They are only a month and a half into their high school careers, and five young Scotties are already making strides on the track.
Jacqueline Hammack and Gabriel Goossens are just two of the freshmen currently running varsity on Helix’s cross country teams. The other ninth graders that make up those varsity spots are Ariana Adamson, Amya Jones, and Reina Oliver.
Helix’s Athletic Director, Damon Chase, commented that the determination of athlete eligibility relies almost solely on the skill basis of the freshmen, and in some cases, their age. So, these freshmen put in the extra work to be recognized as exceptional by head cross country coach Babey Wagnew.
Chase also believes that as more freshmen enter Helix already excelling in their sport, “our programs become stronger. If you have a nucleus of students that start at the varsity level, it certainly lends itself to a better team as they progress throughout their high school years…When you have a young team and that team stays together and goes all the way through, those are the teams that win championships at the CIF level,” he said.
Luckily, neither Hammack nor Goossens were new to running coming into the Helix program. Hammack previously ran track and field, while Goossens got into running during his years in middle school.
Both Hammack and Goossens also had the motivation to keep their skill sets within the family, as older brothers Joey Hammack (℅ 2017) and Joshua Goossens (℅ 2018) also run in the varsity meets.
Hammack stated, “I really wanted to make varsity, because it’s my brother’s last year [at Helix], and I want to follow in his footsteps.”
The two athletes also had college on the mind, despite only being freshmen.
Goossens hopes to “get a scholarship with cross country.”
Hammack mentioned that running may help her get into colleges, as well as “look good on [her] transcripts.”
But these two students were also able to see beyond the running aspect of cross country, with Hammack even calling her team a family. She added, “They teach me tips and tricks for running to help me get faster, as well as giving me advice about my classes.”
Goossens said that he has learned the importance of “sportsmanship and support towards each other” from his upperclassmen teammates.
Despite their young age, both freshmen also have the ability to teach some of their older peers valuable lessons. Goossens hopes to be able to teach the others on his team the importance of hard work and perseverance, and that putting in the extra effort can be beneficial to them in the long run.
Although it is still early in the cross country season, Jacqueline Hammack and Gabriel Goossens are already doing exceedingly well in their meets.
At the Wolfpack Invitational on Sep. 7, Hammack placed 14th out of 90 runners, setting a high school personal record of 10:40 for 1.5 miles. Goossens did similarly well setting a high school personal record for himself with a time of 19:17 in the 5,000 meter race.
Chase added a few words of wisdom to all of Helix’s freshmen, whether they are student-athletes or not: “Get involved. Get involved and participate. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sport. It could be the chess club, it could be the Harry Potter club. Just get involved in something, and it will make your high school experience much more worthwhile,” he said.