Nevada's Caeden DaSilva wants to end his track career with a gold medal

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

NEVADA — Caeden DaSilva has unfinished business to take care of on the track.

As a freshman, DaSilva helped Nevada place third at state in the Class 3A 4x200-meter relay, fourth in the sprint medley and sixth in the 4x100. That gave him a taste for how good he could be heading into his sophomore year, but like every other competitor in the state, he was denied a chance to compete due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, DaSilva had his sights set on winning the open 200, placing in the 100 and helping Nevada continue its tradition of outstanding relay teams. But after a tremendous start to the season, he suffered a stress fracture. He still went on to place third at state in the 200 (22.54 seconds) and ninth in the 100 (11.42). He also helped the Cubs take seventh in the 4x200 (1:31.45) and ninth in the 4x100 (43.89).

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Nevada senior Caeden DaSilva wants to win an event at state to close out his track career. DaSilva placed third in the Class 3A boys 200-meter dash last season and he also helped the Nevada 4x200 relay team place seventh.

This fall, he helped the Nevada football team turn in the best season in school history at receiver. But losing 38-0 in the 3A quarterfinals to eventual state champion Harlan didn't sit well with him.

DaSilva wanted more.

Now fully healthy, DaSilva is on a mission to finish his Nevada athletic career on a strong note as he prepares to begin his final season on the track.

“Losing in every sport kind of (ticked) me off a little bit," DaSilva said. "It gives me extra motivation.” 

Once football was over, DaSilva continued to train hard during the offseason. He put a big emphasis on weight training and got out and ran as often as he could.

A couple weeks ago, he ran timed races. DaSilva was able to get his 200 time in the 21-second range.

“Kids like Caeden don’t come around that often,” Nevada head boys track coach John Pelzer said. “I’ve been lucky enough to coach a few kids like that."

DaSilva was a freshman when current Iowa State runner Joven Nelson was a senior for the Cubs. Nelson won the 3A boys 400 hurdles that year and he and DaSilva were both part of 4x200, sprint medley and 4x100 relay teams that placed third, fourth and sixth respectively.

"Caeden got to see how Joven practiced and competed," Pelzer said. "There’s a tradition here that we put out pretty decent sprint med, 4x1 and 4x2 relays every year, so there’s some competition for who wants to be that next guy that takes over a spot.”

Pelzer said DaSilva is capable of doing anything they throw at him.

“We could run him in an open 1, 2 and 4 and he’d be competitive in any one of those races,” he said. “He could be a quarter-miler in a distance medley if we had a really good 800 runner. He’s actually a very good jumper too. There’s a lot of options there.”

But the Cub coach said DaSilva will likely be competing in four sprinting events by the time the state qualifying meet rolls around.

“I love sprinting,” DaSilva said. “Even when I lose, I like sprinting.” 

DaSilva also enjoys seeing his teammates succeed. Nevada brings back two other runners off last year's state relay teams in senior Caleb Kooiker and junior Billy Gibbons.

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Caleb Kooiker (left) and Billy Gibbons (right) ran in two state relays with Nevada star runner Caeden DaSilva last season.

“The trips we’ve gone on and all the different meets we’ve gone to – it's been wild," Gibbons said. "I love watching Caeden finish the race and just win it for us."

 Kooiker is looking forward to one last go-around on the track with his classmate.

“We’ve run a lot of relays together,” Kooiker said. “It’s obviously great having one of the fastest kids in the state anchoring your relays.” 

Nevada is still in the process of finding a fourth runner to run the sprint relays. Among the candidates to fill a spot in one of those relays are seniors Cael Franzen and James Edwards, junior Karter Beving and sophomore Carter Holland.

Edwards is running track for the first time since he was a freshman and Beving is out for the first time. Holland was an alternate runner at state last year as a freshman.

“We haven’t quite got the pieces all together yet,” Pelzer said. “Once we have all the cogs in the machine, we’ll figure out what the right chemistry is and what four guys are going to be able to do it. But I definitely think we’ll be able to find a fourth.” 

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DaSilva said Pelzer plays a big role in Nevada's consistent success at state running relay events.

“He makes sure we get our steps down doing our handoffs," DaSilva said. "He teaches a lot of form. I lot of people don’t have form when they come from middle school into high school – I know I didn’t.” 

If he can stay healthy, DaSilva has a great shot at anchoring Nevada to a medal at state in multiple relays and placing high individually in the 100 and 200.

But DaSilva doesn't want to settle for placing in his events at state, especially in the 200. He wants to end his career with a state championship.

“It’d mean the world,” DaSilva said. “It’s what I’ve been trying to do for four years.”