By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel High men’s track and field team was able to work outdoors again this week after being forced into Tarpon Gym most of last week.
The weather has improved considerably this week and team members and coaches are anxious to go to Donna this weekend for their first meet since their own Tarpon Relays three weeks ago. The Bobcat Relays at Rio Hondo, scheduled for March 6, were canceled.
Hurdler Omar Silva, for one, is very glad to be outside again. “I was working on my form,” he said Monday. “Better to work on your form than anything else.” Silva, a sophomore, has the Valley’s third-fastest time in the 300-meter hurdles with a clocking of 40.10 seconds. He also runs the 110-meter hurdles and owns a personal-best time of 16.10 in that race. Vince Castillo of Donna High has the top times in the Valley in both races at 14.22 (110’s) and 38.40 (300’s) and is a two-time state champion hurdler.
Silva expects to run against Castillo at the Donna North Relays in Donna this Saturday and looks forward to the challenge. “It’ll take more practice,” Silva said Monday at Tarpon Stadium. “I have to get better with my trailing leg. I want to improve my times as best I can … I want to be able to beat Vince Castillo.”
“We know the kid (Castillo) is good,” head Tarpon track coach Ryan Stanage said this week. “The young man can run. He’s a heck of a runner.”
“The reason I like for him to run against better competition is that’s what he’s going to see if he keeps on moving up. It’s going to be a big challenge for him.”
So, what about your ace hurdler’s mindset, Coach? Do you like the way he’s approaching and preparing for this opportunity? “He’s approached things the right way. He’s done a good job getting himself ready. The reason why I’m excited about him running against Vince is that that’s going to push him, and get him to that next plateau and give him a little more confidence, ‘Hey, I can run with these guys.’”
Coach Stanage also talked about how to keep the emotions under control at times like this; “I don’t mind him being nervous. I just don’t want him to be scared of running against somebody. If he’s a little nervous that’s a good thing. I’d like him to run a little bit nervous.”
Then there’s the proper way to run the hurdles, the mechanics of the event; “The 110’s is a very technical race,” Stanage said. “It helps to be fast but it also helps to have really good technique. If you watch the good hurdlers, they get that lead leg over and on the ground, and they’re swinging that back leg and getting on to the next hurdle as quick as they can. It’s very rhythmic – the quicker you can get over and on the ground the quicker you can go.”
Week by week Stanage has more bodies to work with and recognizes that it’s a process. “We had a couple more kids show up today that I haven’t seen in a while.”
Stanage also emphasized consistency in how often a given athlete will come to practice; “You can’t just come out one or two days. You’ve got to keep at it. The body doesn’t work that way. Right now (the kids) are still learning, still wondering what they can do. They don’t realize their bodies will do a lot more than they think it will.”
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