Track strides towards post-season victory

Josh Rosen, Staff Writer

This season, boys and girls winter track have very high expectations, as both teams hope to continue their dominant streak from previous years.  The boys are aiming to try to get even more people to participate at Nationals and Penn Relays, while the girls aspire to finish first in the Conference Championship for the fourth consecutive year. 

Both teams have plenty of seasoned runners from the fall cross country season, and they hope to apply tactics that have worked in the past to the current season. In winter track, there are four categories of athletes.  Long distance, which includes races like the 1600m/1500m (for girls) and the 3200m/3000m (for girls), mid-distance, which consists of the 1000m and the 600m, sprinters, which is mostly the 55m, the 300m and 55m hurdles, and field events, like the shot put or high jump.

On the girls side, the team is led by senior captains Megan Bazzini, Celia Christake, Lucy Hurt, and Saige Gitlin.  Bazzini is the captain of mid-distance, Gitlin the sprinters, Hurt the long-distance, and Christake the field events.

“The biggest attribute of these young ladies [upperclassmen] is that they all lead by example…. Seniors and captains Lucy Hurt , Saige Gitlin, Celia Christake and Megan Bazzini, along with juniors Ava Gellis and Brittany Nahas have all played a major role in our success and this season they continue to produce.  Between all these girls mentioned, they have earned the prestigious awards of being County and Conference Champions, All County and [All] Conference, All Long Island, All State, and finishing top twelve at Indoor Nationals,” said Pope.

In past years, the team has had unparalleled success, winning the past three Conference 1 Championships. They hope to win again this year.  The team has also had a number of runners win awards such as All Conference and All County.

This year, their primary goal is to win Conferences for the fourth straight year, looking to beat Oceanside, their biggest competitor.  As they have lost some very key runners, this year looks like it will be a big challenge.
Hurt has team leading times in three events: the 1500m, the 3000m, and the mile.  Her 1500 time is a 4:57.69, 3000 is 11:03.66, and her mile time is 5:14.

Bazzini also has team bests: in the 400m, running 1:02.33, in the 600m, running 1:44.21, and in the 300m, running 43.0. 

Gitlin has the team best for the 55 meter hurdles, running a 9.67.  Junior Ava Gellis holds a team’s best, 7.98, in the 55 meter dash. 

On Dec. 20, the girls were successful at their League meet in getting many runners in the top ten.  Hurt came in second place in the 1500m finals, with Bazzini in seventh and senior Emily Cavallaro in ninth.

Gitlin came in third for the 55m HH, with senior Jamie Littman coming in behind her in twentieth. 

Freshman Amanda Dalimonte came in eighth in the 1500m race walk, with sophomore Julia Lui right behind her in ninth.

Christake led the high jump, coming in fourth, with senior Sarah Cavallaro coming in sixth.  In the shot put, sophomore Allison Turner came in third, and senior Meagan Tsou in tenth. 

The girls were also successful in the 4x800m relay, placing third.  With this level of success in so many events, the girls have a bright future in conference competition.

There are only a few freshmen on the team, but they are working their hardest to reach success.  Freshman Abby Hurt has exceeded expectations in field events, such as the high jump.  Dalimonte and freshman Jill Beberman have contributed in sprinting events and race walking.

As new runners on the team, the freshmen feel that the upperclassmen have helped them transition to a new varsity sport. 

“The upperclassmen are all fantastic people and leaders.  When we came to the team for the first time in the beginning of the season, we were intimidated, but soon after, we realized that we were in a welcoming environment.  They encouraged us and showed us what to do.  They are all enthusiastic and eager to pass along how they trained for the past years,” said Beberman.

This season, the team is extremely competitive and 100% committed, as always.  With this year’s record cold weather, Coach Pope takes it as no excuse. 

“We’ve never used any weather condition as an excuse.  We take advantage of the things we can control and utilize the space we have.  We train our kids like any other champion would train, which is learning how to deal with being out in uncomfortable situations but being able to adapt and perform,” said Pope.

With this championship mentality, it is no surprise that the team has won three straight Conference titles, looking for their fourth this season.  Though the girls endure freezing weather, they always work their hardest and come together as a team.

“Although it has been a lot colder than usual this year, our team has stepped it up by working outside in below freezing temperatures and completing workouts at the Tennis Academy.  Many teams use weather as an excuse, but our toughness and passion for the sport puts us at an edge against our competition,” said Sarah Cavallaro. 

Track is a unique sport as it has no JV team, which forces freshmen and sophomores to mature right away.

“This year, freshman Abby Hurt and sophomore Alison Turner have stepped up for us in field events.  Returning sophomores Grace Livio and Carolyn Stoller have made a huge improvement which will help the team in sprints and long distance events,” said Pope.

For the boys, long distance runners include junior Max Friedman as well as freshmen Noah Loewy and Oliver Melara-Perez, while junior Hugh Owens and senior Patrick Barry lead the mid-distance runners. This year’s lead sprinters are seniors Kitman Lee, Ryan Stevens, and JP Johnston.  Field events are led by juniors and Reginald Bharath and Jacob Moy, as well as senior Alex Zsikla.

Barry currently holds the team’s 1000m and 1600m at 2:46.18 and 4:56.19, respectively.  Melara-Perez has the team’s 3200m fastest time at 10:43.23.  Stevens has the fastest time for the 300m and 600m, running a 38.15 in the 300m and a 1:29.71 for the 600m.

Lam has the 55m record for the team running a 6.93.  Zsikla is currently hurt and is doing the shot put until he can jump again. 

Setting realistic goals and staying motivated are essential to the team’s success. Even the newest team members are already setting goals for themselves to accomplish by the end of the season. Another important aspect is team chemistry and leadership.  

“The upperclassmen have done a terrific job of leading the team and welcoming the underclassmen.  There’s a great sense of unity between the outgoing juniors and seniors and their successors,” said Loewy. 

In spite of the freezing winter temperatures, the team still has to train outside. The real-feel temperature often drops below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. 

“It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in my life, but it makes us better runners. We haven’t gotten lucky at all with the weather this winter, but we’ve done what we can to accommodate,” said Loewy. 

There is a very strong freshman class this season.  Melara-Perez and Loewy are leading the team with the long distance team records.

“[The freshman] give upperclassmen motivation due to the fact that some underclassmen are on par or even better than some upperclassmen,” said Moy.

The team lost ten athletes last year, a substantial amount.  However, the seniors are confident in the returning and new runners to advance the team to counties and then to nationals. 

“The seniors are looking to put in hard work over these next few weeks to bring a county title to Schreiber and look forward to the competition,” said Stevens.

Expectations are high for the team, as they hope to get revenge at conferences last year.