Kalyn Zwik

Senior Kristianna Bliznakov finishing her high jump during the meet.

All about Track and Field Events

Feb 23, 2023

With the new track season starting up, many are excited and most people see Track and Field as a running sport, but what about the field events? At Niles West, track and field has shot put, discus, long jump, high jump and pole vault.

There are three types of jumps in track and field. Triple, long and high jump, each different in its own way. Triple and long jump requires length, while the high jump requires you to jump vertically.  To perform these, you have to use different techniques and different abilities.

Junior Kitana Forsythe goes in-depth on long jump, “Long Jump is one of the field events in track and field. Long jump is essentially a jump just throwing yourself into the pit of sand. All you have to do is theirs a long runway that you run down. You run as fast as you can, so you can build up as much momentum and as much speed as you can. Then, there is a white line about 8 or 12 feet before the pit, depending on where you want your mark. You have to get your foot right on that white line, if you don’t, you’ll do what is called a scratch. When you scratch, you miss the line, then your jump won’t count. If you do get on the line and you jump as far into the put as you can, then it’s a mark. A mark is where they record your jump and how long it was. They then post your score,” Forsythe said.

This event requires a lot of strength, and the momentum required in your build-up is key to success.

“Long jump really requires a lot of build-up of power. If you don’t have enough power then you’re not going to be able to throw yourself as far as you can. Speed is also a really big factor because if you try and jump without running first, you’re not going to get anywhere.” Forsythe said.

An event that uses both your upper and lower strength is shot put. Some think it’s similar to discus, but there are some differences. Shot put is one of the events that use your mental and physical technique. The way you throw it, predicts how far the ball will go and how you place your feet will determine how you throw the ball. All of the little things put into play on how you will perform.

Sophomore Alexander Yohanna explains what shot put is. “Shot put is an event where you have a 12-pound ball, and you have to build a technique on how to throw it. There are multiple different ways you can throw it like glides, power throw, spin or half spin. You first learn the technique and then get the form down. A lot of people think it’s about strength but it’s 20% strength. Most of it is that you have to learn the basics on how to throw the ball.” Yohanna said.

Yohanna has already improved a lot this new season, already hitting a new personal record (PR). “The way I hit my PR is with a glide. I practiced by glide at the start of the season. I worked on my explosiveness on the lower half of my body. When I was able to explode, I brought my chest out perfectly. My release went out perfectly, leading to me getting my PR. My last season PR was 24, but now it’s around 32.” Yohanna said.

Another event in the Track and Field sport is pole vaulting. Most people don’t see pole vaulting as one of the technical events, but senior Bethany Thai thinks otherwise.

“Pole vaulting is something that people are kinda scared of since you are sticking a pole into an 8-inch pit, and then jumping over the high bar. I feel like there is a lot of technique to it because there are all of these different mechanisms that can be used.. Personally, for me, it’s a little difficult because I am not as coordinated as they are. It was hard for me to pick it up, but there’s always room for improvement.” Thai said.

Though it might be scary vaulters get used to it and get improving with one thing at a time. “Last year, I would be scared to plant it in because I would fall, or I wouldn’t go all the way over and it would be really hard. Then, when I started to fix my run-up, I would start to fix the way I would put the pole in the pit. Now there are more things I have to worry about, like the way I swing my legs up so that I’m able to go over. Since the season just started, there is still a lot of the season left to improve.” Thai said.

Unlike sprints with many athletes, there are only a couple of field events like pole vault. “I love how relaxed pole vaulting is. Although it’s a really difficult sport, and there are not a lot of people that do it, it feels more like a community than competitors, ” Thai said.

With the Track and Field event players working hard in and out of school, they want to improve the best that they can. Some of the players are already hitting their goals and setting new PRs. Even if they haven’t, they never get discouraged. To meet their goals, some use the weight room, to gain strength. Or, they run to gain stability with their teammates. Track and field has a big community, so there’s always someone to cheer you on at your event.

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