Contributed by Maya Woods, Aptos High Track and Field Athlete
Photos Credit: Shiela Kadlecek
Over the years, Aptos High has established itself as one of the strongest track programs in the county and this year was no exception. Aptos High Track and Field athletes are known for their incredible athleticism and team spirit. Combined with the dedication and support of the coaches, the tradition continues.
As an athlete, I can attest to the fact we all come onto the track with the mindset of accomplishing our personal and team goals. Whether a freshman who has never done a track event before, or a senior with years of experience, we each strive to be the best.
Here are just a few of this year’s highlights, from the track and field banquet held at the end of the season:
Most Outstanding Freshman
- Girl: Brynn Mitchell; 400m, 100m hurdles, 300m hurdles, Long Jump, Triple Jump
- Boy: Vaughen Holland; 65m hurdles, 110m hurdles, 300m hurdles, High Jump, Long Jump, Triple Jump
- Girl: Indra DeSerpa Lyons; 100 meters, 100m hurdles, 300m hurdles. Indra is an outstanding hurdler. Coincidentally, her mom, PVUSD Superintendent Kim DeSerpa, was a hurdler as well!
- Boy: Josiah Sweet; 800 meters, 1600 meters, 3200 meters, and the 300-meter hurdles! Josiah won the Bob Enzweiller Award at League finals, earning the most points for his team in winning the 800, 1600 and 3200 meters. Coach Dan Gruber called him a “quiet assassin.”
- Girl: Marea Zlatunich; 800 meters, 1600 meters, Mile, 3200 meters. Even though Marea’s season was cut short by injury she ran the fastest mile in CCS at 5:01.18.
- Boy: Jorge Benetiz; 800 meters, 1600 meters
- Girl: Emma Burke; 100 meters. Emma dropped her 100-meter personal record from 13.6 to 12.8 this year and ran third leg on the 4×100 relay team that broke the 14-year-old school record at the SCCAL Championships.
- Boy: Jordan Kadlecek; 100 meters, 200 meters, High Jump, Long Jump, Triple Jump
Most Valuable Player: Track
- Girl: Marea Zlatunich. First-year head coach Zach Hewett called 11th grade Marea a “dominant and devastating runner.”
- Boy: Danner Pardue. Football star Danner was the only boy from the SCCAL to qualify for the state meet this year! Not only was Danner League Champion in the 100 and 200 meters, he was undefeated in league competition in both sprints. Danner will be walking on to the Chico State track team next year.
Most Valuable Player: Field
- Girl: Brynn Mitchell AKA “Miss Casual.” Brynn had the 2nd longest distance in the triple jump in the Central Coast Section and was ranked 10th in the state.
- Boy: Johnnie Gospodnetich. Johnnie contributed points in the Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault and Shot Put. I think there should be a decathlon in his future!
Track is not easy, but being consistent and showing up day after day not only helps yourself, it shows the commitment you have for what you do. Coaches and team members recognize those who exhibit these qualities and reward them with the title of Team Captain.
Next year’s captains were announced at the banquet and they are: thrower Alex Austen, sprinter Faith Dennis, and distance runners Jorge Benetiz and Moorea Zlatunich. The fifth team captain spot is always held open and announced once the season begins.
Finally, I want to thank our coaches including Head Coach Zach Hewett, Dan Gruber, Joel Koch, Buzz Gray and Patti Coulter. They are volunteers who come out merely for love of the sport, but they always make sure that they are there for us every single day. My hurdles coach, Tyler Casterson, drives over the hill and comes straight to practice every day. After a long day at work he makes sure that we are getting better.
Each of us, from throwers to sprinters, jumpers to distance runners learn about dedication, hard work, and camaraderie over the weeks we are on the track with our fellow athletes and coaches.
These are lessons we will carry with us for years and that will serve us as we go on our own life paths beyond high school. I encourage you to come out to a track meet next year. As our coaches always remind us: It’s a great day to be a Mariner!