It’s been a lifelong dream for Scotts Valley High School track and field coach Todd Hoffman to watch a meet inside Hayward Field stadium at the University of Oregon.
The field has hosted more USA Olympic Track and Field trials and NCAA championships than any other venue in the country.
His dream finally came true in June after he traveled with a group of eight Falcons athletes who got the chance to compete at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Ore., June 16-18.
“To be there, it was a little overwhelming for that,” he said. “Then to look and there’s your kids running at this incredible facility at the Nike nationals, it was incredible.”
The boys 4×800 meter relay team (Ben George, Aiden Boothby, Spencer George, Mason Lantz) took 11th in the Boys Championship Event final—in 7 minutes, 53.5 seconds—setting a school record by more than 10 seconds.
“It was definitely a very fun experience,” Spencer George said. “It’s cool because it was at the national level. It’s also a huge stadium, and it’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. Also, knowing that a bunch of people back home are watching, that was a lot of encouragement.”
George said he had an inkling they were going to break the school record but not by that extreme of a margin.
“We expected to go barely under eight minutes but we went 7:53, so that was really awesome,” he said.
Lantz (1:55.86) placed seventh in the 800 Emerging Elite race, while Boothby (15:42.61) took 37th in the 5,000 Championship Event final.
The girls 4×800 relay team (Ashlyn Boothby, Ava Decleve, Rafaela Putnam, Amber Boothby) took 16th in the Girls Championship Event final in 9:51.01.
Ashlyn Boothby also placed fourth in 2:09.03 in the 800 and 20th in 10:05.7 in the 3,000, while Decleve (57.38) finished 22nd in the 400.
“Every race, we had a kid in there; I was all teared up and it was overwhelming,” Hoffman said. “I’ve watched them go through the rough days, a lot of rough times, the blood, sweat and tears. And then to see them at this meet, it didn’t matter how they did—just a great experience.”
Ben George said as far as the race goes, everything went perfectly. Just about every relay runner set a personal best mark in their 800-meter leg, which he added was beyond fantastic for being this far into the offseason stretch.
George mentioned his mindset going into the race was the same as any other track meet he’s competed in, only this time he was at the University of Oregon. The athletes gathered under the bleachers before making their way under a grand entrance that led them onto the field.
“You walk out and it’s this massive stadium and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a big stage.’ There’s a lot of adrenaline going in,” he said.
George said the trek to Eugene wouldn’t have been as fun if both the boys and girls teams weren’t able to go, because it’s supposed to be a highlight experience for the entire track team.
Hoffman said the George twins have improved significantly since their freshman year and have always encouraged everybody else while working hard—and without taking any shortcuts.
It was only when Hoffman and his staff graphed the performance of the Falcons that he noticed the drastic change in the brothers’ output.
“It’s just their work ethic and their understanding—that you have to work hard—but also there’s easy days,” Hoffman said. “You have to get sleep; you have to eat right. And they get it.”
The longtime Falcons coach said the George brothers are dedicated, not just to the sport, but to the program, as they continue to watch the team improve.
“That’s really important to me,” Hoffman said. “They’re really just hard working, and just continue to get better.”
Ben George said they have high hopes for the upcoming cross country season because a majority of the team will return after losing two seniors, including Aiden Boothby.
“We have a really strong top five right now,” Ben George said. “We’re gonna train super hard all of the summer and hopefully get top three in State. That’s kind of our goal right now.”
Spencer George said it’s too early to completely assess the group because they’re still working in what they consider a training camp for the runners.
Yet, he still believes his brother along with Lantz and a large chunk of the team is fully committed for what they hope will be a sixth straight Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League title.
“You want to try and spread that to the younger kids on the team,” Spencer George said.
Hoffman just wants to see his team captains continue to have fun and show the underclassmen how to do so while working hard.
“The captains are the ears and eyes,” he said.