Shadow Ridge going to Mt. Sac


Shadow Ridge Track Team at State

Chloe Reoyo, Journalist

Track and field is in full swing at Shadow and athletes have been very successful at their meets and invites, getting first for boys and girls at most of them. 9 school records have already been broken. Because of this wonderful team, Shadow Ridge Track and Field is invited to participate at Mt. Sac. It’s a big competition in California, where all the best athletes of the country compete against each other. Head coach Mike Smith is very excited, and already knows what students he would like to send. To be accepted, athletes need to be in the top 8 or 12 best athletes at their event. And if it’s a relay, they need to be a part of the top 16. It’s a hard competition but coach Smith is confident. 

He explains, “I want as many athletes as I can go to represent them and the school. The athletes have to work and earn it though. This competition is no joke.”

Juniors Leah Okuda and Makai Thurgood will be attending this competition. Okuda would be competing the 4x400m, 4x800m and the 800m races and Thurgood the 4×800.

Both have been preparing really hard to accomplish their goals. 

“Preparing for Mt. Sac has been a really long process starting my freshman year when I first ran track. Getting to where I am now took a long time and a lot of hard workouts. I’m going to continue working hard so I can be ready to accomplish all of my goals including Mt. Sac,” tells Okuda. “It wasn’t really until this year that I began focusing on the 800, so this year that is my main focus for improvement.” 

But conditioning takes more than just the daily practices that track athletes have, it requires motivation but also discipline. 

“I get to track practice and do the warmups and workout for that day. After practice, I make sure to stretch and roll out before heading to my next workouts. Then I’ll head to my weights session where I workout for another hour and a half,” explains Thurgood. “Depending on the day we will do lots of squats and deadlifts with other explosive exercises. If we have a meet the next day, I will do lots of neuropriming which is basically just getting my nervous system firing. After weights I will go home and have a protein drink and follow this with stretching and an ice bath to help speed up my recovery. This is all capped off by going to bed before 10:30 to get the most sleep that I can.”

Track and field is a sport that requires a lot of commitment and hard work, athletes compete in many events that involve different skills and ways of running, jumping or throwing. Athletes need to stay motivated even when it gets difficult. 

Okuda comments, “When it gets hard I remind myself why I am running. Running is my best chance of getting a scholarship for college and I’m not sure how else I would pay for it. I also remember how much fun I have with my teammates and coaches.”

Thurgood adds, “Running is definitely not easy. It’s common for runners to joke that our sport is other sport’s punishment. Very few people like running and that’s what makes it so hard. There are a lot of days I don’t feel like waking up early to get a training session in or days I just don’t feel good and don’t want to finish that last rep. Finding motivation can sometimes be even harder. Racing around the track your legs start to get tired, it becomes harder to breathe, and your heart is working super hard. I’ve found that reminding myself of my goals and the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that I’ve put into this sport pushes me to never stop. The most rewarding things in life are almost never easy to achieve.” 

But Smith trusts his athletes, and knows what they and their coaches are capable of. 

Greatness isn’t achieved by just waking up. We need to put the time in to see the results. Greatness not a gift but a lifestyle.

— Makai Thurgood

“I don’t really motivate the athletes. I work on myself and the coaches to properly train the athletes to be prepared for what they need to do. When you are confident that’s all the motivation you should need,” tells Smith. 

But Mt. Sac is only a step to achieve these two amazing athlete’s goals. Both are aiming for very successful careers that they can easily attain due to their intense work and commitment to their sport. 

Okuda explains, “My biggest athletic inspirations are teammates and past teammates that have worked so hard to be successful. I especially look up to former teammate Dennis Speaks because he has the best work ethic and is now a collegiate runner.”

Thurgood comments, “Over the past two years I have been training for track season, Mt. Sac, and the Junior Olympics. This has included rigorous weights sessions to get stronger and lots of speed and endurance training to improve my running abilities. I’ve continued to prepare for Mt. Sac specifically by pushing myself at practice. This means staying a little later to work on running form or handoffs, whatever I need to touch up. I also make sure to take care of myself outside of practices, by making sure to stretch, roll out, take ice baths, get ample sleep and eat healthier as to help my body continue to operate at peak performance” 

People in society tend to inspire themselves with someone who they admire, for athletes it’s even more important.  They pay attention to their values and ethics but also to their athletic performances and their techniques.