By Mackenzie Boucher
Special to southeastconferencema.org
Track is one of the few sports that runs all year round, similar to the sport itself, it’s more about longevity than one-time lucky breaks. It’s also arguably one of the hardest sports to understand. The first thing that comes to mind for a non-track expert is races, but the sport itself is much, much more complicated than getting a fast time. Track and field includes shot puts, vaulting, javelin throwing, variations of jumping, relay, distance running, and racing, making it more of a collection of sports than a single sport; such as soccer or football. But for some athletes, like Dartmouth High School senior captain Serena Carnes, the complicated amalgamation of skills it takes to succeed at track becomes second nature.
Serena has done softball, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, and basketball, but “track is the hardest, yet most rewarding sport” she says, “it is a way to clear your thoughts and be in a better mental state.” She has fully committed to doing track during the winter and spring seasons, cross country in the fall, and occasionally has done the 4×4 relay.
Serena has been part of the track team since freshman year, “I originally had no desire to do track, but my mom encouraged me a lot to do it and try something new.” She looks back at that paramount choice now, “it is one of the best decisions that I made in high school.”
Four years later, she is now captain, acting as a mentor to the team. “As a person, I believe that one of my strongest attributes is my overriding positivity. As a captain, I feel as though my positivity is also one of my strongest attributions to everyday track life.” She leads warmups, and always offers unwavering support to the team, “I truly value making sure everyone feels heard and appreciated.”
As opposed to sports like basketball, where there can only be one Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and the rest of the team is consequently subjected to anonymity, track and field is about lifting each other up, because everyone has to rely on each other to win a meet.
“The motivation from my teammates and coaches, along with the strong desire to better my times in my races, is what truly feeds the love that I have for track. It is the most welcoming and inviting environment, because no matter how you perform, you will always have a smile on your face on the bus ride home because of the support that everyone gives you,” Serena says about the social dynamics of the team.
When the natural pressure of going for gold combines with outside factors, no one is immune to feeling stressed, but Serena attributes her ability to rise above the stress to the encouragement from Coach McCarron-Deely and her teammates. To be on the Dartmouth track team evidently involves having the strength to help others reach their goals, and the humbleness to be helped yourself.
But don’t let the friendly demeanor of DHS track fool you. At its core, track and field is highly competitive, as seen in the rivalry against the Bridgewater-Raynham (B-R) track and field. “B-R has been Dartmouth’s biggest competitor for a long time,” Serena says about the power struggle. “Before our last dual meet on Tuesday (1/24/23), the girls Dartmouth track and field team had only beaten B-R once before, and the boys Dartmouth team had never beaten them before. This meet was by far our biggest and hardest meet of the year, and it came down to the relay races at the end to ultimately win.”
At Coach McCarron’s directions, Serena, “ran around the track spreading out the team and telling them to be as loud as possible because the last relay races were very important,” all part of being captain and biggest cheerleader of her own team.
Serena points to the last meet as being the most important meet of her athletic career. She had the exhaustive task of running the two mile after the one mile race, against their biggest competitor, and the pressure was starkly high. Running the two races took endurance, mental strength, and adrenaline, but in the end her determination rained triumphant and she earned first place, “Our team ended up winning against B-R for the second time ever, becoming Southeastern Conference league champions.”
Serena plans to continue track in college as a club, “I’ve learned so much about myself and that if I can put my mind to something, it is definitely attainable.” Serena thoroughly enjoys track and the sport has taught her that, “trying new things can take you by surprise, and you can start to love them and leave what you’ve known behind,” a lesson that hopefully we all get to experience.