ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro High School’s magical track season ended as it should have: with a Class 3A state team title for the Trojan boys. The boys’ team finished the season undefeated-and rarely even challenged-with an amazing 10 new school records on the books. This team had successful performers in multiple events, from field events to relays, and the contributors ranged from freshman to seniors. We likely won’t see another team quite like this one for some time, if ever.
What is more impressive, though, than the mere sum of their accomplishments is the caliber of their character. Yes, this team had gifted athletes. But their achievements surpassed what natural talent alone could have given them. What set this team apart was its commitment to hard work and the discipline and determination to make the most of the talent they had been given.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Ryan Jilka and Garrett Call as prime examples. These two seniors are not athletic phenoms. Athletically endowed, yes, but not extraordinarily so. Yet these two young men leave a legacy of accomplishment that should inspire all of us, no matter what our particular race in life. Jilka finished with two state titles and two school records in the hurdles. Call, who finally achieved his school record in the 800 meters at state, is considered to be the greatest over-achiever his coach has ever had the pleasure of working with.
These two are not the exception on this team. They are the rule. They leave a legacy for all of us to pursue. If we are as gifted as they are in character, we won’t give up before we catch them.