By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Port Isabel Tarpon hurdler Omar Silva is working hard to get ready for the 2016 high school track season. Every weekday afternoon, after his last class lets out, he walks out to Tarpon Stadium and practices the two events he has competed in for the P.I. varsity since he was a freshman: the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles races.
Silva, a junior, also plays football for Port Isabel High. He rushed for over 1,000 yards this past season while also playing defense for a Tarpon team that finished the year with a 6-5 record after losing to Cuero in a first-round bi-district playoff game on Nov. 13. The following Monday he was back at Tarpon Stadium sans pads and helmet.
Silva wanted to get right into preparations for track season but a certain amount of healing and recuperation from football was required before he could go 100 percent on the track.
“I was already in shape but I wasn’t in track shape yet,” Silva told the Press Monday. “I was a little beat up, a little banged up. I just started slowly. I didn’t want to push so hard at once. It took about two, two-and-a-half weeks to heal up (from football).”
Silva talked about the different physical requirements for football and track. “In football every play lasts for about six seconds. To me, track shape … you have to have more stamina, more speed for the 100 meters and the 200-meters.”
One important difference between the 110-meter and the 300-meter hurdle races is that, for the 110s, the runner has only to go in a straight line, but, in the 300s one has to be able to turn left while maintaining speed and negotiating each hurdle. This, in turn, makes a difference in which leg the runner wants to lead with.
“With the 300s, with that curve, it’s better to go with your left leg as the lead leg, and the trail leg on your right side.”
The number of steps between hurdles remains constant for each race. “With the 110s it’s about eight steps to get to the first hurdle, and three steps between the hurdles.”
The emphasis at this point in the season, weeks before the first meet, is not on speed. “Right now I’m concentrating more on technique,” Silva said. “Later on, as the season goes on, I want to lower my time and get faster.”
The first meet of the season is on for Saturday, Feb. 13. That would be the PSJA Winter Relays. The Indian Nation Relays at Donna will follow a week later and the Tarpon Relays will be held at Tarpon Stadium on Feb. 27.
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