“Hannah was a competitive gymnast and I’m seeing the dedication and will she has in this sport,” says Lucas, who at age 36 is still sprinting competitively. “She doesn’t fall on the track. Some runners, after the conclusion of the race, fall down from the lactic acid in their legs and roll on the ground (from the pain). She doesn’t give in. Even with the boys, you see Hannah rival them.”
Lucas is expressive with his words and his body movements in his energy for the sport. He crouched alongside his sophomore sprinter as he coached her on her starts before an early-season tri-meet at La Jolla High against the Vikings and Country Day or “the Battle of La Jolla.”
“He’s already taught me so much, and I’ve only been working with him so far this spring a short time,” gushed Young about her sprints coach.
The trio of male sprinters, making up part of the shorter-distance unit of head coach Rodney Jones’ track and field squad, include freshman Clarence Freeman, junior Mozes Mooney, and freshman Amaan Banks.
“We had (Freeman) in middle school,” says Lucas. “I see the transition each year. He takes the role of a sophomore or junior (though he’s only a freshman).
“Clarence does well in all the drills. He doesn’t cower. He has perseverance. I would like that to rub off on all our athletes.”
Mooney, a star wide receiver, and cornerback on the Bishop’s CIF San Diego Section and Southern California Regional champion football team last fall, is going out for track for the first time in his junior year. “Oh, my,” says Lucas. “His talent is uncapped. It’s unlimited. He has so much natural ability. If I had his speed as a youth…
“He’s very quiet and mild-mannered. He’s very focused. Today in the 4x100 relay (in the tri-meet against Country Day and La Jolla High) he didn’t tense up.”
Says Jones, the fifth-year head coach, “The drive, the determination that he has, I’m sure he will be successful.”
Coach David Silva is also a sprints coach for the Knights. Jones, Lucas, and he all work together with a non-profit called San Diego Blessed, running for children and teens ages 4 to 18. These are coaches who go beyond the minimum. They are not out there for the stipend, that’s for sure.
“We’re a young team” overall, says Jones, who also helps coach football at Bishop’s from “time-to-time.” “We’ve got about six seniors on the team. All the rest are freshmen and sophomores. Actually, they’re pretty talented. It’s real promising for the young athletes. I’m excited about their performance” (in the opening competition with La Jolla and Country Day).
Jett Liu is a four-year distance runner. “He has always excelled in the mile and two-mile (equivalents for the 1600 and 3200 meters, respectively),” says Jones.
“He’s got great leadership with the distance group. They look up to him as their leader. He’s never putting them down. He’s always encouraging them. I could never run the two-mile (when I was a student), but if I had a leader like that, I probably would have stayed.”
Liu ran the 1600 meters in 5:13.07. Two days later, at the Mt. Carmel Invitational, he set a new school record at 4:56.76.
Every year for four years straight, the senior has set a new school record in the event: As a freshman three years ago, Liu ran 4:59.2. Then, a year later, he bettered his school record at the Coastal Conference finals with a time of 4:53.46. Last year, Liu’s record mark was 4:54.21.
In the 3200 as a junior, he ran a personal record of 10:31.07, again in the conference finals.
“It’s exciting that they (his athletes) had such a good outing to open the season,” said the head coach. “We had a couple of rainouts last week.”
Senior Brian Donnelly runs the 300-meter hurdles, “but we put him in an 800-meter run (at La Jolla), which is unforgivable,” chuckled the good-natured Jones. “We’re trying to build up his strength, and the determination he showed was excellent. I probably would have stopped after the first lap, but he’s willing to go the next step. He’s willing to do what the coaches say, even though he can’t see the (immediate) result.”
He registered a time of 2:34.01 in his 800-meter frolic. In the 300-meter hurdles, Donnelly holds a PR of 44.42 seconds. His PR in the 110-meter hurdles is 18.04 seconds.
“Track and field is the kind of individual sport where you develop according to the amount of time you spend on the track,” observed Jones. “I have such a good group of kids at Bishop’s. I try to make sure they are having a good time. I want good, friendly sportsmanship and development.”