“I wish I’d been more in the moment,” commented Jaden Young, the second female runner in Woodland history to qualify for the New England’s Track and Field meet. “…[There] was a lot going on, [and] I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I do now, especially because it was probably my last race of the year.”
Jaden Young is experiencing a newfound respect and replenished love for her sport, something her fellow high school athletes may be able to relate to. During the indoor track NVL season, Young placed in first or second place consistently. She hit the qualifying time for the State meet during her first meet, and continued to advance to the New England’s meet. From States onward, only the top runners advance based on the fastest times in the meet. According to Young, after times from the main season qualify runners for the State meet, the top five runners from States advance to State Opens, and the top six runners from State Opens advance to New England’s. What heat the participant runs in does not matter as long as they place as one of the best in that event; for example, a runner in heat two could beat a runner in heat one if they ran a faster time.
When the indoor track season began, Young was especially excited after her cross-country season, which didn’t go as well as she’d hoped.
“I ended my cross-country season on a low note, and it was hard to come back from that,” she said. Young was disappointed with her performance in her final meet of the cross-country season, but she was able to use her failures for motivation. “It was probably the worst meet I’ve ever had,” Young said, “but I wouldn’t take it back because it really defined me as an athlete.”
Heading into the indoor track season with an open mind, Young set a new personal record almost every meet in the 1000m. Young scored a 3:07.32 at the Naugatuck Valley League Indoor TF Championships (NVLs), as well as one of her favorite memories with her teammates.
“That was a really team-oriented moment,” Young recalled. “There was a lot of pressure for us to win again, so we all worked together…. It was out of my comfort zone, because I was running so many [events]…. Everybody was medalling, and setting [personal records], so it was just a really good night.”
Needless to say, the girl’s Woodland indoor track team did win NVLs again, for the ninth year consecutively. Young PR’ed in the 3200, and made All NVL in the 1000m and as part of her 4 x 400m relay team. Young’s teammates have been a reliable support system for her, even going so far as to drive to Boston to support her at the New England’s meet, and they will continue to be so throughout the rest of her journey.
“We’re really encouraging to each other,” Young said. “Emma [Slavin] and Chloe [Poulos] always send each other texts…and we go for weekend runs, and some of my other teammates do that too, like Jill [Brotherton] and Jade [Brennan].”
At States, the CIAC Combined Class S Championships, Young set her current PR for the 100
0m at 3:03.58. At State Opens, the CIAC Combined State Open Championships, Young timed in at 3:04.54, qualifying for New England’s by fractions of a second.
“I was excited about that,” Young commented, “because I was just hoping to get 6th, but if there’s someone there and I can get ‘em…”
Young placed 5th in State Opens. Surrounded by family and friends, she saw her time flash across the scoreboard and realized that she had qualified for New England’s.
“I was really excited,” Young said. “That was a goal I’d had for a while, but it was really exciting because I’ve never gone that far before, and I thought it was cool to travel to Boston for a meet.”
At the New England meet, also called the 33rd New England Interscholastic Championships, Young was placed in the second heat for the 1000m, and placed 10th overall with a time of 3:04.90.
“It was a lot going on, and I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I do now, especially because it was probably my last race of the year,” Young said. “I always look for how I can do better, and this made me want to live in the moment more.”
Young has been reflecting on her success during the indoor season even more, because there is no outdoor track season to prepare for. Because of the Coronavirus, the CIAC cancelled spring sports seasons as a safety precaution, and while Young is disappointed, she now realizes the importance of recognizing opportunities in the moment.
“I wish I’d been more in the moment, because I’m always trying to figure out how I can be better as an athlete,” Young reflected. “I need to appreciate the little things, like the jokes we make in practice…I’m always thinking of what I want to do next, and [I need to] just be in the race now and appreciate where that got me.”