No More Grass… Girls Track Hits the Concrete

By Caitlin Munson ‘14
Goodbye cross-country and hello indoor! As the lady Hornets say farewell to a season of hard work, exhausting practices, and long hills in Prospect Park, they welcome the new season of indoor track.
“I’ll miss cross country but at the same time you have to move on to new seasons,” said Emani Parsons’13. “Since I came off a good cross country season, I feel I could have a good indoor season.”
Indoor track is a sport composed of various competitive contests including running, jumping, and throwing. The events offered include sprints, middle as well as long distance, and relays. The races take place in full-size indoor arenas. An average arena is surrounded by a 200-meter oval track with four to eight lanes.
“In terms of getting your body back into a faster mode, it’s a bit of a challenge,” said Alyssa Elezye’13, “but after a while you get use to it and fall into the flow of things, getting better gradually.”
As well as running, indoor offers non-running events such as shot put, javelin, discus, and hammer.
Hurdling is one of the more popular events, according to Amber Edwards’14. “I’m glad to be reunited with my hurdles again,” said Edwards, the team hurdler. “My goal is to qualify for cities and I’m only a few seconds away!
Joining Edwards on the hurdles is Karina Davidyuk’16, a freshman who was interested in the event since cross-country. “I’m practicing, but I could push myself to work a lot harder,” she said.
The ladies usually attend meets at The Fort Washington Avenue Armory Track located in Manhattan. One meet that most of the girls desire to compete in is the Yale Invitational. The girl’s coach, Walter Cohen, and assistant coach, Harry Singer, select a few lucky girls they believe have worked tremendously hard to run a relay at the meet. The invitational takes place at Yale University in Connecticut every January for high school track teams, both boys and girls, all around the country.
Many of the girls prepare for the meets both physically and mentally. “I usually go out for a long run the day before a meet,” said Elezye, a long time mid-distance runner. “I have a really good dinner with carbohydrates just to get myself energized. To not get myself too anxious, I tell myself that I’ve prepared all week for this and that whatever happens, happens for the best.”
Janine Simmions’14, a sprinter of two years, has a more mellow routine. “The night before, I usually take an ice bath to make sure all my muscles are relaxed. I listen to upbeat music to get my mind open and clear. I try to keep calm, get a couple of laughs in with my friends, and think positive,” she said.
Some of the girls even get in touch with their spiritual side to help them gain confidence.
“I eat, breathe, and pray that God will help me do my best.” said Kayla John’15.
With a new season, comes new scenery. The girls trade in the soft, grassy turf of Prospect Park for the hard, concrete surface in the school’s cafeteria. “It’s not really that comfortable since it’s pretty crowded,” agreed Davidyuk, “Everyone’s doing different things. It’s also pretty slippery, so it’s a bit of a challenge to stay on your two feet.”
On Tuesdays and Thursday, the more experienced girls have the privilege of training at the YMCA armory located on 15 St. in Park Slope, right up the street from Prospect Park.
“I prefer to run at the armory because the surface is a lot better and we’re going to be running on an indoor track, so why not practice on an indoor track?” said Parsons.
Every year, Mr. Cohen asks the girls their goals for each season. This year, he asked them to write them down on index cards and turn them into him. That way he can observe who really has their minds set on their goals.
Parsons said, “For my final indoor season, I would really like to qualify for cities in the 3,000 meter, 1500 meter, and 4×800. I would also like to go to the Yale Invitational.”
“I have a lot of goals but my main goal is to go to Yale,” Edwards said. “I went last year but Cohen picked me as an alternate but I actually want to run this year. I know that if I work harder and PR (personal record) in my 200 meter and 400 meter, I have a better change of not just going, but running at Yale.”
Mr. Cohen believes that even though track is a competitive sport, “camaraderie amongst teammates is an essential quality for a team.”
Simmons believes that the girls should “come together more as a team.”
“I know every team has their own group of friends but I think we should just get rid of the little cliques. The freshman should be able to ask us anything because we have more experience than them. Whatever questions they have, we can give them advice and answers as a way to keep them motivated,” she said.
Taina Henri ’13, 3 year member, said, “By practicing hard, coming to practice everyday and taking the team seriously. Listening to what the coach says including his criticism will only help us get better.”
“I feel like we need to support each other and make sure that everybody feels like they can get better,” said Parsons. “We shouldn’t signal anybody out. We just need to work together as a team by being more in unison because that’s when everybody can do good as a whole.”
Mr. Cohen and the team can be found practicing in the cafeteria every Monday -Thursday, periods 9-10.

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