The 2015-2016 Half Hollow Hills West track team did not live up to their own standards, finishing with a mediocre 3-3 record. Coming into this season, the team saw an opportunity to build on the foundation they set from the previous year. That is exactly what happened as they went undefeated with a 6-0 record, in addition to winning the league championship. This brought the amount of boys league titles in school history to sixteen.
Just like with all sports teams, the coach is undoubtedly influential in creating a culture that the players utilize in order to succeed. That is exactly what Coach Christian was able to do by stressing the importance of looking inward. While it is very easy to blame others, looking at yourself in the mirror and evaluating your own actions can motivate people to do things that they never thought possible. When Captain Jovahn Williamson, who’s 100-yard time is the fastest in the league at 10.5 sec, was asked about the relationship he had with his coach he responded, “my relationship with Coach Christian has grown stronger every year throughout my time on the track team. He has trained me very hard and has really helped shape me into the runner that I am today. I would not be where I am at without him.”
However, coaching is just one piece of the puzzle as it also takes talent to get the job done. This can be attributed to key members of the team including the aforementioned Jovahn Williamson along with Tunde Alaketu, Noah Pincus, Chris Strasser, Cameron Wolk, and Nick Duchatellier.
It takes a certain type of mentality to be able to not lose a single meet. When asked, Strasser commented that, “our comradery and our ability to continuously motivate each other, along with the collective goal to show that Hills West is a force to be reckoned with on the track is what allowed us to go undefeated.” Due to the fact that a team is always tested one way or another, Strasser continued on to say that, “the biggest challenges we faced as a team was conditioning the younger athletes to compete in large competitions and struggling without some of our top runners due to injuries.”
Tunde, whose best event is the 400m hurdles and ran it under a minute once with a time of 59.2 sec, talked about what it is like to go out on an undefeated season. “The fact that we were able to accomplish this is extremely heartwarming, because of the constant grind it took. As a senior and a captain I am overjoyed and very proud of my team because the team consists of freshmen through seniors that contributed to our success. Being able to see the underclassmen prosper only makes me happy.”
The road doesn’t stop here as Williamson put it, “This team has the potential to accomplish great things, and as the season comes to a close we hope to achieve that potential. We are looking forward toward states and nationals, but we are training hard everyday in order to better ourselves and achieve what we know we can.” Based on the type of season they had, it’s very easy to look forward. Even though increased production results in increased expectations, it seems like these Colts will be able to tackle whatever comes their way for years to come.
Coach Christian Retires!
After thirty plus years as a Track Coach, Christian has decided that this is his last year at West. There is no better way to go out than finishing with an undefeated season. The impact that he has on every individual player he coaches is enormous, and that is examplified in these statements from some of the members of the team.
“When I first joined the track team I strictly ran short distance races like the 100m and the 200m. I was okay at those races but Coach Christian had me try the 400m which is a mid-distance race and saw my potential in an event that was outside my comfort zone. Since then that has been my race and I’ve been successful in it. I couldn’t have done that without his encouragement.”- Nick Duchatellier
“Coach Christian has been coaching for an incredibly long time, and is highly respected in the track community. No matter what kind of kids are thrown at him, each year he always seems to put together a strategic training plan that allows the athletes to reach levels that they never thought possible. It is truly remarkable and just goes to show the positive impact that he has on his athletes. He will be greatly missed as a coach.” -Jovahn Williamson
“Christian is a very determined coach, and never settles. Every time you step on the track he expects your best. In practice he always makes sure everyone is prepared, and what the best strategy is for each race. During the actual meets he is incredibly inspirational, because he wants to see each person perform up to the level they are capable, and that’s a big reason why we were able to reach such a high level of success.” -Cameron Wolk