Starting the Season in Strides: Distance Track Teams Look Forward to Upcoming Season


Credit to Sam Cary

Senior Ben Jamison and junior Joel Boenitz embrace each other after a varsity boys 4×800 in the Friday Night Relays meet at Francis Howell North.

By Patty O'Leary

With a new season quickly approaching, the Francis Howell North distance team has been training hard to prepare themselves for the many meets ahead of them. Their training is comparable to last year with similar workouts and runs. Although practice is run around the same lines and the majority of the varsity girls are the same, some of the faces on the guys side of the distance team are not.

“The distance team will be ran the same way it’s always been run,” distance and head coach Kim Martin said. “Probably the biggest difference is how many guys we’ve graduated, so you’ll probably see a lot of new faces on the guys team just because the majority of our varsity guys graduated last year.”

Although the season has just begun, some stand-out runners have begun to emerge. From returning to new, the distance team has had some people stepping up to the challenge and showing how their offseason training has prepared them for the season to come.

“I think Mackenzie Pugh [junior] is looking really strong, Maggie Hillmann [senior] is also looking really strong,” Martin said. “I think she could definitely do something in the 3200 because she’s really new to running and this is only her second year so she’s kind of a bit of a wildcard in knowing how much she can achieve.

“We still have Heidi Hauptman [senior] coming back who’s always solid, I can always count on her to pull it through in the end even though she’s coming off of an injury and isn’t really where she’d like to be currently but moving farther into the season I think she’ll get there. Claire Huss [junior] is returning from our 4×8 relay that went to state last year and is looking really good this year.

“On the guys side we’ve graduated a lot of people last year but we have a few people like Peyton Herbert [junior] and Joel Boenitz [junior] who are getting up there. A lot of people have trained really hard in the off season and it really shows by who’s standing out.”

In practice there is an overall sense of hard work and strong work ethic. This is brought on not only by the coach but also by the athletes. They try to push each other and encourage each other throughout practice everyday to make each other better with the goal of it paying off in meets.

“The biggest thing for my athletes is that they need to be able to push each other in practice,” Martin said. “Even on days when we’re not on the track, if we’re out on a distance run having someone that’s a similar pace as you to push you. When they’re on their own they tend to settle or chill and maybe not push themselves as hard as they should so for them I think it’s important to find someone with a similar pace to push each other.”

Reflecting on last year’s success leaves the team still craving more. Though at times practice may be hard for the team, they are more than happy to put in the work required to have just as, if not more, successful of a season.

“It’s all just about raising their level higher so when we get towards the end of the season we can keep improving,” Martin said. “We were able to go to state with our 4×8 girls last year so we are hoping that we can not only go to state for more events but to perform at higher level at state so we can place higher.”