Rising Spring Athlete

Savannah Landaverde, Writer

Rio Mesa is lucky to have an ambitious student with improved potential throughout her athletic career. Lena Stephenson is a striving athlete with many goals that she surpasses. She balances her physique while also keeping up with an impressive GPA, IB classes, and a strong work ethic that awarded her a deserving student internship at a clinic. Lena continues to advance people’s expectations and at the same time surprising her own capabilities. 

When Lena was a junior, she was the only girl to qualify for a field event that she attempted for the first time only four weeks before CIF! For track and field events, disregarding some invitationals, first place gets 5 points for their team, second place gets 3, and third place gets 1. Rio Mesa was in need of jumpers and Lena gave it a go to help the team earn points against Oxnard and Channel Islands high school. She knew she had the potential to jump really well based on her coordination skills built from dancing. What Lena didn’t know was how successful her results would be. 

“It surprised me when I was pretty good at it.” She puts it into detail, “I usually just think of it as beats, like my beats are running and the hop, skip, and jump, are just fast beats.” She also qualified in the 4×4 relay for CIF. 

Even without doing a fall or winter sport, it was important for her to remain in physical shape when track would eventually come around in the spring. Having done dance for twelve years and being an athlete since the age of two, she’s naturally used to improving her athleticism. Taking care of her nutritional health also contributes to staying in shape for running. Training  independently certainly helped because of the gym having specific equipment that benefits her training. 

“I definitely feel like I gained a lot of muscle in my legs which have made me get powerful starts in my running and jumping.”

Lena feels more confident in her field events than the 400 meter races. “Jumping is definitely less stressful and I think that’s what I like about it because when I remember running the individual 400 meter I would not sleep the night before because I would be so nervous. I was aware of how much pain I would be in the next day and it was terrifying. But jumping is so lowkey because you have three tries and you have so much time to warm up and go whenever you’re ready. So, I think that I’m more fit for jumping.” 

When she’s not on the track, Lena does a student internship at a clinic generally after school. Every other Tuesday she has to skip practice because of her hours being set during then. She takes patient vitals, assesses their health through patient evaluations, and presents their symptoms to the physicians in charge. Lena says she feels very good about the opportunity to help low-income families.

About a year ago, she got a position that allows her to manage fellow interns. Lena not only accomplishes a leadership role at her internship but on the track too. Team dynamic has changed a lot since last season and since then she’s influenced her spot as a leader within the sprinters. Focusing on other people relieves the tension from the independent side of track that she receives. Lena doesn’t receive pressure from anyone in particular besides herself. Exceeding from last season and breaking personal records is always on an athlete’s mind. 

Lena feels really excited to see Rio Mesa’s track team’s improvement. The Rio Mesa home meet versus Camarillo was canceled due to weather but she will be attending the Don Green Invitational at Moorpark highschool on Saturday to compete in the long jump, triple jump, and the 4×1 relay events. Long jump is at the beginning and goes through the first half of meets whereas triple jump is the second half, depending on how big the meet is. “It’s really hard to schedule because it depends on the athletes.” She would not like to train long distances anymore because the hard work she’s put into strength training has prepared her for short distance. Lena Stephenson is thrilled to qualify for CIF once again for her newfound talent.