FORT LAUDERDALE — Ahfachkee School’s young track and field team lacks numbers, but not heart.
This year’s squad features three high school runners and one middle school runner. Coach and Athletic Director Matthew Beckham wanted to see more kids on the team as it embarked on its second year of competition.
“I was hoping to have a bigger squad this year,” he said. “I think sometimes kids are nervous. They think they’re going to come out and get killed doing track and field, and it’s not like that.”
Middle school and high school athletes around the country use track and field in the spring as a training ground to improve their performances – including speed, strength and endurance – for their fall and winter sports. All four members of Ahfachkee’s team play basketball. They’re staying in shape by training for and competing in 100- and 400-meter races. Beckham said the 100 sprint is ideal for improving speed while the 400 helps with speed and endurance.
“It’s deciding what your favorite is,” he said.
This year’s team includes sophomore Abigail Tigertail and freshman Alonie Gore on the girls side, and freshman Gordon Jumper on the boys side. Jeremiah Pickup is the lone middle school participant.
Through the early portion of the season, Beckham said there’s been improvement from all his runners.
“Gordon has increased a lot; quite significantly. He’s already increased in the 100 by one second from last year and four seconds in the 400. He’s had a pretty good year of improvement,” Beckham said. “It’s Abigail’s first year running. She’s just an athlete. She’s doing really well, learning the proper mechanics of running and deciding which event suits her capabilities the best and which ones she likes the most.”
Ahfachkee’s program is still in its infancy. In its inaugural season last year the team was led by Franklin Jumper, but he no longer attends the school.
“He was kind of our leader from last year. I was excited about him because he improved a lot. He was running good times,” Beckham said.
Ahfachkee’s trio of high school runners competed in 400-meter races in the Calvary Christian Invitational on March 9 that drew hundreds of runners from schools such as Archbishop McCarthy, Calvary Christian, Cypress Bay, Key West, Pine Crest and Ransom Everglades. Tiger finished 29th in the girls 400 with a time of 1:11. Gore crossed the line in 32nd in 1:17, an improvement of four seconds from her time in the season opening meet at Westminster Academy.
In the boys 400, Gordon Jumper finished 36th in 1:01.
Nobody on the team does field events, although Beckham said Pickup is interested in the long jump.
“Jeremiah was thinking of trying to do the long jump, but we’re trying to find a facility to teach him the long jump. We don’t have a long jump pit at our school,” Beckham said.
Ahfachkee’s season includes a handful of meets and runs through mid-April.