City conducts annual fifth-grade track meet at Monterey

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

— Adrenaline fueled Avion Goodwin's flight over the high jump.

Good sportsmanship fueled his cheers for students from other schools.

Rachel Van Beek did OK in the softball-throwing event.

She was a standout in the noncompetitive category of encouraging others.

On Tuesday, the Janesville School District held the 86th annual fifth-grade track meet at Monterey Stadium near Wilson Elementary School. Today, the fourth-graders will take the field for their annual meet.

Events included high jump, long jump, 50-yard dash, medicine ball throw, hurdles, softball throw and 400-meter relay races.

The meets serve two purposes.

First, kids learn all the track and field basics—with some modifications for contestant size and safety.

Second, kids learn about sportsmanship, teamwork and character education, said physical education teachers Cindy Deuth and Brenda Wenzel.

How do you be a good winner? How do you be a good loser?

"We role-play these things at school," said Wenzel, who teaches at Lincoln Elementary.

Students also learn what it's like to be a competitor, both with themselves and others.

Avion, 11, attends Lincoln Elementary. In school, his best high jump was 3 feet 9 inches. On Tuesday, he sailed to 4 feet 1 inch, an 8.8 percent improvement.

"I think it was the adrenaline," said Avion, who also competed in the 50-yard dash. Although Avion is the fastest in his class, he came in fifth in the 50-yard dash.

Avion and his friend, Mauriceo Mangruem, 10, were cheering on kids from other Lincoln fifth-grade classes.

"Dominic is the fastest in our school," Avion said, pointing out a tow-headed boy who was burning up the track.

Mauriceo competed in a variety of events, including hurdles. He explained the technique.

"You've got to get your knee above the bar or else you'll trip," he said.

Both boys want to be in track and field when they get to middle and high school.

Rachel, 10, did well enough to win a ribbon in the softball throw, but she wasn't first.

As the record keepers tallied up the results, she looked around at her fellow competitors and said, "Good job, everybody."

It was said naturally, without condensation or self-consciousness.

Later, Rachel said that she was both nervous and excited about competing.

"I don't care if I get a ribbon or not, I just really want to have fun," she said.

Of course, Rachel is a girl who likes difficult things, just for the challenge.

She's interested in competing in track and field, but what she would really like to do is be on a swim team like her sister, Joelie Van Beek.

Front crawl is her best stroke but she loves butterfly, the most physically taxing and technically difficult.

When she butterflies across the pool, she comes up exhausted but feeling like she's really accomplished something.

"It's fun," she said.

After a thoughtful pause she added, "If I believe in myself, I can do better."

Last updated: 10:33 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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