Franklin’s distance medley relay team claims their place at the top of the podium at the Viking Relays meet, hosted by North Salem High School on April 13. Photo by Jackson Hartigan.

“Please release all track students at 2:15 for their meet today,” the announcement chimes. Packed buses pull away with Franklin’s track and field representatives, the air filled with anticipation, the athletes ready for competition. With the arrival of spring, track season has begun, bringing fresh talent and veterans with it. So far, this year’s success has been immensely boosted by not only the new facilities, but by the team’s synergy and unity, which have built a community of hard working students.

The new track has sheltered athletes from the wind more so than the previous configuration. “The new high jump pit, the new pole vault pit, the new runways, that’s really, really big for the field athletes,” says distance-running coach Jacob Michaels. Franklin now consistently holds meets for high schools and middle schoolers, who are awestruck by the state-of-the-art facilities and track. In regards to the athletes this year, Michaels claims “we have a lot of senior standouts. Will Eaton (12) is one of the best runners in the state in the 800, 1500, and 3000 this year.” Alongside that, distance runner Autumn Ost (9) is the all-time school record holder in the 3000m, and Charlie Robertson (9) broke the freshman record in the 3000m that was previously held by Bryce Burgess, triple state champion and Franklin Alumnus. Burgess later went on to run for the University of Oregon.

“The [men’s] team really is a training and socially cohesive unit, and they have a fun time together, and they’re extremely welcoming to new athletes, particularly the freshmen,” says Michaels. “On a team level we have a couple of concrete goals, and that [is] to qualify three people for state,” Eaton says of the team’s success this season. Two people qualify for state from every district in each event, and then there are four wildcard spots that go to the next top four runners from all the districts combined. “Hypothetically, you could get six people from one district, if your district was just dominant. We would like to qualify three people in both the 3000m and 1500m,” says Eaton. That’s a tall but doable order for Franklin. “Everybody on the team thinks we have a shot, and it’s something to aspire to.”

“On a personal level, I haven’t really been pushed that much this season in terms of having competition, but I eventually will.” Eaton has his standards set for first or maybe second at state in the 1500m, 3000m or both. He is currently seeded first and second respectively in those two events for state, and holds the school record in the 3000m. “Everyone is just a great group of people, and I’ve been honored to be a part of the team.”

The track team has come together even further this year, on and off the track. This year’s women’s team has increased in size as well, with many freshman and sophomore girls joining. “It’s almost like we have an entirely new [women’s] distance squad and it’s really, really fun because they are extremely enthusiastic and a hard working group,” Michaels comments.

“I like to see the teams actually getting along [and] having fun because there’s a lot of hard work particularly in distance running and track. We are running every day, and we run quite a lot. If you can enjoy that process as a group, as a team with your friends, then it makes the process so much easier,” says Michaels. Franklin will keep up the high spirits as the season comes to a photo finish.

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