After a 10-year drought of not hosting a track meet, Santa Monica College held the preliminary Western State Conference Track Meet at the Corsair Field this Friday, April 20.
Almost all of the junior colleges on the west coast that have a track team participated in the meet. Santa Monica College had some star standouts in their track meet, with Maria Freij winning her fourth 800m race of the year, Averette Dajone winning the men’s 150m hurdles, and Chimechi Oparanozie winning the shot put. All three of them will likely qualify for an opportunity to participate in the state championship.
It was a long day in the heat. The athletes were on the field from roughly 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., constantly warming up and preparing themselves for the competition. The track meet proved to be a success. It was a beautiful day, one that the Corsairs’ track and field team got to play at home.
The Santa Monica college student-athletes and coaches were all working hard to have a successful home track meet for the first time in 10 years. Krista Akney, the assistant coach of Track and Field Jumps at Santa Monica College, gave some insight as to why Santa Monica college has not hosted a track meet since 2009. “We can’t compete in the javelin and hammer so we mostly just don’t do it,” Akney said. “In this meet, we don’t have the javelin and hammer next week… so we finally decided to do one.”
Malik Young, an athlete that sat out a year before competing for the following season (also known as a redshirt), had different thoughts as to why Santa Monica College has not held a track meet in the past 10 years. “For the most part, I know a lot of the coaches meet up and have a meeting on where they should hold everything so I’m guessing that after the new buildings were built they could hold it here,” Young said.
Many Corsair athletes expressed excitement at finally playing in their home field. Corsair runner Chimechi Oparanozie said, “It feels great, usually track isn’t that hype for me but it feels like I’m going into a football game.”
Others have also brought excellent performances at the event. Marcia Freij, a second-semester freshman at SMC, has high hopes and aspirations to one day run in the Olympics. She had a dominating performance in her only race, the 800m, winning first with a time of 2 minutes and 14 seconds. Before the race, Freij said, “I think the most important thing is to be number one in my race.” Freij holds at number one in her all of her races so far, making her currently a favorite to win state.
Dajone and Oparanozie also had standout performances. Dajone ran a 14.87 second 150m hurdles which qualifies him to compete in the conference finals next week, and Oparanozie won first in shot put, giving him the opportunity to compete in the conference finals.
The Conference Finals will be held at Ventura College on Friday, April 27.
This story is published as part of a partnership between the SMC Corsair student newspaper and the Santa Monica Daily Press