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FILE PHOTO: MARK FELIX, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Woodbridge's Gabe Warner, right, leads the county in the 400 meters with a time of 48.69 seconds. He is part of a deep and talented group of sprinters that could lead Woodbridge to a CIF-SS title.

Woodbridge boys believe this is their year

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Woodbridge track and field coach Aaron Craver determined before the season began that the fate of his team would be decided by its desire.

An indomitable will pushed him to a nine-year NFL career. As a coach, Craver has helped his athletes discover their competitive fire.

Each season, the Warriors’ mentor calls upon a simple formula to motivate his team. It’s a thought-provoking exercise that instills an individual drive to succeed.

“I ask them what their goals are. If they have the potential to be great, I ask them if they want to be great,” Craver said of his approach. “I let them decide what they want to do about it.”

If the early showings are any indication, the Warriors have responded positively to their coach’s methods. The Woodbridge boys have emerged as a threat to win every time they enter the lanes.

At last week’s Beach Cities Invitational, the Warriors scored victories in five of the 10 track events. The team has some of the top sprinters in the county, led by Gabe Warner who holds the county’s leading time of 48.69 seconds in the 400 meters.

Warner exemplifies Woodbridge’s can-do attitude. The senior had to overcome injuries (to his hip flexor and knee) and mononucleosis before posting his county-best time at the Beach Cities Invitational.

Warner says his coach has helped him unlock a new level of confidence in himself.

“He’s done a lot,” Warner said of Craver. “Even with all the injuries that I have had throughout the years, I’ve improved a lot. He knows that I can accomplish pretty much anything in the 400.”

Warner thinks that believing in himself is the key to realizing his year-end goals, a mentality that Craver has worked hard to establish.

“I’ve just got to be consistent with training and just tell myself that I can do it,” Warner said. “(Craver) has been helping me out a lot with getting inside of my mind that I can do what he knows I can.”

Scott Patton (100), Alex Young (200) and Rafael Lara (1,600) also posted individual wins in the Beach Cities Invite.

The Warriors’ strength in the sprints has them believing they will be a contender for the Division 2 team title at the CIF-SS Finals on May 23.

“I know as far as CIF Finals are concerned, Mater Dei won it last year and Loyola won it the year before that,” Craver said. “We were the runner-up both years. This is a year where we are definitely trying to win the CIF Division 2 championship.”

The Warriors will have a full team participating today in the Trabuco Hills Invitational. St. John Bosco should pose the Warriors’ biggest test in the 400 relay. The Braves are ranked 11th in the state in the event. Woodbridge (42.16) is eighth in the state and first in the county.


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