Girls varsity track and field practices lead to success in meets

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Sophomore Christina Marinelli and freshman Daniela Carilo warm-up for practice by running laps around the track in practice on April 28. The team attributes much of its success to their hard work in practices.

Delia Rush, Staff Writer

Walk down to the track almost any day of the week and you will see a united group of girls sprinting, jumping, and working hard to improve their times.  The girls varsity track and field team has proven to be hard-working in practice and while competing this season; running multiple miles a day.  Practices are specified to the different events that the girls compete in.

The team is in the midst of a strong season which the girls and coaches look forward to grow upon.   This was proven recently at Penn Relays, where the team was successful all around.  The 4×400 relay came in second for their heat in 4:13 while the 4×100 came in eighth in their heat in 00:53.  So far, three school records have been broken, two girls are at the top of the county for their event, and numerous girls have gone to the state qualifiers and championships in previous seasons.  The current roster took about four years to reach its stride together.

“This is a good group of dedicated girls who want to compete, do well, and put Port Washington track and field on the map,” said Head Coach Mr. Jeremiah Pope.

However, victory and success does not come easily.  The girls practice every day after school, along with Saturday mornings and most days during school vacations.  Each weekday practice begins at 3:17 p.m. on the dot and usually finishes at 5:15 p.m. The Saturday morning practices start at 7:00 a.m. and end around 9:00 a.m.

“This is probably one of the hardest working teams in the school.  The girls don’t join just because they want to lose weight.  They join because they want to compete,” said Coach Pope.

After a warm-up of running a mile and  dynamic group stretching,  the girls are ready to get into the day’s workout.  The warm-up takes about half an hour and done together as a team.  The team is usually split up into groups depending on what events they run, with sprinters in one group, long-distance in another, and hurdlers, jumpers, and throwers in other groups as well.  In total there are anywhere from three to six different workouts going on at any one time, each specialized to runners of all events.

According to their preferred event, each runner’s practice is unique after the warm-up.  A group of sprinters may work on their starts, while the long-distance runners work on their pacing for the extensive races.  Hurdlers practice the 100 meter and 400 meter hurdling races while also working on their endurance and sprinting.  Those who do the long-jump, high jump, or pole vault will also condition themselves by working with the sprinters and long-distance runners, in addition to practicing for their designated events.  The same goes for throwers.

Many of the girls compete during the fall cross country season and winter track season, running year round.  Otherwise, the majority of the girls do participate in other sports throughout the year.

If the team is not on the track, they are probably in the weight room conditioning their muscles.  Coach Pope is a certified personal trainer and focuses on improving both their strength and endurance while practicing on and off of the track.

“Our workouts can be extremely tough.  Especially when we have one another to push us even harder,” said senior Joelle  Feinberg.

Workouts are often switched up to train the different aspects of running for each type of runner.  Sprinters will go on a distance run to work on endurance and distance runners may stick around the track to work on agility.

The team always starts and finishes together, making sure to have a sense of a unified team.  They always warm up together before meets, a tactic to intimidate the other team.

“Even though the practices are really hard and Coach Pope pushes us a lot, we help push each other too.  It’s cool because we get to bond a lot over the season and become like a family,” said sophomore Emma Cisneros.

There is a significant focus on being a bonded and unified team.  Although the practices are quite demanding, there is an emphasis on creating a pleasant environment and relationships between the runners.  The girls try to have fun while remaining focused at the same time.

“While other teams are tense at the starting line before a race, we try to make each other laugh so we can run looser.  Our motto is always: ‘start strong, finish stronger,’” said Feinberg.