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Life under the sand

The sight from a jumper's eyes at Gunn High School's jumping pit, a vision no longer available for the long and triple jumpers at the Palo Alto High School track.

Grant Shorin

The sight from a jumper's eyes at Gunn High School's jumping pit, a vision no longer available for the long and triple jumpers at the Palo Alto High School track.

Paul Bienaimé

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Imagine playing baseball with no field or water polo with no pool. For the Paly track and field team’s jumpers, this inconvenience became a reality this year. When construction on the new bleachers around the football field hit a snag, Paly’s new jumping pits were not completed in time for the spring season, leaving the athletes without a practice venue.

On March 7, Paly’s jumping team lined up behind the pit stretch at Saratoga High School, hoping to perform as expected for their first leap into a sandpit this entire season. The jumps executed at this meet were not just the first competitive jumps of the season; for the Paly athletes, they were the first jumps performed with proper facilities.

“From the beginning of the track season until now, we haven’t had any jump pits,” Frankie Comey (‘14) said. “[Saratoga] was the first time jumping into a pit this season for our whole team, at our first official league meet, which was not exactly ideal.”

This year, the Paly administration decided to renovate the Paly football field and track. The plan includes larger bathrooms and an improved snack shack, along with new bleachers and eventually a new track. In the midst of the construction project, the jumping pits have been removed, and will not be rebuilt until the summer. Without the pits, the team is left disappointed and unable to practice to its fullest potential.

Captain Pippa Raffel (‘14) became concerned about the opportunities her team would have to practice and proceeded to talk to the girls’ track and field assistant coach Paul Jones.

“[Jones] doesn’t think the school will pay for a construction crew to build bleachers and a jumping pit at the same time,” Raffel said. “[This is] simply because we’re getting a new track during the summer and that the administration wants to do it all at once.”

For jumpers, the track restoration has brought nothing but disappointment and inconvenience. The athletes practice their jumping technique and form on the regular track, but lack the pits that enable the full timing experience to foreshadow their performance during meets.

“You can do all of the form work and plyometrics here, but we didn’t have the opportunity to practice landings and the whole timing all together and actually being able to perform a complete jump and landing into an actual sandpit,” Comey said. “That definitely hurt our performance.”

In order to get the practice it needs, the team treks across town to Gunn High School a few times a week to jump into the Titans’ pits. Tzur is also discontent and discouraged to have no home meets for his last season in a Viking uniform.

Tzur believes having no home meets is a changes the team’s mood and enthusiasm.

“We haven’t been able to practice as much but we go to Gunn a few times a week to jump into their pits,” Tzur said. “It’s sort of a bummer to have no real home meets this year and a bit of discouragement.”

In addition to the difficulties faced at practice, the team has had to find alternate locations to host meets. As Tzur said, the team is able to practice jumping into the pits at Gunn, which Comey echoed when asked about the team’s practice situation.

“It’s definitely a hassle to have to trek to Gunn to get my jump work in,” Comey said. “The option to go to Gunn and to jump there has helped a lot; it’s pretty crucial to have a pit to jump [into] during practice.”

Coach Jones has been with Paly for over two decades and wants his team to have more jumping opportunities than they have been given this season. The students are obligated to drive themselves to Gunn and are only permitted to do so on Mondays and Wednesdays. Jones wanted to minimize the commute for the team and spoke with The Viking about his efforts to have his team practice across the street.

“I’m trying to get the jumping team to head over to Stanford and practice,” Jones said. “I’ll be talking to somebody this week, but no promises are made.”

For this season’s jumping team, the absence of the pits is just another obstacle to hop over. <<<

 

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Life under the sand