Lee’s track & field teams started the season off strong on Sunday, Jan. 21 with a first-place finish for the men’s team and fourth place for the women’s at the Emory Crossplex Invitational. With high standings and high spirits, the teams now determinedly look to the National Championship as their objective.
“My goals are a reflection of the coaching staff and team,” said assistant track & field coach Joseph Crook. “We strive to qualify as many individuals as possible for Indoor and Outdoor Nationals by reaching a provisional standard in each event.”
On the men’s side, the Flames achieved a total of seven individual wins at the meet, setting both personal and school records. Coach Crook explained that the team expects many more personal records to follow as the season progresses.
“Of course, this is totally dependent on good training, recovery and smart racing. I believe most of the team is expectant to set some new personal bests,” Crook said.
Juniors Justin and Josiah Brooks, former winners of the 200- and 400-meter dash as well as first place for the 60-meter dash and triple jump, were two of Lee’s leading athletes at the meet in Birmingham, Ala. Justin Brooks expressed his determination, in light of his accomplishments, to reject complacency and pursue improvement.
“My motivation has never changed. It’s always been to get stronger and faster than I was the last meet,” Brooks said. “I enjoy my past success, but I need to aim higher.”
Coach Crook voiced his faith that the Brooks twins’ performances will drive them straight to Nationals, commending them for their desire to further develop their natural abilities. The coach shared this same enthusiasm about Christian Noble, who took home first place in the mile run, a new Lee record. Noble also wiped out the competition by winning the 5,000 meter run by six seconds.
The Lady Flames also attained success through athletes Emily Buwalda, Charlee Boxall, and Amy Carpenter among others. Buwalda placed first in the 800-meter run, while Boxall finished fourth. Boxall also finished second in the mile run, and Amy Carpenter held second in the 3,000-meter run.
On both teams, numerous freshmen have already shown potential this season. Lady Flame Mikayla Beeler placed ninth in the long jump, and Avery Truelove followed closely at 14th. Truelove also placed 10th in the triple jump.
“We are excited to see her excel at the college level,” Coach Crook said regarding Truelove, “and also make a difference on the conference level as a freshman.”
The assistant coach also alluded to the potential of freshman Flame Cason Still, who placed ninth in the 60-meter dash, tying his personal record. He also placed 15th in the 200-meter, setting a new personal best.
In the eyes of upperclassman Justin Brooks, Teagen Lenox has stood out among the seven freshmen on the men’s team. Lenox, like Brooks, runs the 400-meter, and he placed 28th at the team’s first meet of the year.
“I want to teach him all I know,” Brooks said. “He lets nothing stop him from being the best that he can be. He also, without knowing it, pushes me to do better, and even though our times in practice are fast, he always does his best to hit them.”
Three Lee athletes carried their achievements into the KMS Invitational on Jan. 28, continuing their astounding performances. Justin Brooks placed sixth in the 200-meter and fifth in the 400, and his brother Josiah placed eighth in the 200 and 13th in the 400. For the women, Buwalda held second place in the 800-meter run.
Starting off at the top for the men’s team has certainly yielded high expectations for the rest of the season, as has the women’s fourth-place ranking. Coach Crook explained that this early success proves that the teams are in a better condition than previously anticipated. As the teams progress into the year, we can expect this success to persist as the athletes focus on further improvement.
“We hope to continue to improve from this momentum,” Crook said. “Overall, I believe everyone’s head is in a good place.”