EUGENE, Ore. -- The South Eugene track and field senior class is special. Much like every other senior class in the country, the Axe didn’t get an opportunity to finish what they started.
“We are lucky because running is a pretty individual sport. Despite not having an official season we were still able to do some hard work and do some timed trials. We enjoyed that,” said Nate Tavakolian.
That’s the beauty of track and field: the ability to compete with yourself. Despite an absent senior campaign, these four South Eugene track stars still have the memories to overshadow that empty lost season.
“Probably the bus rides back are the most fun because if you have a good race, the mood is so upbeat and hyped,” said Miles Lehman-Wintrs.
“Some of my favorite memories come from training honestly,” Tavakolian said. “Just getting out here and doing workouts with my teammates.”
These teammates come out of state. Two of the four seniors moved to Eugene at the start of their high school careers.
“One of the first memories I have from moving here is coming out to the track and meeting the hurdle coach and the current athletes,” said Taylor Chocek.
“When I first got here I was really nervous to be on the team. But I soon realized it was such a great community of runners,” Lehman-Wintrs said. “I met a lot of new people and I have had a really good time since then.”
Good times run deep with the South Eugene girls team, as they won a 6A state championship in 2019. Something the Axe haven’t done in 40 years.
“I kept feeling that high for like two months after that. It’s sad that we couldn’t get to defend that this year but I know I’ll have that with me forever,” said Maddy Elmore.
It’s off to greener pastures for these four, literally. Tavakolian will compete at Princeton. Elmore, Lehman-Wintrs and Chocek will be running across the street as Oregon Ducks.
“It’s just been a dream school since elementary school really. My mom did the heptathlon at Oregon. So it’s always been the end goal,” said Chocek.
“This is the worst time in my life to leave Eugene,” said Elmore. “Why would I leave when they are building Hayward Field and this incredible program?”
"I can't really explain why I want to do it so much but I think it's because I love the sport and it's something I want to continue to do,” said Lehman-Wintrs.
We all want to do what we love for as long as possible. For these four it just happens to be on the track.