Today was the state track meet. I'm exhausted, sunburned, and exhilarated. This has been one of the most challenging seasons of my coaching career, as my team is very, very young. When a good freshman races a good senior, the senior usually wins. There is a ton of potential among the athletes on this year's team, but we have just not had the top-end scoring punch to place well as a team. It has been necessary to adjust my sights and set more "moral victory" goals. And it certainly is good to help kids achieve personal bests, or to see a young athlete qualify for the state meet, even if that athlete is not in a position to score. But it's also hard to stay "up" when you're not winning.
Today, though, it all came together. My team peaked at just the right time, setting 23 personal-best marks. They also greatly exceeded expectations. That's one thing about a track meet--they seed you based on your previous times, so you know going in if you are the best, or third-best, or thirteenth-best, in your event. Based on our seedings, my boys should have scored 17 points and my girls 29. The boys wound up with 26 and the girls 47! This wound up being a 6th place finish for both (which is about what we expected). But when everybody does their very best job ever, it's easy to be happy.
Best of all, we had a couple of genuine WINS on the day. A sophomore girl who had never triple jumped further than 32'8" in her life uncorked a 34'2" effort on her last attempt and won gold. And my girls' 4x100 relay team, led by a senior captain who has been on this same relay since 7th grade, not only came from behind to win a state title, they also broke a school record from 8 years ago that I had thought was going to stand forever. Relays are my favorite events--when you win, 4 kids get to share the medals. And they require discipline, teamwork, and trust. Being part of their celebration today made me happy I decided against law school almost 20 years ago!