I am one of those people that doesn’t understand how someone gets into the field part of Track & Field. Why do you decide that you are going to start throwing the hammer or the javelin? I’m pretty sure those are two things that you don’t just stumble across in an athletic shed. And the pole vault? It’s not normal for someone to lift and propel their body to ridiculous heights using a long, skinny, flimsy looking pole.
Even though I don’t understand how he got into the sport, my good friend Tyler Ruiz is a jumper for USC’s track and field team. His main event is the high jump, but he also competes in the long jump.
Tyler comes over to our apartment every day after practice, usually with ice on his shins, and tells us about the countless squats he’s just done, or the sprints he ran, or how high he jumped that day. On Saturday at the USC versus UCLA dual track and field meet I was finally able to see what all those grueling workouts he talked about were for.
I didn’t know many people went to the track meets, but when we got to Cromwell Field the bleachers were packed. I sat down next to this woman who had this massive umbrella to block the sun and it kept poking me in the head. It was also blocking the sun from reaching my left side so I thought I would get this ridiculously uneven tan. It was extremely irritating.
Since I have never been to a college track meet, I was surprised by how hectic it was. Athletes were walking around everywhere, a gun was going off, women were sprinting along the track while someone else was throwing the shot put, and a guy was running with a long pole. All the commotion was cool though because there was always some event going on or you could watch some athlete warming up.
So while we were waiting for the high jump competition we watched some hurdling events. I was amazed at how fast and graceful the athletes were. They didn’t even look like they were breaking their stride when they went over a hurdle! I’m pretty sure if I tried to get over one I would get stuck on top. Actually, it’s wishful thinking to even think I could get above the hurdle. I would probably just kick it and then hop over.
At one point I was listening to the group next to me predict who was going to win this other race where there was only one blonde girl competing. One girl said, “I’m going for 4”, a guy said, “nah, 3 cuz she got a booty”, and then this one woman said, “No, the blonde girl is going to win because blondes always win”. I’m blonde so obviously I appreciated her logic, faulty as it might be. Too bad the blonde girl lost.
Then it was time for Tyler’s high jump event. Before the long jumper starts running, he starts a clap and the audience claps along with him throughout his jump. When there are so many events going on simultaneously people don’t watch the same thing so the audience’s cheers aren’t very cohesive. This clap I thought that was really cool because it brought attention to his jump and everyone in the audience clapped together to cheer him on. We also had a mini fan club going on, so we were pretty loud.
Tyler barely had to jump to get over the bar at 6’2, he got over 6’8 easily, and he launched himself over 6’11. After reaching 6’11 he turned to us and gave a little fist pump and we went crazy. He didn’t make it over 7’0, but 6’11 is one of his higher jumps so he was pretty happy.
The USC women’s team won the dual meet for the 4th consecutive year, but unfortunately the men’s team lost to UCLA, ending their two-year winning streak. Tyler left the meet disappointed at our team’s loss but pretty happy with his second place finish in the high jump. My roommates and I, however, all left with wicked sunburns. I kind of wish I’d stayed by that lady’s annoying umbrella.