I’d like to think that back in my youth I had some speed to me, but every click into the database we now know as the internet has done more and more to chip away at that thought.
I ran track for three years in high school (I wrestled my sophomore year, whole different story) and thought I did pretty well for my competition, although not nearly as well as those competing on the track and field this past weekend in Austin.
The top 2,424 athletes from around the Lone Star State made the trip to Mark A. Meyer Stadium to shatter personal, school and national records over the course of two days. You likely already saw how the Austin County representatives fared, but that sort of got my gears rolling back to my days racing out there on the rubber.
I only ran track during the winter because I played baseball in the spring, and so there were only so many event choices to choose from with only long jump, high jump and shot put serving as the field options. My limits were further capped, mainly by myself, at running no more than 200 meters as a leg on the shortest relay possible.
I ran the 400-meter dash once as a freshman and kicked way too early and ended up fading by the end of it and knew I’d be sticking to the short races. I finally tried my hand at the hurdles my junior year under the close supervision of an athlete who had just cracked the college track scene in my older brother.
That ended up being my bread and butter event where I eventually led the team and even recorded a faster time than my taller, stronger brother who competed at Division II Franklin Pierce because of his work in the same event as a Milford Hawk. Definitely not a big deal.
Anyway, as my gears continued to spin, I was remembering one sort of big event where I remembered competing in multiple events but couldn’t exactly put my finger on it.
I dialed up the research department known as Mitch McNanna and he went to work reading off some of my top marks that apparently were uploaded to some database that I have since gone back to “claim this athlete” which was a weird process.
It read I ran a 7.41 55-meter dash my first time out as a junior which stood as my personal record, a 9.00 time in the 55 hurdles in the penultimate district meet of my senior year bettered Mitch’s record by .29, but who’s really counting, and my best long jump came in the final meet my last year with a measurement of 16 feet, 10 inches.
Those numbers obviously pale in comparison to the state-qualified level not only in Massachusetts but down here as well, as I found combing through the results on my computer that “Man, I am not fast.” But I still had fragments of memories floating around in my head in running in a one-day event where I definitely hurdled, threw the shot put and ran a longer-distance race than I was used to and similarly died during that as well.
I ultimately had to find the results on my own, but I did finally wade through enough wrong articles to find the result listings from the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association’s pentathlon from Feb. 26, 2014.
One senior from Milford, McNanna, Cole, finished 73rd out of 110 point-scoring athletes with 2,163 points scored. A 19-foot, 7-inch long jump put me 16th overall and grabbed the most points (580) to my overall score, although a 9.27 time in the hurdles wasn’t far off (549). From there, a 27-foot, 6-inch shot put was followed by a 4-foot, 7.75-inch high jump before that long run I knew I died in.
It was a 1,000-meter run and as previously mentioned, not more than 400 meters had been run competitively at one time, and I vividly remember being short of breath on the third and fourth turn of maybe the second lap and turning to those behind me and said, “If you guys are pacing off me, I have no idea what I’m doing.” From there, I was passed by multiple people and eventually crossed the finish line in 3:41.75, which earned me 101st out of 106 runners. Yeah.
Paired with teammates John Scozzafava (1,974 points) and Luis Goncalves (1,683) our combined 5,820 points landed us 22nd out of 28 qualifying teams.
I’ll always remember the long days spent at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury and the bonds created with fellow teammates who were done competing and needed to kill the next five hours of the day. Track and field is certainly a sport unlike any other whose athletes are some of the best in their respective countries whether you’d know it off the bat or not.