresh,” said Saklar. Although the team has lost a few all-stars from last year, Saklar says the team has more depth than previous years.
“We have more talent than last year. I’m excited to see it play out,” said Saklar.
Coming into this season, Saklar is challenging herself to try more events.
“I’m trying to bump my endurance and speed to go to the 800 meters. I will also try the 400 and the 1500 middle range burn,” said Saklar.
Regarding her team, Saklar has already noted improvements. “This year I see a bit more focus. We do more team stretching and more warm ups. It’s gets going to help us as the season progresses,” said Saklar.
Still Saklar is looking for even more progress. “We will be pushing even more, giving it our all every practice, using every interval in practice and taking care of ourselves off the track,” said Saklar.
On the men’s side, freshmen Ian Dildine is looking to make an impression as a jumper and sprinter. Dildine is convinced that the Rams can win state.
“We’re basically a family and we’re talented in as many ways as we can be,” said Dildine. “We always encourage each other. When the jumpers are doing their workouts, the sprinters are always encouraging them and vice versa.”
Another freshmen, Lee Daniels, will be taking part in the 110 meter hurdles and 400 meter hurdles. Daniels is looking to making an adjustment as he comes from Roosevelt High School, where the track team wasn’t nearly as big.
“The sprinting team alone is bigger than my team at Roosevelt,” said Daniels.
Nevertheless, Daniels is impressed by what he has seen from his team so far.
“Everyone gets tired, but it’s about not showing it,” said Daniels. “We’ve been working hard in the weight room. We come to the track early and even on our days off, we come to the track. The main goal is always to come together.”
Reyes says it’s possible to see a repeat of last season in which the Rams exceeded all expectations. “Last year’s expectations of people around us were not high but we continued to grind and we continued to get better. We don’t put a ceiling on ourselves,” said Reyes.
And after what he has seen from his team so far, Reyes is ecstatic. “I’m very satisfied with how we have bonded,” he said. “We have embraced it. We are naturally falling into that.”