Winter track ends season on a high note

From freshmen to seniors, RV athletes demonstrated growth and grit throughout the season


RVRHS Athletics Twitter

Freshman Xavier Bancroft at the 2023 Nike Indoor Nationals, where he won 6th place in the 60m dash

Autumn Austin, Sports Writer

Winter track was a highly anticipated sport this school year. Throughout the season, RV athletes had the opportunity to compete, from invitational meets to the Nike Indoor Nationals. The multitude of great turnouts by runners is an indicator for a strong upcoming Spring Season. Notably, records such as the 55m and 400m were broken by freshmen boys, Xaiver Bancroft and Thomas Howard. 

Senior Meshona Ogoemesim is a sprinter who has been doing track since freshman year, but unfortunately was out her junior season due to an injury. She says how coming back after being gone for so long has been one of her biggest breakthroughs. 

Ogoemesim made an appearance at NJSIAA Sectional Championships. She came first in prelims and finals running a 7.44 for the 55 meter. Another impressive performance came from Lauren Fadairo who placed second in the high jump. 

Ogenmesim was ranked the top seed in Sectionals and qualified for States, New Balance and Nike Nationals.  

 “My biggest takeaway from this year is a phrase I constantly repeat, which is ‘trust your training,’” she said. “You already put in the work, you just have to believe.”

For athletes who experienced injuries during previous seasons, Winter Track offers a chance to recoup after weeks or months of training lost. Like Ogoemesim, distance runner Sarah Paulin is also a senior who endured an injury during her junior year, but had the chance to get back onto the track this winter.

Last year Paulin’s stress fracture left her in a boot and crutches for months. She details how overcoming the fear of getting hurt again was one of her biggest obstacles that she continues to overcome. However, Winter Track is an opportunity for formerly injured athletes to become comfortable with running again before facing Spring Track. 

As I’ve gotten back into running, I’ve begun to realize that I need to overcome this fear of another injury that has been holding me back and I think that that’s the most important thing for me right now as an athlete to continue improving,” said Paulin.

Winter Track also gives athletes the opportunity to cultivate long-lasting relationships. After 4 years of competing for RV Track, Paulin  has bonded with her teammates through the long meets and tiring practices. 

These girls have been there for me through thick and thin and they’re like family to me,” she said.

Even though track was both mentally and physically challenging this season, it can be extremely rewarding—just look at freshman Caleb White and Xaiver Bancroft.

White and Bancroft both just started Winter Track at RV this year and fell in love with the sport while breaking records along the way.

“It was quite the experience,” said Bancroft. “I didn’t expect to break any records this year.”

Bancroft has broken the 55m, 200m and 300m records. Along with these records, Thomas Howard also broke the 55m record and set a 400m record. 

Howard placed first at the Armory HS Holiday Classic with a 23.52 time in the 200 meter. He also PR with a 39.03 time in the 300 meter at the Bishop Loughlin Games. 

Both Howard and Bancroft received the All American award at the Nike Indoor Nationals, which took place both March 10 and 11. Bancroft placed 6th with a 7.34 time in the 60m, and Howard placed 5th with a 52.80 in the 400m. These freshmen were among multiple RV athletes who qualified for the Nike Indoor Nationals, a competitive Winter Track Meet that brings contenders from across the country.

White was another freshman that joined the RV track program this year alongside his teammates Bancroft and Howard. He details how one of the best parts about being on the track team is not only growing as an athlete himself, but also watching his friends improve as well.

White said part of the experience of Winter Track is “being with my two friends while they run…and just enjoying it.”

Coach Jason is a first-year distance coach for RV, and has led them through a great season. Alongside RV’s other amazing track coaches, he has led this department to be one of the best in the state. He is optimistic about the future of RV track with the new freshmen additions and what a great job they’ve done this season.

We had a lot of first time track & field athletes on the team this winter and it was a lot of fun seeing the new competitors pick and develop into their own event groups,” Coach Jason said.

After Sectionals, among the athletes who qualified for states were those that missed the mark by less than a second. With so many highly-performing athletes, RV coaches look forward to the Spring Season where athletes can continue to improve and compete. 

“A few kids who had exceptional first seasons were La’El Yates, a freshman in the pole vault, Christian Rouzard, a sophomore from our middle distance group, and Xavier Bancroft, a freshman in our sprints group,” Coach Jason said. “These young athletes are anticipated to lead the next wave of track & field athletes of RV.”

Spring track is also a second chance for runners who were runners-up and unable to qualify for more competitive races like States. Most Winter Track athletes will be returning for the spring season, the season where athletes tend to make the most breakthroughs as far as PRs. March 16 was the first practice of the Spring Track season, and will be another chance for these athletes to continue to overcome obstacles and break records for the RV Track program.