A Brief Background of the Track & Field Coaches

By Rogelio Castillo Jr. 

March 11, 2024

Spring sports are starting this year, and Track and Field is one of them. This season, the head coach is Jennifer Frere, who was also the head coach for the Cross Country team during the 2023 season last fall. She has coached the team well with consistent training plans throughout the week that includes long runs, workouts, and recovery days. As the successor to Chuck Ogle, Frere has changed a lot of how practice is structured. First of all, there is a half mile warmup every practice with everyone from distance runners to throwers. After that, there are a set of drills and leg swing outs to finish the warmup and separate into their respective event(s).

Frere will be coaching along with Jackie Wilson for the long distance (1600, 3200 meter) and the new “middle distance” (400, 800 meter) training groups. Sprints are led by Macy Rivas, a student teacher here at MBHS. David Burton, a renound decathlete will also be a coach of the hurdlers and pole vaulters. Throwing will be led by Marvin Pech, our school security officer, and Elijah Lott. Jumpers will be coached by Jarred Coburn, one of MBHS’s custodians, and Macy Rivas. I have interviewed a few of the coaches to learn more about their track background and why they wanted to coach in the first place (Note that a few coaches are not included).

Jennifer Frere

Frere is a cross country icon for MBHS. While she was a student at our school, she became the winner for the state meet in her senior year and earned a scholarship at Cal Poly for XC and track. “I’m a 5-time All-American, ran the 3k and 5k [events] on the track and cross country. Then I continued to race until about 6 years ago. I still love the sport,” she says. 

Many students here at MBHS have likely had her classes through the years. Being a student and athlete in the area never left her. “I’ve always wanted to come back to the Central Coast,” she commented. Initially being a professor at Cuesta, she “felt was missing” and that she “wanted to try and get back into the classroom”. Soon enough, a full-time job application was open at MHBS and she has been teaching here ever since. 

Frere becoming a coach is quite recent. The opportunity to become head coach for cross country  came last summer. Tyler Hoyt decided that Chuck Ogle would no longer be the cross country and track head coach, and was looking for someone to replace his position. Frere took that opportunity, and is now the new coach for both sports.

Jackie Wilson

Both Frere and Wilson ran cross country for the same years. Jackie has a different story, however. “From the time I was a young child, I ran a bunch of fun runs and stuff, even in elementary school,” she tells me. From elementary school she planned to run freshmen to senior year, however a lack of training over the summer was a factor into Wilson’s decision to play volleyball for a season. “I was not very good. So I went out for track and went out for cross country as a sophomore and stayed with cross country and track after that.” 

Wilson similarly was not thinking about coaching. She says, “I started coaching when many years ago, my niece [needed] a coach and so I did it.” Her coaching portfolio is spread across a variety of sports: softball, basketball, and cross country, and this season will be her first coaching track and field. Wilson’s primary job is being an employee at the California Men’s Colony. After work, she heads to the high school to coach both cross country and track every school day.

Elijah Lott

Lott was primarily a hurdler, sprinter, and jumper throughout his school years. “I would actually run the 100, the 200, the 4x100, and also long jump and occasionally triple jump. I really loved hurdles back in middle school but when I was in high school I was more of a long jumper and triple jumper,” he states. His reason for joining track was not because of cross country, unlike Frere and Wilson. His dad was a professional football player, and wanted to follow his footsteps. “[He] was like, ‘if you want to take this serious then one thing we need to do is get you in track,” Lott claims. Track has a plethora of events to join, and also a plethora of exercises. This would be a perfect preseason sport for a football player, or any other sport. This is true for many track athletes today; many are part of the football team during the fall season.

Although the track events Lott has done are not relevant for throwing, he decided to fill the position as coach. “I wanted to [coach] sprints, I wanted to [coach] jumps, but a lot of those roles are already filled so… I kinda see myself as a cog. I like to fit into a system and just do whatever I can to help out.” Although this was not ideal, he embraced the challenge in coaching an event he was not an athlete in. This does not mean that throwing will have a bad coach, in fact the opposite. “Luckily I have a lot of resources I was able to reach out to; literally an Olympic shot-putter and they gave me a lot [of advice]. My old lifting coach in high school  was an olympic shot-putter so he gave me a lot of information on how to be an effective coach when it comes to throwing.”

David Burton

Burton has a large background. During high school he was an athlete for all four years in track, running the hurdles, jumps, and the 4x400. He won CIF in the 110 and 300 hurdles then competed in state for both. This earned him a scholarship for Cal State Northridge in LA. Burton says, “While I was there I became a decathlete ‘cause I was pretty much a ‘good at a lot of events but not great at any.’” A decathlete is a type of event where athletes compete over 2 days with 10 events. So being good at everything was perfect for Burton. “I had a pretty solid freshman year then sophomore year I went to Nationals and got 3rd. 3rd at Nationals as a sophomore, and this was Division 2.” Nobody can just become one of the best athletes in the whole US. That takes determination and very hard work. Interestingly, he “transferred to Cal State Chico because of a girl who I ended up marrying and still married to…many people know her, she’s Amy Burton at Del Mar”. 

At Chico, Burton continued to compete “as a senior winning Nationals so I ended up playing DC Nationals my senior year and actually set the Cal State Chico 110 hurdle record.” That record lasted 20 years, only being broken recently. He had a national javelin record for a while, and many high school records. After college, he attempted to become a pro, however a back injury stopped that. It was not until years later when Burton became motivated into running again. He said it was because of his daughter. “She started doing gymnastics and did Central Coast Gymnastics (CCG) and I just was driving her and sitting there watching her do gymnastics and at some point I was like ‘I wanna start working out’”. This was Burton in his 40’s. “It took a couple years but then the body started coming back and actually set the American record for decathlon for masters of my age group.” To this day, he still holds that record.

Lastly, I asked him why he wants to coach track. He told me, “I love it out here. Honestly, it keeps me young.” A simple answer with a lot of meaning. “There’s just something that you get with your blood pumping that I just love,” he says, “and then that, just being able to work with the kids on a daily basis, it’s so rewarding.” There is something about teaching kids how to be better athletes that all the track coaches love and enjoy doing.