The Dons are known for succeeding in many different types of sports including football, soccer and basketball. But one sport that does not get the recognition that it deserves is track and field. Every year, Dons track and field athletes are sent onto the CIF prelims and then, every few years, a few athletes make it to the CIF championships. This year is definitely one of the strongest all around teams that the Dons have had in a long time.
Unfortunately, the Dons were informed before the season that Santa Barbara High School would be unable to host any meet this season, even though they were scheduled to host at least three, due to the fact that the new Peabody Stadium is still in the process of being built. This was disappointing news for the seniors, who were hoping to end their high school careers with at least a few track meets that they could run at home. Nonetheless, this small problem will not distract the Dons from reaching their main goal: sending as many people as they can to the CIF prelims and then hopefully the CIF finals.
The track and field team this year is filled with tons of talented athletes, both boys and girls. One of the boys to watch for this year is Jake Ballantine, a senior, who is a long distance runner for the Dons and is ready to compete after a big season last year, where he made it all the way to the CIF championships. Another person to keep an eye on is Jake Knecht, a junior, and an outstanding sprinter, who placed first in the first track meet of the season. As for the girls, junior Mila Speers is returning after a comeback season, where she really improved as both a jumper and a runner. Another returning star is Katherine Hendrick, a sophomore who had one of the best performances as a freshman in Dons track and field history last year. She is returning, hoping to succeed in hurdles and running, and eventually make it back to the CIF championships.
The first meet of the season for the Dons was the Thousand Oaks Invitational at Thousand Oaks High School on February 22nd. It was a very well run meet, and the Dons were up against some very competitive teams from all around California. Although it was not a very important meet for the Dons, nerves were buzzing all around the Dons team because it was their first meet of the season. Everyone was able to override their nerves and compete with their talented and strong competitors. Jake Knecht had an outstanding overall meet, as he placed third in the 100 meters run and placed first in the 200 meter run. He showed great potential for this season after his amazing performance. Another great performance for the Dons was Dante Vallejo, who placed fourth in the shot put. This was Vallejo’s first track meet since coming off a season of recovery from an ACL injury from last year. This was a great meet for the Dons to start their season with. Everyone seemed content after the meet was over and although some things could be fixed, the whole team showed great potential.
The season ahead is looking good for the Dons and with the talented team that they have now, it seems like nothing can stop them. There’s still a long season ahead and the Dons can not get complacent as the season is still just beginning.