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New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

NT boys track and field aims big for 2024 season

Team focuses on reaching individual goals, having a successful season, and boosting chances for state victories
Andrew Schmitt
Boys Track and Field team at Proviso West High School meet on Feb. 10

On Feb. 10, New Trier High School’s boys track and field team raced toward multiple victories at two meets—one at Evanston Township High School and the other at Proviso West High School. With those wins under its belt, the team hopes to take more students to state this season. 

Last season, the team won conference at every level—the first time this century for New Trier—and got third place at the 3A division sectional championship. That sectional is the largest of the three. 

Even if we don’t hit our goal of two people at every event, I think, regardless of what happens, I know that I’m going to be proud of our team and I know our coaches are too.

— Liam Salama

Now, a year later, the route for the team to get as many students to qualify for state runs through sectionals. For a student to head to state, they must be one of the top two people in their event at sectional or reach a qualifying score. Each school can only send two students to state for each event and one relay. 

“We want to, before we run at sectionals, to already have done these [qualifying standards], so that when we go to sectionals, we just go out and take care of business,” head coach Andrew Schmitt said.

Senior Nick Goebel, a varsity distance runner, said that with Schmitt in his third year as head coach, a lot can happen this season.

“We’ve had enough time to really develop to his coaching and teaching, so now we know a lot more about the sport of track and field, so we’re pretty excited about what we’re going to do this season, and it’s just starting,” Goebel said. 

The new season, Schmitt said, has brought more students to the program, with about 200 students registering. Also, of the 12 students who went to state last year, eight are back on the team. 

Schmitt has worked to recruit students from other sports. He was happy to see that effort work, considering some coaches want to keep athletes on their workout routine rather than joining a different sport. The new influx of students has increased the talent on the team. 

“That makes us better, but I hope in turn it makes those kids better athletes and better competitors that they can in turn go back to football, soccer, swimming, whatever it is, and be that much better,” Schmitt said. 

Schmitt said the newly constructed East Side Athletic and Academic facility is another resource for future success. 

“Not only the last two years we were in the hallways, but now you have the track and when the weather is bad, you [students] can always be inside rather than being out in the cold or in the rain,” Schmitt said. 

Junior Evan Shu, a varsity distance runner, said that while the track coaches want students to place at meets, they also want students to perform at their best, whatever that may be. 

“What a lot of the coaches [say] is, ‘You’re not always going to feel 100% every day…but you just need to deliver your 100% on that given day, even if that isn’t a [personal record] or even if something doesn’t go as planned,’” Shu said.  

Shu has taken that mantra to heart and seen a positive impact on how he approaches meets. 

“It relieves some stress that you might have before the day, and it allows you to get rid of those nerves and be more confident in yourself and just enables you to do your best,” Shu said.  

Students are supported not only by their coaches, but also their peers. 

Junior Ben Park, a junior varsity distance runner, joined track this year. Before track, he would run alone for longer distances, but when he started practicing alongside students, he would run faster than when alone. 

“It’s a very supportive group of people. You’ll be running and then you’ll have your teammates cheering you on as you run by them and there’s a lot of positivity. You work with the same people every day, so you get to know them as the season goes,” junior Ben Park, a junior varsity runner, said.  

The teamwork aspect of any sport pushes students beyond supporting one another and becoming better athletes. Since students are separated by events at practices, they get to know each other better, and form a competitive bond between them. 

“It’s just fun beating your friends but it just gives that extra little bit of drive competing against your teammates,” Goebel said. “In practice, it’s all fun and games, but then when the meet comes, they’re still your teammates, but you need to beat them as well.” 

Schmitt knows that individual support is crucial for students to get the most out of track since everyone is at a different level. This season, the team started to use the app, V.O2 Running Coach, to make workouts more individualized. 

“You could have a whole workout, but then based on each athlete’s paces, the app determines how fast they should run their workout,” Schmitt said. 

Junior Liam Salama, a junior varsity distance runner, said that the most important part of meets is individual improvement.

“It’s just you against the clock,” Salama said. “Whether you get first or last place might matter for competition, it ultimately matters whether you improve at the end of the day.” 

As the season goes forward, Salama hopes for positive outcomes. However, no matter what transpires, he knows the work and effort the team put in was worth it. 

“Even if we don’t hit our goal of two people at every event, I think, regardless of what happens, I know that I’m going to be proud of our team and I know our coaches are too,” Salama said.

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