Williston Track is set for greatness.
Already, within the first two meets of the season, two long-standing and impressive records have been either tied or broken: Michael Polk ’18 broke the high jump record and Elijah Hutchinson ’18 tied the existing 200-meter record.
Elijah, who arrived at Williston as a junior last year, has already had an outstanding career as a track athlete. Last year’s MVP and this year’s captain, Elijah has set his mark here at Williston. At the NEPSAC Championships last year, Hutchinson placed 2nd in the 400m individual race, 8th in the boys long jump, 4th in the 200m and anchored the 4×400 relay to a 1st place finish.
On Wednesday, April 18th against Cheshire Academy and Millbrook, Elijah ran into the record books by running a time of 21.79 in the 200m, matching the exact hand-timed result set by Michael Dereus ’16 in 2016, also against Cheshire.
[According to timing conventions, hand-timed results are rounded up the nearest tenth of a second, explained Track Coach Chris Peliccia. That makes Elijah’s 21.79 a 21.8, which ties Dereus’ old hand-timed record. Dereus still holds the fully-automatic recorded time in the 200m, at 22.28, set at the NEPSAC Championships in 2016.]
The race served as something much bigger than just tying the record for Elijah, however.
“I was incredibly nervous gearing up to run the race as I saw many of the members from the 100m event also participating in the 200m which put me on edge,” Elijah, who started running in 7th grade, said. “It was cold out and my legs were in pain from previous events I had done so I really wasn’t planning on breaking the record. I figured that I might as well push as hard as I could because I truly did not want to lose.”
Once he started running, however, he knew exactly what he had to do.
“During the race all of that pain and anxiety managed to disappear and my only job was to cross that finish line as quickly as possible,” he explained. “I felt good after the race and knew that it had to be a decent time. I was continuously asking the scoring table for the results, but they hadn’t come out until about a half an hour [after] the race.”
When he received the results, Elijah said, “I was ecstatic, filled with overwhelming joy as it had been years and years of hard work to get to that point. I felt relief. Relief that I had gotten it out of the way and didn’t have to chase some ghost the entire season. But in the end, all I could think about was the next 200. Now it’s time to better the record.”
Though he’s made an indelible mark, Elijah is in no way finished pushing himself on the track.
“I want nothing but success for our team as a whole, which means attaining the highest achievement by winning as a team,” he said. “As for my individual goals, I want to break the 400m record as well as the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. I hope to compete at the collegiate level and continue my success; my work does not stop in high school.”
At the meet before Elijah tied the record, post-graduate Michael Polk achieved a similarly outstanding feat.
Against Berkshire and Canterbury school on April 14 Michael Polk high jumped 6’7,” besting the longstanding record of 6’6” set by Douglas McMillin ’84 in 1984.
Michael, a post-graduate from Long Beach, California, was recruited to Williston this year for football and has signed a national letter of intent to play Division 1 football at Princeton University next fall. However, track has been at the forefront of Michael’s life as well after picking it up sophomore year at his old high school, Valley Christian, in Cerritos, California.
After just one meet, Polk set himself up in the history books for Williston.
“It felt nice,” he said. “I was very nonchalant about it after, I’m just glad I did it when my mom was there. Before I broke it, I kind of went in assuming I’d break it, but even so, as the bar got closer to the record I could feel the pressure to consistently jump well coming on.”
With many meets left, Polk has individual goals already set for himself, although he said he doesn’t plan to run track at Princeton. He also gave credit to the new jumping coach for Williston this year, Ms. Jenkins, for helping him improve as a jumper.
“I’m grateful for Ms. Jenkins showing me a new way to jump,” he said. “She changed my approach in a way that allowed me to use my momentum in a more efficient way that accredit much of my success on that day to.”