Jamie Kim, cub writer
Like all spring sports, track and field has only just begun, but as head coach Dwayne Washington put it, the team shows a lot of promise.
According to Simon Langer’s website following the track and field team, there are many athletes that stand out, including junior boys varsity sprinter Raehaan Poonja and freshman 400m runner Leticia Valle.
At his starting block, the blood pulses through his brain, and he can only focus on one thing. For him, every race is a new opportunity to set a personal record and a chance to do the best he can. Then, he flies off the block.
Poonja, a 100m and 200m dash sprinter, is currently on the All Times List for Beverly, according to the track and field team’s website. Furthermore, Poonja is tied for 46th for the boys varsity 100m event on the California Track and Field Top 50 List. However, he hadn’t planned on joining the team until his friends convinced him to.
“I actually originally was playing football more than track. Then, I had a lot of friends and people that I’d played football with that when I came into high school, [they] said that I should try track. I started running freshman year,” Poonja said.
Due to his speed and endurance on the track, he has received multiple offers from various colleges, who have already begun keeping an eye on him.
“So far, I’ve only gotten DIII offers, but I’ve been in contact with a lot of schools. They’ve said if I hit the times this year, then I’ll be able to go to them. So, I start off my season running times that are substantially close to them, but there are schools that I’m hoping that I can hit the times to get into, like Brown, UPenn, and Georgetown,” Poonja said.
At the Cal Relays on March 21-22, he won first place in varsity boys 100m with 11.25 seconds.With this time placed, he qualified for the finals, in which he placed fifth with 11.14 seconds. He also ran in the 200m race with his personal record, 22.82 seconds, in the finals. This ranked him as #38 in the Beverly varsity All Times List. However, he still has many goals that he wants to accomplish by the end of this season.
“[I want] to make it in deep into CIF, hopefully state, and definitely run the times that all the schools want so I can get a scholarship next year, and go to the schools I want to go to,” Poonja said.
Track and field has instilled three major lessons in him, all of which he said have helped him become a successful student athlete.
“[One thing I learned is] leadership because we had a really young team, so since sophomore year, I’ve been the captain. So, it’s been really good that I get to step up and be a leader to everybody. Second, I would say discipline because it is hard to balance school and track, to do these workouts and go home and do your homework. Third, I just have to say having fun. It’s a lot of fun and I really enjoy it,” he said.
Poonja, as varsity captain, has also been a role model for the underclassmen on the team.
“He’s been a great influence for the younger kids. He comes out and leads them and runs a lot of drills for us. They all kind of look at him as a leader because they all want to accomplish what he’s accomplished,” Washington said.