Amador Valley Track & Field competes against Foothill on senior night


Parth Mishra

Azim Ilkal (‘24) and Jared Gondkoff (‘24) compete in the one-mile run.

Last Thursday, the Amador Valley Track team celebrated their annual senior night where they honored the soon-to-graduate seniors with an official farewell. Following the senior night ceremony, the team competed against rival Foothill High School.

“It was senior night tonight, in honor of the 73 seniors between both teams that will be graduating this year. It’s exciting the season is coming to an end,” said Ally Smith, mother of a competing Foothill athlete.

Senior night went as customary: seniors arrived with their families and were announced to the crowd in successive order, starting with team captain and long-distance runner Ryken Mak (‘23)

“You know, every year you get to go hang out with your friends and race and all like it’s all fun, but like this meet being the last one, it kind of brings the whole year to a close,” said runner Julia Carter (‘23).

For the underclassmen, the event represented a sad yet hopeful reminder of their own senior night, where they will one day stand in front of the crowd with their families and say their goodbyes.

“I feel pretty sad that the seniors are leaving, but also hopeful. Most of them were like big brothers to me. I’ll really miss them,” said long-distance runner Diego Loredo (‘26).

The seniors see themselves as having the responsibility of passing a torch off to the underclassmen, who they believe will excel at the sport in the future.

“We got some freshmen, a very young team this year on jumps especially, so they’re gonna shine in the next few years. By the time they’re my age, they’re gonna be insane,” said jumper Soren Pagtakhan (‘23).

After senior night, the track meet between Amador Valley and Foothill ensued. Following the celebrations came a series of fiercely competitive but friendly races between the two teams.

“Most of the athletes here know a lot of people from Foothill, so it’s like running with friends. But then again, they are our rivals so we have a lot of friendly competition going on,” said runner Dahlia Versteeg (‘23).

Seniors who seek to pursue Track & Field post-graduation were also competing for spots on some of the more competitive track meets set to occur in the coming months such as the EBAL and NCS championships.

“This meet was special, it was our senior night, and it was also kind of a chance to qualify for the EBAL meet. I have another meet next Saturday where I can hope to qualify for a different meet,” said Mak.

At the end of the meet, coaches had much to say about the unprecedented hurdles the seniors faced throughout high school to succeed in the past few years, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Some of the seniors, they went out and kept on trying to do track [and] during COVID, they would go work out in parks. No senior before has ever passed off a torch that burns as brightly as this year’s,” said jumps coach Elias Pico.

All 73 of the seniors from both schools leave behind an unprecedented legacy. They continue inspiring the younger generation of runners as they move on to the next step of their journey as alumni of their respective track teams.

“It’s a little nerve wracking and a little emotional, but definitely exciting too. My advice to the underclassmen is to just listen to any coaching you get, and to try your best no matter what,” said hurdles runner Gino Fidone (‘23).

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  • Foothill athletes also celebrated their senior night at Amador Valley.

  • Seniors were able to get portraits taken with their families and friends.

  • Seniors celebrated this momentous occasion with their families and loved ones.

  • Amador athletes warmed up in groups before their events.

  • Runners position themselves for the relays.

  • Nehemiah Fungula (’26) participates in the long jump for Amador.

  • Sprinter Julianna Diwa (‘24) warms up for her 100 meter sprint.

  • Amador athletes take a rest after an arduous race.

  • Foothill athletes competed against Amador athletes as friendly rivals.

  • Team captain Ryken Mak (‘23) poses for the photo.