A short time after it began, the coronavirus pandemic forced the CIF to cancel the rest of the spring sports season, which meant an abrupt ending to the high school careers of spring sports seniors around the central valley. As a way of honoring some of these outstanding seniors, the Sports Central team will be presenting a series of stories called “Senior Standouts.” They will air in sports at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday through the end of June, and others, like the story below, will appear here on our website.
Megan Hernandez: Sunnyside Track and Field
She epitomizes what it means to be a great student-athlete. She lettered twice in volleyball and once in tennis during her high school career, and most notably, was a four-year varsity letterman in track and field. She was a two-time league champion in both the long jump and triple jump, and was also the winner of the Wildcat Character Counts Award. Academically, she was a Scholar-Athlete, and an FUSD Scholar All-American. She is going to graduate with high honors as a valedictorian with a 4.26 GPA.
UCLA (academics only)
We asked Megan to reflect on her journey as a track and field athlete, and her time at Sunnyside.
Describe the emotions when your senior track and field season was cancelled?
The second I found out my senior season was over, I completely shut down. I went to practice that day crying and upset. At that time, it was just sports and extra events that were cancelled, so my coaches comforted me with hope to still travel to out of city meets. However, the next day, school closures were announced and my high school career was over.
How did you get into track and field and what did you like about it?
I started competing in track and field in the fourth grade at Hamilton elementary school. Coach Pappus personally came to my classroom to recruit me after seeing me compete in cross country. I thought track was just running, but Coach Pappus and Sapolvida both taught me how to triple jump and long jump and I’ve been in love with the sport ever since. My favorite part is feeling like your flying and landing in the soft sand, knowing you just reached a new PR (Personal Record).
What made track and field at Sunnyside a special experience?
Track at Sunnyside was more than a team. It was a close bonded family that supported each other no matter what. Our coaches became more like parents, and I knew I could always count on them to support and care for me on and off the track. They taught me life lessons that I will use for the rest of my life. I got to meet teammates that turned into my best friends. As a multi-sport athlete, the family aspect of the track team is truly unique and special.
What was your most memorable track and field moment at Sunnyside?
My most memorable moment during high school track, was my freshman year at the Exeter Invitational. We were there ALL day and it was approaching midnight. The whole team was extremely hungry and there were still several events to go, so my coaches went and bought what seemed like 100 burgers for the whole team. I’ve never been so satisfied with a McChicken in my life. We celebrated in the stands and cheered our teammates on with burgers in our hands. It was the longest but most fun meet, and my coaches are the best for doing that for us.
One or two people that helped with your track and field development?
Coach Lyons has been a father figure to me since my freshman year. Not only did he help me develop my skills in track and field, he answered any question I had, no matter how random. I’m sure I’ve bothered him way to much in the last four years, but he always gave me an answer along with encouragement and advice. My 3 coaches: Coach Lyons, Smith, and Wallace, have become like family and made me the person I am today.
What has life been like during the pandemic?
Life during the pandemic has been both stressful and rewarding. I’ve made my decision and will be attending UCLA next fall (if they open) majoring in Human Biology and Society on the pre-med route. Being a senior is upsetting at this time, but our sacrifice will ultimately help the health of everyone. I’ve gotten to spend extra time with my family which I’m grateful for. Thank you to all the health professionals risking their lives for everyone. They are the heroes right now and I hope to be like them one day.
Here’s what Sunnyside girls track and field coach Addison Lyons says about Megan:
“Megan is a well-rounded student-athlete. I know a lot of coaches say that about their athletes but it rings true for Megan. She has competed in volleyball, track and field, and tennis. She is also a member of the Sunnyside Doctors Academy and enrolled in numerous AP classes. She is involved in clubs, school leadership, link crew, and others. In all this, she maintains a 4.0+ GPA. She is a leader on the team and on campus. Students and teachers can’t find a negative thing to say about her.“