It’s a chilly Saturday at Westlake High School and the stadium is buzzing with excitement. As a gunshot sounds, eight runners take off on the track to lead off their relay. Voices are heard from all over the bleachers, as well as on the field. As the athletes approach the finish line, a runner in red, white and blue passes another draped in maroon. Westlake has taken the lead. Within 10 seconds, the runner lunges past the finish line in first place.
On Feb. 25, the Chap Relays were held at Westlake starting at 8:30 a.m. Featuring track members from more than 16 schools in the Austin area, the Chap Relays is one of the biggest events of the year for the Westlake track teams, and a must-see for anyone who loves a little competition and athleticism. Overall, the varsity boys placed third, the JV boys placed second, and the freshman boys won first place. As for the girls, the JV team won first and the varsity girls team came in second.
Leading up to the Chap Relays, each individual must practice for his or her event, working on speed, distance, accuracy and endurance.
“For Chap Relays, I do all my normal workouts and try to eat healthier the week before,” said sophomore Laura Laboon, who placed fourth in the varsity 300 meter hurdles. “Mostly my main motivation is my teammates cheering me on.”
Similarly, junior Rosemary Pousset, who is also a member of Westlake’s cross country team, trains with more of a focus on long-distance. She runs the 1600 meter for junior varsity and placed first with a time of 6:02.37.
“I’m in cross-country, so I’m used to doing a lot of distance workouts,” Rosemary said. “I’m training mostly for the mile or the two-mile. I didn’t do the two-mile [at Chap Relays] but our workouts are usually an average of five-ish miles because we’ll do a two-mile warm-up and then repeats. Some days it’ll be 10 400s, some days it’ll be like six 800s at the pace that we’re supposed to run a two-mile. So it’s really intense, but it pays off.”
After winning a race, most athletes can agree with its satisfying effects.
“I’m just happy it’s over,” said junior Matthew Kearney, who placed second in the 1600 with a time of 4:25.04. “I cross the line and I’m like ‘phew, I need some water.’ But the great part about it is no matter what place you come in, it’s kind of a feeling of accomplishment. You know you just ran a mile whether that was at four minutes or it was at six minutes. You did it, and you did it with the guys out there, and so you just kind of look forward to the next one you get to do.”