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Track: Buried treasure in Sterling

Have you ever watched a dog bury a bone in the backyard, or perhaps a squirrel burying some nuts for later use?

Well, the Sterling boys track team has been doing something similar to that for the past 15 or so years – although that streak may be in jeopardy.

In the late-1990s, a group of Golden Warriors underclassmen came up with an idea to do a makeshift time capsule. It was actually an old Gatorade bottle and, according to one of group’s pioneers, Alex Barajas, the first time capsule item was a piece of paper submitted by teammate Ryan Ptak with his 200-meter time from the Dixon Invitational.

The bottle was buried at A.C. Bowers Field, near a light pole adjacent to the long jump pit.

Whenever the Golden Warriors competed at Dixon, team members would add their own items, and it became part of team lore.

“We just thought it would be something fun to do, to leave a little piece of ourselves behind,” Barajas said.

As years went by, the Gatorade bottle was replaced by a Tupperware container, then a larger Tupperware tub, and finally a lock box. Athletes donated their cleats, jerseys, newspaper clippings, and even occasional speeding tickets.

There is a key to the lock box, passed down from a senior to a freshman who is likely to be a track team member for 4 years. The current key holder is sophomore Canaan Gillihan, who was entrusted with the key by then-senior Alex Rodriguez a year ago.

“I was really honored,” Gillihan said. “I’m just really honored to carry on this tradition.”

A few years ago, however, Sterling stopped competing in the Dixon Invitational. The box was dug up from its trusty hole at A.C. Bowers Field and transplanted to a spot under the bleachers at Roscoe Eades Stadium. It was covered by dirt and rocks, and only team members know where it is located.

Cornell Hartz, who last year as a junior was one of the team members to dig the hole to stash the box, was selected as the senior to open it this year. When it came time to add items, however, the box was missing.

“I went to go look for it, and it just wasn’t where I thought it was, or anywhere in that area,” Hartz said. “I’m thinking that somebody could have taken it.”

The box holds a lot of value to anyone who has contributed to it. Hartz is hopeful it will be back soon.

“I hope it’s just misplaced,” Hartz said, “and it will be back in its place when we host the sectional meet.”

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