SJVA track team hits the road in July, warming up for the 2018-19 season
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
Now that summer is here, the high school sports teams get a break… Right? WRONG. At least at San Jacinto Valley Academy, the track team is staying right on its toes. Literally.
Head Coach Shok Siaki Lesa says the 2017-18 season has been a season of new highs for the track team, including more personal records and more players going to CIF meets and beyond. “We went further this year with a couple of kids,” Lesa said.
Also worth noting is that SJVA is the reigning Warrior League champions in track and field. And the Wolfpack is showing no signs of slowing down according to Lesa: “We’re going to UCI (Irvine)… we’ll be able to help out some of our sprinters and also our throwers. The coach there… her dad is a former olympian.”
The Wolfpack makes its way to Irvine from July 16-20.
In charge of coordinating and getting to these meets is Assistant Coach Bob Summers. Summers has two decades of experience coaching, attending training camps with students and coordinating track meets. He previously coached at Yucaipa, as a matter of fact. “I’ve been to quite a few of them!” he says.
SJVA Athletic Director Charles ‘Charlie’ Ilardi says his time with the track team has been a learning experience: “I really had a very limited background in track & field. I really had to lean on my coaching staff to help me develop an understanding of everything that goes into the program. Thankfully, San Jacinto Valley Academy has been extremely supportive in developing our sports programs, so when my coaches come to me with a list of equipment that they feel they need to help improve the program, we are able to get all their purchases approved and ordered in a timely fashion.”
According to Ilardi, high school athletics at most schools are given 1-2 percent of the total budget, and there can be difficulty in getting new equipment ordered without breaking the bank. “However, at SJVA my coaches know that if they need something that will benefit our student-athletes and they have a plan of how to implement it, we will get it for them.”
Even though she’s now an SJVA alum, past teammate Kalianna Lesa (coach Lesa’s daughter) is still helping out around the wolf den before sprinting to the UC Riverside campus for the fall semester. To her teammates she says, “Just keep at it and don’t be afraid to put in that extra work after practice. Because, really, that’s what’s going to set you apart from all those other athletes who are competing.”
Kalianna has quite the record to uphold at UCR, being a two-year medalist for SJVA. She thanks her dad/coach for keeping on her about practice, as well as the rest of the SJVA athletic staff.
A newer teammate, Junior Josiah Adams has only been on the team a year but has learned to balance his time between track and school: “Track helped me condition and get ready for football this year.”
Oh yes, Adams will be playing football for SJVA in the fall.
But will the Wolfpack be able to dominate in new territory in 2019? This coming school year, SJVA will be joining the South Valley League with Nuview Bridge, Calvary Murrieta and California Military Institute.
“This league will be a step up in competition from previous years, but we believe that the participating schools have similar values to our schools athletic program and are comparable in talent level of our student-athletes,” according to Ilardi. “We are looking forward to the opportunity to continue to challenge our student-athletes to compete at higher levels, with the hopes of being able to develop all of our sports programs to the point that we can advance further in CIF and set new standards for academic preparatory schools across the country.”
SJVA is already known in the valley for setting high standards, so we shall see how far they get this year.