The San Lorenzo Valley boys and girls track teams finish their season in the next few weeks, but not before making a trip to Gresham, Ore., for the 50th Centennial Invitational and Coach Rob Collins' old stomping grounds.

"What really matters is what we're doing at the end of the season," Collins said, who is in his 15th year as track coach at San Lorenzo Valley.

Among those succeeding this season for San Lorenzo Valley is Jacob Hicks, who runs multiple events but enjoys running the 1,600 meters the most.

"Two miles on the track is just exhausting, you have enough time to think but not enough time to really feel the pain," said Hicks, who recently placed 12th in the mile run at the prestigious Stanford Invitational with a season-best time of 4:31.00.

Senior Anna Maxwell is preparing to finish her season strong. Maxwell is ranked No. 1 in the nation after her performance in the girls mile meters at the Stanford Invitational with a personal best time of 4:43.27. She signed a letter of intent on Feb. 5 to attend the University of Washington this fall.

"I hope to finish the experience strong and get ready for college and the next stage of my running career," Maxwell said.

Both Hicks and Maxwell credit Collins for their success during their four-year track and field careers.

"He really points me in the right direction, especially once I start getting lost," Hicks said. "It's kind of tough to be a runner because you always think that you know what's good for you."

"I owe all my success to his workouts,” Maxwell said. “He knows exactly what to do, when to help us all perform at our best when we need to."

The biggest challenge for Collins, has been the inability to run alongside his runners. Suffering from hereditary issues and in need of a hip replacement, it's been two years since he went running himself.

For Scotts Valley, the Falcons plan to take flight in the 4x400 relay race. A young team consisting of three sophomores and one junior, the team is expected to perform well after last year's fourth-place finish in the Central Coast Section.

"We were two seconds away from (competing at) state," said sophomore Mikaela Inman. Other members of the team include sophomores Allie Carl and Madi Volk, as well as junior Hayley Herberg.

Fourth-year coach Jeremy Ball believes the team has what it takes to compete at the next level.

"It's a young group, but a really solid group," Ball said of his team. "They finished second at the CCS 'Top 8' Track and Field Classic with a time of 4:02."

The same team finished fourth in CCS last year and looks to improve on that mark this year.

"It was really exciting just seeing how well we run against really fantastic runners and how we mesh as a team together," Volk said.

Known as “Team Icy Hot” because of their pre-race ritual to smear the ointment on their legs, the girls love to compete side-by-side.

"We have a dirt track, we don't have any runway pits, we really, through the generosity of SLV coaching staff we practice mainly here."

Carl noted the camaraderie between the fellow runners as a reason she competes.

"I think runners in general are super positive and uplifting towards each other because we have a common goal," she said.

Not to be outdone, Scotts Valley sends two of its runners to the collegiate level, with graduating seniors Scott Edwards and Valerie Morrison both signing with UCLA.

Despite competing with the popular Falcon lacrosse program for athletes, Ball said he is pleased with the boys' season results.

"I think it's pretty amazing," Ball said. "It's been a lot of fun to coach."

- A lifelong resident of San Lorenzo Valley, Adam Johnson enjoys covering local sports and runs his own website covering the Santa Cruz Warriors at E-mail:

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