PREP TRACK AND FIELD: Miners focused on process, results will follow
Special to The Union
Track and field is defined in black and white terms.
The circumstances, processes and rigors that produce a result are entirely secondary to the cold hard numbers left at the end of a competition. Whereas in many sports there are other factors and statistics to mitigate losses and explain victories, the statistics are the results in track and field. There are no moral victories to be found at the end of a race and little solace to be taken from a botched jump or throw. Track exists in absolutes, and it does so brutally.
Kevin Selby, the new head coach of Nevada Union’s track and field team, is as aware of the hard and fast nature of the sport as anyone. And as he begins to guide the Miners back to prominence it will be the results that he and his team are judged on. Yet, Selby sees the importance in the journey, both individually and as a team, toward those results.
Individual success, Selby hopes, will lead to overall team success for the Miners this season.
“My hopes for results are that individually the team members accomplish what they want. If individually they accomplish what they want that’s gonna help us as a team,” said Selby, but is quick to add that the team is not focusing on specific marks just yet. “At this point, we have to just make sure that everyone is training hard on a consistent basis.”
As each athlete works toward their own individual goals, Selby is working to instill a strong sense of togetherness and chemistry across the entire squad. Every member of the team wrote down a goal early in the season on how they would make their team better.
“I want them thinking about how they’re going to support their teammates,” said Selby, adding that how that support manifests varies from athlete to athlete but adds up to the same thing: a culture that can sustain success for years to come.
Building a perennial winner in any sport is a years-long process, and this is particularly true in track and field. A track and field team requires not only the culture and hard work that Selby is working to build at NU, but also necessitates several standout individuals in order to achieve team success in any season or over a stretch of years.
Fortunately for Selby and Nevada Union, the Miners have the makings for that winning formula already in hand. Garrett Gough, a senior distance runner, has established himself as a singular talent over the course of his high school career. In the fall, Gough had one of the greatest cross country seasons of any NU runner in history, winning at the Stanford Invitational, setting the course record at the Miner’s home course and placing fourth overall at the California State Meet. However, entering his final track season, Gough has yet to replicate the same level of dominance on the track that he has in cross country. Illness, injury and bad luck are always part and parcel of the track experience, but for Selby’s part, he isn’t worried about Gough achieving his best this year.
“Garrett does not need outside motivation. His intrinsic motivation is stellar,” said Selby, adding, “The key is for him to finish strong, he’s had a couple seasons where the ending wasn’t what he wanted.”
What finishing strong means is up to interpretation, and likely up to Gough himself, but after a 9 minute, 17.27 second, 3,200-meter earlier this year and a 4:16.35 1,600m at the Stanford Invitational last weekend, it appears that Gough is more than up to the task of fulfilling his potential.
Having an individual talent like Gough on your team is an invaluable resource, but Selby understands that for the Miners to win as a team this season and beyond he’ll need leaders in all of the disciplines of the sport, from distance and sprints to jumps and throws.
One such leader is Jai Williams, a senior high jumper coming off of a major knee injury. Much like his fellow senior Gough, Selby said Williams is incredibly motivated and is a model of the kind of hard work and attitude that he is looking for on his team.
Tolan Rios has already established himself as a rising star for the Miners, the sophomore thrower has shown great promise in competition and has set the tone in practice according to his coach.
Coach Selby is eager to point to Mackenzie Morgan and Sephora Wontor, two sophomore distance runners, as future stand outs for the Miners, and reason for considerable optimism in seasons to come.
“Those two girls max out their physical abilities on a regular basis, and that sets the tone for how things are on our team,” said Selby.
When asked about his expectations for the end of the season, Selby is unequivocal, “At the end of the season the kids should walk away with satisfaction. They should walk away feeling like they contributed to a greater cause, and that they reaped rewards from their efforts.”
Track and field is judged on results, and it will be no different for Selby and the Miners this season. For this year, the Miners still have plenty of opportunity to set those all important results. Yet, what happens in between those results may prove to be even more impactful for the seasons to come.
Kael Newton is a Nevada County native and freelance journalist. He can be reached at email@example.com or @KaelNewton on Twitter.
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