The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Under Pressure

Two students dominate on the track because of their hard work, discipline and coaches.

Junior Easton Volk is walking out of Shawnee Mission Northwest after school. He’s heading to the track. It’s Tuesday, a “hard day.” He already rolled out his legs with a foam roller before practice started. Volk and his friends start with a quick two miles to warm up. Now stretches. Everyone does the same basic stretches: leg swings, calf raises, back pedals, skips and arm circles, lunges and karaoke. He’s now running 400 meter intervals. 





The running’s over. But they’re not done. It’s a strength day. Now they’re hitting the weights. The sound of the weights clanking echoes throughout the room. 

On Wednesday they do a quick core workout and knock out eight miles.

The day before his meet, he’s eating spinach ravioli for dinner after 800 intervals and more weights. 

It all leads up to this. 

Now it’s Friday. Meet day. Forty-five minutes before Volk’s favorite race, the 800 m, and he’s doing only a mile warm up and quad and hamstring stretches to prepare. He’s now on the track, doing 50 meters. Another 50 meters. And another 50 meters. 

He already ate his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He’s all set.

They’re lining up on the track. Seconds from the gun. “Trust your training,” he said to himself. “Just trust your training.”


And they’re off. He starts off conservatively, saving his energy for the end. He’s thinking of it being over. What’s he going to eat after the meet’s over?

He’s only speeding up to pass people. One person. Two people.

Last 100 meters.

He’s smiling. 

Coach always wants him to be smiling during races. “Even though it hurts a lot, smiling does help,” Volk said. 

Think happy thoughts. 

It’s almost over.

His pace has quickened and he’s racing for the finish line. 


He did it.


It’s the last race of the day. The 4×4.

Francisco Juarez is anchor. Alex Babler is rounding the track, carrying the baton. He’s in first place. Juarez is on his mark, on the tips of his toes as he watches him approach. He’s going to make sure he finishes first too. 

Juarez has eaten rice and steak almost every night since December. Five days a week. Monday through Friday.

He’s worked on holding a long distance sprint pace in practice. And those hurt. But he just gets back on the line and does it again. 

“At the end of the day, that’s what separates you from a champion. You wanna be up there with the dogs.”

But other than a snack this morning, he hasn’t eaten all day, or else he’d get nauseous. 

“I don’t like the idea of like food being in my stomach right before. I just don’t want that feeling. My mouth gets watery and, like, ick,” he said. 

He already did his accelerators. He built up his speed to 70 and 80% of his energy, picking up his knees more and more, each step, hitting the ground harder and faster. 

“We just come out the blocks, make sure that we like how it feels.” 

He grabs the baton from Babler and shoots off down the track. He’s pushing 90-95% of his energy for the first 60 meters. And then he cruises on the back 100 meter stretch. 

Hitting the 200 mark, he takes four hard steps.





Accelerating again, he slingshots out of the 300 curve and he’s praying to God until the end. 

Just hold your form and pray for everything. 

He can’t disappoint the coaches. They’ve put so much into him. He’s got to give back by giving them the time they want. He’s got to meet their expectations, and exceed them too.

“I think you could ask anyone,” Juarez said, “I dominate under pressure.” 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All SMNW Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *