Running Toward Greatness


Photo by Bhavesh Bhakta

Senior Tiriah Kelley surpasses the other runners in the 100-meter dash in the district track meet at Tom Kimbrough Stadium April 13.

The track teams competed in district April 13-14 with their varsity girls and boys team and their junior varsity girls and boys team. They won second place in the boys 400 meter relay race and first place in the girls’ 400-meter relay race. The top four in each event continued on to the Area meet April 21 at Ron Poe Stadium in McKinney.

“The district meet is really about momentum and if you can do well [with] everyone supporting each other, it’s like a snowball effect,” girl’s track and field coach Robert Reed said. “I think that they did a tremendous job in executing what we asked them to do. We had a couple of surprises [and] I was really proud of them.”

Like any other meet, practices were required to prepare for individual and team events. These practices not only included bettering themselves for the events but also workouts that were beneficial to the overall performance of the team.

“It takes a lot of planning, but also practice,” junior varsity freshman Brendan Atok said. “You have to learn how to wait your turn and learn [how] to be independent. I try to do my workouts to the fullest extent that I can, so I don’t have to wait too long in between things.”

Leading up to the first day of districts, nerves were in full swing. To junior varsity sophomore Emilia Zarate, there were many methods to focusing and calming down her uneasiness. 

“You’ve got to stay really mentally focused,” Zarate said. “I like listening to music and stretching before, thinking to myself that I can do this. My goal isn’t to do good overall, but to just be better than I was the day before [and] get a personal record.”

Seniors Kaylee Moody and Tiriah Kelley placed first with their relay team along with runners Janiya Richardson and Kaley Qualls. This achievement meant that this was their fourth consecutive title in this event with a time of 46.18 seconds.

“It was fun to be with all of my friends that I would probably run with for the last time,” Moody said. “You get to watch your teammates work individually, but when you’re on a relay, you get to take those individual aspects of a runner and combine it to make a good team.”

Kelley won district titles in both the 100 and the 200-meter races, receiving medals for first place in these events. For her, the experience was nerve-racking, but worth it in the end. 

“Going in being first doesn’t mean you’ll come out being first,” Kelley said. “The feeling was really emotional. It felt amazing knowing that, in front of all of my friends and family, they all got to watch me cross [the] line in first at my last home meet.”

For seniors, while there is the opportunity to move on to the Area meet, this was their last home meet with all of their friends from other schools and family. Reed reflects on how these seniors have impacted the overall experience of track and field and how they’ve improved throughout the duration of the season.

“It’s just a special environment, especially because of the seniors who’ve been with us for four years,” Reed said. “I want them to understand what they mean to this program. I want them to go and show out in front of their friends and family.”

After two days of this district meet, the team received individual and group district titles that would move on to the next upcoming meets including Area and State. While this was the last home meet for seniors, the underclassmen who will continue to do track have more ahead of them.

“The feeling was really great knowing that, as a senior, this was my last time to make it to district and we’re continuing to do good,” Kelley said. “We thought that after the class of 2022 graduated, there weren’t going to be very many incoming underclassmen, but they’re doing really great. The feeling of knowing that, even though this is my last district, it isn’t Plano East’s last district [which] was really great.”