Archive for Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Track kids know how to talk the talk

April 25, 2006

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Chip Anderson put it best just as the Kansas Relays came to a close in the Saturday evening twilight at Memorial Stadium.

"This is great for you," said Lawrence High's assistant track coach. "There's a lot for you to write about."

The man speaks the truth. And sometimes, the truth hurts.

The reality is, no matter how fleet you are on your own feet, it's nearly impossible for one reporter to cover each and every interesting aspect of any high school track meet. There's simply too much going on in too many places at the same time.

It's only magnified at an event such as the Relays, which are to the typical track meet what a triple shot of espresso is to a late-night cup of decaf. Everything is bigger and better, simply increasing the odds of missing something good.

So, you can be busy watching one kid who your readership cares about earn a respectable finish in the shot put while someone else who is worthy of ink unleashes a gold-medal-winning throw in the javelin - one of many scenarios I encountered over the weekend.

The next challenge is getting into print all the good stuff that follows these performances, because, to a man - or woman, or boy or girl, for that matter - track and field offers up the best talkers in town.

Everyone with an interest in the Relays knew about the trash talk exchanged between headliners Maurice Greene and Justin Gatlin prior to their much-anticipated duel in Saturday's main event, the men's invitational 4x100-meter relay.

The fun thing is, all the good quotes weren't saved for the pros. While the high schoolers weren't busy trading smack, they did a good job offering up insights about themselves and their sport.

Here's a sampling of some of the good stuff that made its way into my notebook but didn't find its way onto the printed page until now:

"It's not just about winning, but pushing myself as far as I can. I want to puke after a race some time."

Free State High senior Alysha Valencia offered that gem after running away with the girls 3,200 meters. I guess you could say it's the epitome of all-out effort.

"There were people coming in here at 6-11. I was like, 'I'm going to get crushed.'"

That's Lawrence High junior Kevin Logan admitting the insecurities he carried into Friday's boys high jump. The initial vibe didn't weigh him down, as he cleared 6-8 to win the gold medal.

"It's a definite eye-opener."

Baldwin High senior Jeremy Wright uttered this simple phrase to describe what it was like to compete on such a big stage for the first time. Apparently, open eyes make for less air resistance, as Wright soared to a school record in the long jump, finishing third overall.

That's some refreshing honesty. Here's hoping for a heaping second dose the next time the circus breaks out - a little more than four weeks from now when many of the same faces will ply their trade at the state meet in Wichita.

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