Track takes on State!


Submitted by: Kevin Sanchez

Kevin Sanchez, Gemma Goddard, and Maci Simons at the Region track meet, after they found out they qualified for state

Taylor Chronert, Staff Reporter

The gun went off, and all the racers, including sophomore Kevin Sanchez and seniors Gemma Goddard and Maci Simmons, took off, running as fast as they possibly could. The crowd was screaming their names, their coaches were cheering them on, telling them to go faster. By the end of the event, Sanchez took home ninth place in the 3200, Goddard taking seventh and ninth in the 3200 and 1600, and Simmons taking eighth in the 100 meter hurdles and sixth in the 300 meter hurdles.

“My heart started pumping a lot so I was really nervous,” Sanchez said. “I just looked around and took a deep breath, and when the gun went off, it was just all in the running. Even though it wasn’t really my best race in any way, it was really fun to race at state and such a cool experience, and so I started looking past it within a day.”

At the Regional meet, Sanchez and Goddard were the Region IV-6A Champions for the whole meet, and Simmons achieved a school record for the 300 hurdles, which qualified them all for the state meet.

“I was really excited, but I was sad that our relay teams couldn’t go as well because we were supposed to go in a couple of the relays, and I was disappointed that they couldn’t go with me,” Simmons said. “My one regret though was that I didn’t lead hard enough in the finish line, so that was something that I was going into in my race at state.”

To help his confidence, Sanchez said that he and Goddard had many conversations about the meet.

“We were just like, ‘Yeah we’re going, we’re doing this now, you ready?’“Sanchez said. “It was really cool leading up to it because it was always just like we got sepreated from the rest of the group, and we were always just making fun of each other, it was just really fun.”

This year, the state meet was held at the University of Texas’ campus track at the campus.

“A lot of my mom’s family went there, including my mom,” Sanchez said. “She went to UT, so just being on the campus was really cool. Plus I’ve never ran there before, so just walking up to it, it was like, ‘We’re here.’” 

At state, Simmons took home another school record and even broke her record from regionals with a time of 14.62 seconds in the 100 hurdles.

“It was really exciting to me because obviously that’s something I get my name posted on the plaque and it’s really exciting,” Simmons said. “In the 300 hurdles though, there was a really strong head wind, and so I ended up going over all the hurdles with the wrong leg, so I wasn’t able to set a personal record in the 300.”

As a sophomore, Sanchez has competed in state two times: in cross country last year and track this year.

“It’s just completely different,” Sanchez said. “You get to just basically walk up and be like, ‘Oh man I’m one of the best runners in the state.’ It’s just such a cool feeling and there’s really nothing like it.”

What Simmons enjoyed most about getting to compete at state was just getting to compete with Sanchez and Goddard, and being able to represent Vandegrift at the meet with them. 

“I really like both of them, especially Gemma because she’s in my grade, so I know her a lot better,” Simmons said. “They are both just such hard workers and so kind, and I remember at some point in one of the meets, Gemma gave me icy hot for an injury, and they’ve always been so encouraging, so it was really an honor to go with them.”

Next season, Sanchez hopes to make it to state again and have a redemption from this year. He also hopes to take a couple of the other guys with him.

“We are a super capable group of people so I think if we can get more than just a couple of people over to state, or even just a few, that would be just really good,” Sanchez said. “I think that as a team we can just completely push each other and just make it.”

From having a cut season last year to getting a full season this year has changed the way Simmons looks at things.

“Not having the season last year really kinda makes you count your blessings and really appreciate it when you do have it,” Simmons said. “I feel like because it was my last year, if I did have a season, or if I would’ve gotten the opportunity to have a season last year, maybe I wouldn’t have been as appreciative of the opportunity as I was this year, but it really makes you appreciate what you have.”