For most kids, the end of the school year and summer means spending time goofing off, doing whatever it is they want without getting fussed at over not doing homework or playing too many video games.
But for some Parker County youth, summer means it’s Mach 1 track club time.
For the 25th consecutive year, the Mach 1 track club is competing in everything from sprints to high jumps at meets around the state. Students from 8-18 come from all over Parker County just to participate.
Coach Lupe Torres said about 50 kids usually sign up and a core of about 25 show up regularly to practice and compete.
“They enjoy it and they come to practice,” he said. “They don’t like the torture of practice but they know it helps them in the meets.”
Elliott Lancaster, a senior at Weatherford High School, participates in the long jump. This is his sixth year in Mach 1 and he said he loves the competition, among other things.
“I can’t compete after this year so I love being able to train and volunteer,” he said. “It’s a win-win for me.”
Kaden Hendrix, who competes in the 13-14 year-old age group in both 100-meter hurdles and long jump, has been in the club three years. He said it’s “fun” for him.
“There is a lot of competition and it’s fun to do in the summer,” he said.
Hendrix is a member of the Weatherford track and baseball teams but said he is a fan of all sports.
Matthew Gray, 14, has been in the group for five years and competes in high jump and hurdles. He said Mach 1 keeps him on pace for playing football and baseball in the fall.
“I just really love to do it,” he said. “It’s fun and helps keep me in shape.”
Sign-ups for the season begin in late April and the season begins in May and continues through July. Torres said referrals come in from “all over the area” and from the kids who bring other ones with them to participate.
This weekend, the team will be competing in Springtown at the USA Track and Field Association Meet, followed by the regional qualifying meet.
Torres said Mach I, as well as the other track clubs around the state, are excited about this year’s U.S. Junior Olympics Meet, to be held July 21-27 at Humble’s Turner Stadium.
“It’s really exciting that it’s so close to us this time,” he said.
As for why the kids will run, jump and practice in the often brutal Texas summer, Torres said he thinks he knows the answer.
“We’re like one big family,” he said. “The kids actually get sad when the season ends.”
Results from Start to Finish Track Meet:
Boys - 3,000 meters, Branden Torres, 2nd, 14:53, 11-12 age group; 800m, Jared Steele, 1st, 2:03 (personal best), 15-16 age group; high jump, Robert Eaton, 3rd, 13-14 age group, 4-foot-4.
Girls - 3,000m, 1, Sadie Tharp, 12:04; 2, Amelia Ingram, 12:25, 11-12 year old), Gracie Morris, 1st, Graydon Morris, 2nd (13-14 age group), and Britney Torres, 3rd, 15-16 age group; 800m, Jessie Steele, 1st, 2:25 (personal best), 13-14 age group; 1500m, Gracie Morris, 1st, 5:09; Jessie Steele, 2nd, 5:12; long jump, Kadee Kelly, 2nd, 13-foot-2, 11-12 age group; and high jump, Francine Merchant, 1st, 4-foot-10, 13-14 age group.