Senior Athletes Recount and Look Ahead to their Final Season

With the spring season starting up, the senior athletes will be representing the Panthers one last time. Type One reached out to seniors on the track and tennis teams to look back on their Pine Crest athletic careers and discover their goals for their final season.

When asked about his favorite memory from the track team, Jabari Owens said, “My fondest memory was placing third in the district 800m dash also last year. I was projected to place 6th and only the top 4 places could qualify for the regional meet. I managed to shave off a couple of seconds to run a PR and advance on to regionals.” Jack Rizzo and Gabriel Ortega both responded similarly, with their favorite memory being the overnight track meets, specifically the UF relays. Ortega said, “UF Relays is my favorite meet of the year and the team really gets to see what track and field is like at the collegiate level. Everyone leaves the meet with a new personal best along with even more passion for track and field.” Rizzo added, “It is such a great team bonding experience and so much fun to compete in because of the variety of unique events offered.”

The senior track athletes were proud to describe their personal goals for the upcoming season. Owens hopes to stay consistent in his performances during races and practice in order to set an example for other members of the team. Rizzo intends to make the states meet again with his relay team. Furthermore, Ortega plans to break the 3200m school record and make it to states in the 4x800m, 1600m, and 3200m races. The athletes will accomplish these goals through a strict training regimen. Runners will go to the weight room twice a week in the morning in addition to the running workouts in the afternoon. Owens said, “After school practice varies from day to day, but in general we do short and fast repeats on Monday, recovery on Tuesday and Thursday, longer repeats on Wednesday, a tempo run on Friday, and a long run on Saturday.” Coach Baur makes sure each workout is tailored to each individual athlete by providing a specific pace for the runner and a distance for them to run.

When asked if they had any advice for those starting out on the track team, the athletes shared their wisdom. Owens stressed the importance of consistency, “You need to consistently show up to practices, and consistently give your best effort to improve. We have athletes of all different skill levels and we all support each other heavily whenever we can. If you’re consistently giving your all, you will succeed.” Rizzo added how track is not only about running, but also mentality, “I think that athletes should come into track with a positive mindset. Running is a lot more mental than physical.” Ortega emphasized the significance of enjoying running, “Being able to enjoy running is crucial. It will be hard at the beginning, but I love pushing my limits and even shocking myself at times after races and workouts. For me, a day without running is a day without sunshine!”

Type One also talked to some of the seniors on the girls varsity tennis team and heard what they had to say about their favorite memories from playing tennis at Pine Crest. Juliana Kislin, senior tennis player, also looked back on her favorite memory from her Pine Crest tennis career. Kislin said, “My favorite memory from playing on the team was our trip to Tennessee for the Deco Turf National Championship where our team placed 2nd overall. The support that I felt while being on the team made me want to continue playing.”

In addition, Type One contacted Coach Farhan and Coach Alessio, varsity boys and girls tennis coaches respectively, to hear their plans for the teams this season. Coach Alessio stated that the main goal for the team this year is to promote strong chemistry. Although this goal may be challenging to promote because of the individual nature of tennis, he is confident the team can get it done. Kislin also plans to help promote strong bonds among her teammates, “Cohesiveness can dictate the entire season. I wish to be a strong team leader and support my fellow teammates throughout all of their matches.“ The tennis teams plan to focus more on doubles drills, as most competitive matches come down to winning the doubles matches. Coach Alessio said, “We play five singles positions and two doubles positions, so those doubles points are critical as they are played after singles.” Kislin voiced how it is important for potential doubles partners to train together in order to increase the chances of winning matches when they matter most.

Coach Farhan described the most enjoyable part of coaching the varsity boys tennis team is getting to work with the athletes at Pine Crest. “I get to work with high level players and be part of their growth both on and off the court. Many of our players will go on to play at top universities around the country.” Both Kislin and Coach Farhan had advice for players. Kislin said, “For people trying out it is important that you give 100% in every single challenge match. ” Coach Farhan’s advice was aimed toward seniors competing under Pine Crest for the last time, “I would tell our seniors to embrace their final years on the courts as Panthers and always be role models for the younger players. Being part of a team creates some of the best tennis memories these players will have.”

Type One wishes the best for both the track and tennis teams this season, along with the seniors representing the school one last time. Go Panthers!