Sorry, I’ve Got To Run

Varsity Track Team Competes at the 5A UIL State Championship


Photo Courtesy of Lori Mclaughlin

Smiling for the camera, the varsity boys and girls 4×4 relay teams take a picture as they both win first place in the 4×4 at the district championship. As a whole, the boys team ended up in second place in district and the girls team ended the season as district champions. “It is just nice to have those teammates that are always there for you and always pick you up because they understand what you’re going through,” junior Avery Allmer said. “I love having teammates and coaches that always support you and genuinely want the best for you.”

Penny Moreno, Reporter

The runners stand in their positions, waiting for the starter pistol to signal that the relay has begun. As the first leg of the race takes off, she works to get a lead and keep a consistent time. As she hands the baton to the second leg, the next girl sprints off, putting in as much effort as possible to get her team ahead. The third leg now passes the baton with the sole mission to give the baton to the anchor as fast as possible. The anchor runs and crosses the finish line with an exhausted smile, running straight to her teammates.

The varsity track team competed at the 5A UIL State Track Championship and placed ninth, taking a team of four girls who ran in the 4×4: senior Amani Graham, junior Avery Allmer, sophomore Alex Dauria, and freshman Addison Simon. Graham also competed in the 300 meter hurdles, where she placed third, and finished fourth in the 100 meter hurdles event. Junior Jaxon Plunkett placed ninth in his 300 meter hurdle race as well. 

“The [physical] training part of competing for state was already done; that’s how I got to state in the first place,” Plunkett said. “The mental part came next. Going up against people all across Texas that are better than you and have better times [made] the preparation [for state] moremental and less physical. At state, I was nervous. Even though I was nervous, I was still so excited that I even got to be there in the first place. I got ninth in the whole state and I am top 50 in the country right now, which I am very proud about, and I am hoping to be on the podium next year.”

The team this year has continuously improved at the meet each week, hungry to beat their past records, according to Allmer. At state, the 4×4 team ran a four-minute 4×4, but their fastest time, which broke the school record at the regional track meet, was 3:57.56. Graham set a new school record in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 43.31. Lastly, Plunkett at state ran a time of 38.77, but has had previously a personal record of 38.75, which is a U.S. top 50 time.

“My favorite moment from the season has to be when we qualified for state in the 4×4,” Allmer said. “We were talking about it for the whole season that our goal was to get to state and so after we ran prelims, we talked about how hard we had to go for finals. So when Amani, our anchor leg, ran across the finish line, we were all so excited and we just hugged each other.  It was such a happy moment because everything we had worked for this whole season finally came true.”

Led by head coach Hunter Russell and assistant coach Lori Mclaughlin, practices ran Monday through Friday in the morning and afternoon. This season was Russell’s first year at Cedar Park, where he stepped in as the new cross country and track coach. According to Allmer, practices vary each week depending on important meets or specific running training, and before each week the coaches decide what workouts will benefit the team the most.

“For a typical practice we come at 6:30 a.m. ready to run,” Simon said. “Some of the workouts we do consist of a certain number of sets of 300, 400, 200 or 100 meter runs and we do them together as a team. The athletes who are in field events usually practice after school. Everyone always pushes each other to do their best and work hard as a team.”

According to Allmer, the reason for the success of the track team was the bond that they had with one another. The athletic abilities they had, which they worked on in practice,eventually got them to the state meet, but they also worked to improve on building connections in the team.

“There were so many days, before state, that I was convincing myself that I could not do [it],” Allmer said. “I kept telling myself that [it] was going to be a hard day but it is just nice to have those teammates that are always there for you and always pick you up because they understand what you’re going through. I love having teammates and coaches that always support you and genuinely want the best for you.”