By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– With the rain tapering off to a very heavy mist across the track at North Salem High School Wednesday afternoon, the members of the Viking Track and Field team are taking to it for practice.
With a week until the season starts with a non-league track meet with Gresham at Gresham High School, Head Coach Don Berger is happy with how his team is coming together and how fired up they are.
“Attendance is great. The workouts, the athletes are on fire, we were talking about that during the team meeting today, and they are on a roll,” said Berger. “They’re hungry. Things are going really well.”
The 2016 version of the North Salem runners, hurdlers, jumpers and throwers have a unique combination of veterans and rookies describe Berger with roughly 20 girls on the team are freshman with another 80 total on the guys side.
This mix, one of the squads strengths, will help by providing a way for the older athlete’s to share their successes with the next wave of Viking Track and Field-sters.
To leave their legacy of sorts.
“It’s really important because what you want is your older athlete’s sharing, coaching and teaching the young guys people,” said Berger. “So they’re legacy goes on after they go on.”
Of the upper-classmen to leave their mark behind are Seniors Abraham Rodriquez and Daisy Sierra.
The message: To be respectful, have good character and come together as a team.
“The legacy that Berger talks about, we try to maintain for them is to have good character, have good integrity, be respectful to your peers obviously,” said Sierra. “Don’t disrespect your teachers, coaches or your peers.
“You put other people ahead of you and you just work together and push each other to be the best. It’s more of a family thing.”
Rodriquez, who competed at the State Tournament as a junior in 2015 in the 110-meter hurdles, knows that those before him helped pave the road for him to be successful; and now as a senior, he’s doing the same for the next generation.
“I started off just like everyone else and through hard work and what people taught me,” started Rodriquez. “My leaders, my captains, they’re the ones that helped me get where I was because they showed me a lot of new skills and they saw the potential in me
“They helped me to get where I was and now I’m here and I’m going to help the new generation My team knows what I do and what I did to get there, so I kind of use it to as a example as to what working hard can get you.”
With the season days away with the Gophers on deck, expectations and goals are high to use last year’s momentum for 2016 behind their strong leadership and sportsmanship traits.
“We think both the boys and girls will finish in the top half of the league and send several athlete’s to state,” said Berger.
2016 SCHEDULE (PER ATHLETIC.NET)
Thu, Mar 17 North Salem @Gresham
Wed, Mar 30 GVC 5-Way
Wed, Apr 6 Forest Grove at North Salem
Sat, Apr 9 Jim Robinson Bigfoot Pepsi’s Twilight Invitational @RHS
Fri, Apr 15 Viking Relays: Twilight Invitational
Wed, Apr 20 West Albany at North Salem
Sat, Apr 23 52nd Centennial Invitational
Wed, Apr 27 North Salem at McKay
Fri, Apr 29 Rob Allen Twilight Invitational
Wed, May 4 North Salem at McNary
Fri, May 6 JV Bash
Thu, May 12 Greater Valley Conference Championships
Fri, May 13 Greater Valley Conference Championships
Fri, May 20-
Sat, May 21 OSAA 6A State Championships
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81