Seabury’s boys track team looks to outrun their opponents for seasons to come

Max Flammer, Staff Writer

The 2018 season for Seabury Hall’s boys track team will be labeled as a success. The team reached heights it has not reached in many years, such as their relay team qualifying for the state tournament in Honolulu.

Looking back on this year’s successful season, the Seabury Hall boys track team needs to replace their brightest star, Isaiah Payne, but with the solid talent left, expect the Spartans to been ahead in the next few years.

My first impression on the Spartans track team came in March. On the first day of spring break, a few friends and I agreed to venture down to War Memorial Stadium to cheer on our peers at a track meet.

One of the last races was boys relays. The 400 meter relay race started, and Seabury already faced a deficit. With a few other teams getting a better start, the pressure was on freshman Jonathan Merchant, who was scheduled as the last runner for the Spartans.

As Merchant took the baton, the Spartans were in fourth place. With what seemed at the time no chance to finish in the top two, Merchant faced a hole that looked too tall to climb out of.

However, watching Merchant took off, something clicked in my head; I instantly noticed how fast of a runner he was and how the gap between Seabury and the other teams shrunk with every stride he took.

Merchant tells the story better than I do: “That race was a while ago, but I remember knowing that I was faster than the two runners in front of me, but the first place runner was too far ahead to catch. As I came down the backstretch, I didn’t think I could catch them, but I gave it me all anyway. They slowed down about 200 meters from the finish line, which allowed me to catch up and pass them. So I guess it was a little bit of luck that helped me catch them, but also pushing myself so when they did slow down, I was in the position to pass.”

It was more than luck: it was pure skill, and everyone in the crowd was mesmerized when they saw Merchant cross the finish line in second place. At that very moment, I knew there was something special about this team.

In past seasons, the Spartans have been placed in a tough draw, an uphill battle that few teams MIL teams can empathize with. Every year there were not a lot of runners on the boys track team. Seabury already has the disservice of being a small school in numbers with only around 450 students, which means there are even fewer runners to draw from.

Newcomers such as freshman Jonathan Merchant, sophomore Kai Preseault, and freshman Flavio Signoretti have added a new team dynamic, which gave the Spartans a realistic chance of rivaling Division One powerhouse schools, such as Baldwin and Maui High.

“Our track team has always been on the small side of the spectrum. The last few seasons have consisted of solely Isaiah [Payne] going to states; however, since we got a few more runners this year, our practices have been a lot more competitive, which has helped us qualify for states,” Preseault pointed out. This year was far different than previous seasons.

Senior standout Payne has been the face boys squad for the last few years. His stellar performances have rewarded him with a college scholarship in track to Seattle University.

Payne highlights what track means to him, “Track means so much to me…it is very special and dear to my heart, and going to college for it means that I can do it for even longer which I love. Track has influenced me through many different ways such as meeting new people, and it has allowed improving my communication skills. It has shaped me to become who I am today: humble and competitive.”

In the past, Payne was one of the only members of the boys team who made it to states. This year, however, the entire relay team qualified for states. The goal of the season came into fruition. At states, the dream ended in disappointment and sadness. Payne hurt his hamstring before the team could compete in the relays, which finished their high season.

Even with a bitter ending, this season was a breakthrough for the Spartans. With the team reaching states, something that they were not accustomed to in the past, the expectations have risen for the up and coming track team. However, with one of the most prolific athletes in MIL history Isaiah Payne graduating, someone needs to fill the hole that he leaves. His younger brother, junior Noah Payne, may be that person.

Next year’s track season doesn’t start for another nine months, but with the disappointing end to the season, motivation is in the air, expect the Seabury boys track team to use that motivation to push through next season.