Track and field competes in Jim Polite invitational

Varsity and junior varsity track and field competed in the annual home Jim Polite Invitational Saturday, March 9.

The invitational was created by head track and field coach Keith Thompson in 2011 to honor distance coach Jim Polite for his 50 years of service to the sport. With 13 schools and alumni in attendance, the Jim Polite Invitational is one of the largest meets in the league.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with Coach Polite for 12 years, and I feel that he deserves recognition for what he’s done in the sport and for working with kids for the last 50 years. My hope was that as kids graduate, they would come back and volunteer in this meet,” Thompson said. “Every year, it’s just a way for me to say thank you to him for everything he has done.”

Saturday’s invitational began with senior Chloe Arriaga and freshman Abbie Laurel taking first place with times of 11:13.56 and 12:21.90 in the girls varsity and frosh 3200m race, respectively. In the varsity boys 200m, senior Jared Arellano finished first at 22.88.

“I could have done better because in the middle of the race, I drifted from the group that I was pacing myself [with]. At first, I wasn’t prepared mentally and knowing that there was a huge gap [between the runners] made me lose my focus, but I was still able to remind myself that it’s just like practice,” distance senior Naomi Nakamura said. “I told myself to just focus on what my coach wanted me to do.”

In the varsity boys 4x400m relay, Walnut placed first with an overall time of 3:41.62, winning against three other high schools. In addition, Walnut won the varsity boys 4x800m relay with a time of 8:31.

“I was nervous because I was playing varsity for the first time in a race. In order to prepare, I got advice from my other varsity teammates who have more experience,” 4x400m sprints runner sophomore Donovan Wallace said. “In the beginning of the race, when I got on my [lane], I was all nervous, but when I came off the block I felt relieved. A lot of my teammates were cheering, so when I heard them, it motivated me.”

In the pole vault event, frosh sophomore Ricky Trujillo jumped 11-03.00, winning first, and varsity senior Justin Lo placed fourth with a mark of 11-00.00. In the varsity girls pole vault, senior Akira Romyanond, junior Crystal Thai and sophomore Julianna Chang placed first, second and third, respectively.

“I felt accomplished [when I got my mark] because that was what I was aiming for,” Trujillo said. “It was exciting because everyone was clapping, and it hyped me up to jump. When I’m on my lane and everyone starts cheering me on, it makes me run faster, jump higher and do everything perfectly.”

By Raymond Dunn, Opinion editor                                                                                                                                                                  Photo by Ian Lee