Girls track earns a top spot in Conference 1A

Dylan Spilko, Staff Writer

The Port girls winter track team has closed yet another strong winter season, proving once again that they are a force to be reckoned with.  This season, the team was moved up to Nassau County Conference IA, after winning the two previous winter conference titles in a lower conference.  With the county championship on the line on Feb. 8, the Vikings earned fifth place in their new division.

Coming into the top conference, the girls track team had new and improved competition, but that didn’t stop the Vikings from reaching their season goal. Many of the runners this season had to step into a major role for them to succeed.  Some of the team’s key performers include juniors Lucy Hurt, Davida Harris, and Sarah Cavallaro, and seniors Beatriz Chavarria and Athena Johnson.

“We were able to win and become conference one champions, which was definitely our largest team goal,” said Harris.

The team’s quality performances in events throughout the season such as the meet at St. Anthony’s High School have earned the Vikings a top spot in their conference.

At the St. Anthony’s meet on Jan. 12, junior Melissa Hernandez recorded a time of 07.68 seconds in the 55 meter event and her teammate, sophomore Ava Gellis, finished close behind with a time of 07.69 seconds, good enough for a top-15 finish.  In the 300 meter, Gellis posted another impressive time finishing at 42.82 seconds. The result earned her a top-5 finish on Jan. 20.

There have been many key members on the girls winter track team that have contributed to the team’s success throughout the year.  Senior captains Chavarria and Johnson have taken this Vikings team to new heights over the last few seasons.  However, the senior, more experienced members are not the only talent that helped the team succeed.

“I think that our team has been successful because of the depth that we have.  We have girls in every event and we are pretty strong in any event,” said Hurt.  “Our field, sprints, mid-range, and distance runners have propelled us to an excellent season.”

Although the team may be filled with talented juniors and underclassmen, they recognize that a main reason why they are successful is because of their excellent senior leadership. Without the guidance and support that these seniors provide to all members of the team, and their constant attempts to improve everybody’s performance, the program would not have its prestige.

“Some key members of this team I would say are the seniors.  We are all good at events we do, and we always encourage each other to push themselves to try their best,” said Johnson.  “We are the leaders of the team and we set the example for the underclassmen.”

In previous years, the girls varsity winter track team lost key seniors, and this year it will be no different.  The five seniors on the team, who are also the captains, are Johnson, Chavarria, Ilana Hill, Williams, and Maria Kogan.

The emotional and physical leaders of the team, the five captains have proved their worth to the rest of the girls on the team.  However, a total of twelve returning juniors will fill in for the seniors, and the team looks to continue their success going into the 2018 winter track season. The graduating runners have laid a strong foundation for the less experienced runners to model after, so future success is expected.

The Vikings headed into the county championships with the utmost confidence, and they were one of the favorites to win it.  While they unfortunately did not win county championships, they earned a respectable fifth place to close out their first year in this new conference.  Key contributors and depth propelled this team to another conference championship in Nassau County.  The team is looking forward to future success in the next season.  As for this season, they have much to be proud of, as many of their runners have finished on top in the standings in their respective events.

Both Christake and Williams held top-five scores in the high jump event this season. Johnson was a leader for Port in the shot put, as she was among the ten best in the county.  Finally, Hurt finished on top of the entire conference with a mile time of 5:08.

The emotional and physical leaders of the team, the five captains have proved their worth to the rest of the girls on the team. However, a total of twelve returning juniors will fill in for the seniors, and the team looks to continue their success going into the 2018 winter track season.

“I think all five seniors will be missed next year. We’ve all gotten really close to everyone on the team and leaving them next year will be hard,” said Johnson. “Each one of us brings a different, but good aspect to the team. I have trust that the upcoming upperclassmen will have just as much success as we’ve had this season and I am hoping for them to do better than ever.”