Tag Archives: high school track

Tripling the #2 Son’s Track Fun!

The triple jump starts with a sprint down the runway.

Some busybody (cough *his mom* cough) tattled on my #2 son after his first high school track meet. She told his coach that he used to triple jump in middle school. The freshmen boys only had one triple jumper, Kenton (who now isn’t jumping due to knee pain), so guess who got to add a field event to his running events for the third meet?

Maybe I’ll get thanked when he’s triple jumping in the Olympics some day . . . or maybe I’ll be blamed for how it ruined his life when he’s on Dr. Phil!

The triple jump hop

When you tell non-trackies that your son is a triple jumper, they invariably look confused. So then you have to explain that it’s like the long jump but with a hop, step/skip, and a jump before the athlete lands in the sand pit.

The step

For a photographer, the whole process makes for a great sports photo; however, it happens very quickly. Once again, burst mode is your BFF in trying to capture all the action.

On his way to the jump phase

It’s also a challenge to keep the triple jumper in focus, because the athlete literally jumps from one focus point (in the middle) to another (high) and finally to another (back to the middle on the landing).

Houston, we’re cleared for liftoff!

While I was snapping away, I wanted to yell to my #2 son to keep his hands away from his face! Don’t ruin my photo!

I didn’t, because I didn’t want to meddle (ha ha!).

Raise your hands if you’re Sure!

The top triple and long jumpers seem to hang in the air for the longest time. #2’s hang time isn’t quite as impressive, but he does get a lot of air.

Preparing for a pinpoint landing

Of course, what goes up must come down. You just hope it’s further than any of your competitors.

The Bulldog has landed!

The #2 son was hesitant to tell his coach that he could triple jump, because he wasn’t very successful in middle school and didn’t think he had improved. However, in his first two meets, he placed third and then second! More importantly, he increased the length of his jumps since he was an eighth-grader by about three feet (his best now is 35 feet 7 inches).

Good thing he has a meddling mom in his corner!

The 4 x 400-Meter Relay . . . the Fat Lady Sings!

#2 warms up for the 4 x 400-meter relay by getting some air.

When the #2 son told me how well he had run a 400-meter time trial, finishing as the second-fastest freshman, I really tried to be happy for him. Really.

I slapped on my best fake smile and told him how proud I was of him. Then I turned away and rolled my eyes. Because I knew what breaking a minute in the open 400 meant: The boy would be put on the 4 x 400-meter relay team. As in the final event of the high school track meet. As in the Mister and I would have to freeze until that fat lady sings. Well, if opera was a track event, of course.

Last night was another cold, blustery junior varsity track meet. For a change, there wasn’t any security keeping the momarazzi away. Which meant I could be next to the track for the 4 x 400 relay. Hey, if I’m stuck at a meet until the bitter end, I at least should be able to get some good photos. Of course, by this time it was 7 p.m. and dark. I had switched from my Nikon 70-200mm lens to the 85mm to let in as much light as possible. Still, my ISO was set at 2000 in order to keep a fast-enough shutter speed to avoid blur.

My strategy was to snap pics of the #2 son in and out of the blocks and then hustle my considerable bustle to the exchange zone to try to capture the handoff to his teammate Nick. In less than a minute. Here’s the result:

#2 is in the blocks and eyes the starter.

The gun is up, and the runners are ready.

Out of the blocks and ready to rumble down the track!

Leg #1 is underway!

#2 stretches out and gets the baton to Nick.

Is that singing I hear?!?

Got Air?

Cody (left) sails through the air during the 3200 meters.

Need air? It’s everywhere at your local high school track meet.

Jordan speeds along during the 3200.

Running? Yep, there’s air. Photographers love to capture runners when both feet are off the track.

Reid goes airborne in the 1600 meters.

Makes it look like they’re floating on air!

While Tim runs in the air, one of his competitors comes down to earth during the 100 meters.

Air is apparent whether it’s a longer event, like the 1600 and 3200 meters, or the 100-meter dash.

Josh and his competitors fly through the 100 meters.

It does seem like the sprinters are up in the air more than they are on the track!

Derrick glides along during the first leg of the 4 x 100-meter relay.

There’s no shortage of air during the relays. Either while running . . .

Owen soars as he prepares to hand off to an airborne Justin in the 4 x 200-meter relay.

. . . or about to hand off. If only style points could be awarded!

Kenton flies over land and sand!

Some of our competitors fly above a couple of surfaces. Kenton’s personal air show was in the 4 x 400-meter relay and the long jump.

Kmal sends the shot flying.

Sometimes an athlete stays on the ground only to hurtle an object into space. Like the shot put. Lots of air there!

Of course, for me as a mom photographer, the best feat of the feet . . .

The #2 son airs it out during the 800 meters.

. . . are centered around the 10 toes of my #2 son. Especially when they’re flying through the air with the greatest of ease!

Wimps, Whiners, and Weenies, Oh My!

The weekly Houston weather forecast

This has been a brutal winter in the Houston area, and I’ve hated it. Hate, hate, hate the cold! Hate, hate, hate the north winds! Wind chill is for northerners, not southerners!

The weekly Chicago weather forecast

I lived in the Chicago area for the first 30 years of my life, and I had to put up with the cold and wind chill, not to mention the ice and snow. That’s just part of the Midwestern winter package. I didn’t like it, but I accepted it, because, hey, it’s cold up north!

But now I’ve lived in the south for the last 26 years, and mild winters are the best part of the weather experience (which almost make up for our sometimes unbearable summers). I’ve loved our temperate southeast Texas climate. I look forward to those nice temps while sweating through the summer and early fall.

But this year something has changed. For the worse! It seems that the Houston area has been mired in damp, chilly weather this entire winter . . . and it’s not about to end any time soon.

According to the “Houston Chronicle’s” science writer, Eric Berger, I’m not imagining things. Here’s what he had to say in his blog:

Consider last February in Houston, when 21 of the month’s 28 days had high temperatures of 70 degrees or above, and there was not one night of freezing temperatures. On three days temperatures topped out in the 80s.

Contrast that with this February, when we’ve had just one—just one!—day when temperatures reached 70 degrees. And so far there have been four freezes.

For people who know Houston weather, this winter has felt really cold.

The #2 son (second from the left) and his teammates keep warm at last night’s track meet.

My friends and family from up north have scoffed at our cold-weather complaints on Facebook. They think we’re just wimps, whiners, and weenies. Hey, I’m not arguing! Yes, we are! Of course, they’d feel the same way during August here.

It all means that, like it or not, we’ve had to adapt and pull on our warmer clothes . . . lots of them! Take last night’s high school junior varsity track meet. As I said in Tuesday’s blog post, I would learn from freezing at the first meet and dress more warmly. Which I did! I layered my warm Cuddl Duds under my sweatpants and sweatshirt. Added my warmest jacket, complete with a stylish hood, and I felt pretty toasty once the sun went down.

Except for my hands. I can’t use gloves when I shoot, so I mostly suffered in silence. Except when someone came close enough. Then I complained. A lot.

Tori stays warmer than her teammates.

Meanwhile, our athletes tried to stay as warm as possible before having to brave the wind-chilled 40ish temps in their shorts and singlets.

Jasmine rocks the Bratz girls blanket.

At least the kids were on the move, which helped them keep warmer.

Terry keeps his ears warm as he watches through the fence.

The parents were mostly huddled together along the fence . . .

Jimmy and Karen join the Mister on the cold bleachers.

. . . or on those frosty cold aluminum bleachers. Doesn’t the Mister look thrilled? I didn’t dare attempt a thought bubble!

Unfortunately for us, the track meet dragged on and on and on, because there were 13 teams. With all those freshmen boys and junior varsity girls and boys, that made for at least five heats for most of the events. And we had to stay until the end, because our #2 son was running in the 4 x 400-meter relay . . . the very last race. Weren’t we lucky? No, we didn’t think so either.

The meet wasn’t over until almost 10 p.m. On a school night!

By the end of the evening . . .

. . . we all felt like curling up in a blanket in the fetal position! Whining all the way!!

Hurdling All Photographic Obstacles

A good angle and height for capturing junior varsity 110 hurdle action.

When you’re an amateur like me trying to take photos of high school sporting events, one aspect is of utmost importance: Location, location location. Just like in real estate. The closer you can get to the action (without being in harm’s way, of course), the better your pictures probably will be.

Too bad the school district’s security officers don’t agree with me! Their job is to keep nonathletes away from the court and track. Hey, I wear running shoes when I shoot; don’t I at least look athletic?

Sometimes you just have to take the space that you’re given and make lemonade out of those lemons. Last week when I shot at our high school’s junior varsity and varsity track meets, I became proficient at squeezing that yellow citrus fruit.

Our team's athlete reaches the hurdle first and is more visible at this angle.

For the freshmen 110 hurdles at our home track, I went into the nearly empty stands and aimed my Nikon 70-200mm lens downwards and at an angle.

The two JV hurdlers are almost side by side.

I was able to capture the action at two sets of hurdles. You can see the difference in how both athletes were brought into focus.

Parallel to the first varsity 110 hurdle

Two days later at the varsity meet, my location was at a low fence near the starting area of the 100 meters and 100/110 hurdles. I didn’t want to block the view of people in the stands, so I decided to drink my cold lemonade and use my 70-200mm lens right there.

Burst mode is your BFF when shooting hurdles, because you never know when you’ll capture the peak of the action. When I looked at the photos on my iMac, all of them from a burst series intrigued me. Here they are with no commercial interruption:

Photo #1: The approach

#2: The leap of faith

#3: Up and over

#4: On their way to the next hurdle

And then there’s the aftermath. No surprise since they’re males. I live with three guys. If mine aren’t the messiest in the world, I don’t want to meet the messiest! But I think that these hurdlers can give them a run (pun intended!) for their money.

Pick up this mess!

Do you guys want some lemonade?

Jumping Jehosaphat!

Up and over the bar in the pole vault!

Last week’s high school junior varsity track meet also featured our girls’ team. For them, the freshmen don’t have their own division, like the boys do, because there just aren’t enough girls. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not in it to win it!

Jasmine leaps in the triple jump.

I concentrated on shooting some of the field events, because I knew a couple of the girls who were competing.

Cori takes off and glides through the air during the triple jump.

You might remember Cori and Tori (ironic rhyming!) from this blog post about their JV basketball travails.

She extends and is about to stick the landing!

They both compete in the triple jump, and it was fun trying to capture them photographically as they flew through the air.

Tori begins her trip over the high jump bar.

Tori also high jumps. Knowing she had at least three attempts, I tried different angles in documenting her efforts.

Tori springs up.

This angle made for a messier background (I’m glad the Nikon 70-200mm lens wide open at f/2.8 provides such wonderful bokeh!). But it was best for seeing her face, as she strained to jump over the bar.

Up and over . . . while the bar stays put!

Tori might like this angle best . . . because it shows her winning jump!

Leaping lizards . . . and Bulldogs!

Let There Be Light—At a Track Meet

The competition, including the #2 son in the middle, stays close during the first lap of the 800 meters.

Remember last Friday’s post in which a British reviewer of the movie “Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief” claimed I was dim-witted?

Sidebar: I’ll wait while you re-read/read it; check out the 12th and 13th paragraphs. Ready to continue?

Apparently, Christopher Tookey was right . . . when it comes to photographing track meets.

Abhi shows his emotion as he runs to a win in the junior-varsity 800 meters.

After spending two years documenting the highs and lows of my #2 son during middle school track meets, you’d think I’d remember one basic principle of late winter/early spring in the Houston area: When the sun sets, it gets very cold. Multiple-jacket cold. Wish-you-had-a-blanket-and-the-Mister-to-cuddle-with cold.

Justin battles in the inside lane during the jv 100-meter dash.

I always take the lesson to heart . . . by the second meet. And I always forget it for the first one, leaving bruises on my freezing behind from kicking myself for only wearing one lightweight jacket. And a short-sleeve t-shirt. When will I learn?

As you can gather from the photos, high school track season has started for #2. He’s running in the freshmen division during junior varsity meets. In middle school he was a sprinter. Now he’s moved up to the 800 meters.

The light shines on the #2 son during the 800 meters.

#2 had a great debut at a distance he’d never competed at, finishing second in 2:23 (the winner, who is to his left, blew away the field in 2:09) at last week’s Bulldog Relays. Of course, I snapped a bunch of pix. When I was looking at the above photo on my iMac, I was struck by how the sun’s light seems to be striking only my boy. What a lucky photo break!

Reid is poised for his second-place finish in the freshmen 3200 meters.

But then I saw it again when I looked at photos of Reid . . .

Cody stays close to his running rival in the freshmen 3200 meters.

. . . and Cody in the 3200 meters. Perhaps something was, dare I say it, afoot?!?

Josh takes an early lead in the jv 3200.

Maybe it was just this part of the track that favored our athletes’ illumination.

Nick shines brightly during the jv 3200.

It seemed uncanny how the light shone only on our runners!

Owen stretches to hand off to Christian in the jv 4 x 100-meter relay.

The light seemed to follow our runners down the track.

Christian runs the curve during the 4 x 100-meter relay.

Great light for those who are light on their feet! Photography is all about light, and I loved what I had to work with.

Until the sun set. And it got dark. And cold. Very cold. Soon I had to increase my shutter speed to compensate for shiver-induced blur. That meant it was time to put my Nikon D700 and Nikon 70-200mm lens away and try to gather warmth from the small but hardy band of freshmen parents sitting in the stands. Yes, on aluminum bleachers. Frosty aluminum bleachers.

The team’s next meet is Thursday, when the expected high is 60 with a low in the mid-40s. I will be better prepared! I’m off to look for my long underwear!