“Sign me up!”
Just days before the League 3B Championship meet two Tuesdays ago, when the field events, steeplechase and racewalk took place, Edgemont’s coaches realized that, for such a large team, only a select amount of events were being covered.
Each year the track team seems to have the same breakdown: a large group of sprinters, a smaller group of distance runners and an even smaller group of throwers and jumpers. This year, the distance crew was lucky enough to have grown, but the team as a whole still lacks numbers when it comes to the field events in which they participate.
The league meet is one of the most important meets for team cooperation and scoring. In order to score high, a large array of events must be competed in, and the placement of the athletes is key. While runners are often competing against themselves to achieve their own personal bests, during this meet an individual’s time is less important compared to the placement, since this is the way the team will rack up points.
And this is where strategy plays a part as only the top six runners place, and each team member can only participate in a maximum of four events.
“To plan for leagues, we put our top runners in each event,” first-year assistant coach Nikki Rosee said. “Sometimes we have to ask people to step out of their comfort zone and we place them in events we feel they will do well in.”
The team did its best and was very willing and able when it came to trying new events. Having only practiced steeplechase for two days, a total of nine runners participated in this event, one of the largest numbers the team has seen in a long time.
James Lu is a very strong distance runner, but has never competed in steeplechase before. The coaches placed him in this race and he ended up taking third and qualifying for counties.
Dimitar Peev competes in hurdling events and does long distance in the fall, so steeplechase, which is a combination of hurdles and long distance, drew Peev to this race.
“The water pit combined with the hurdles and distance was a bit much for me, but I felt that I did decently considering that I’ve been running short distance for this season,” he said.
Although Peev didn’t place, he was a team player, saying he was “glad to do it for the team.”
The pentathlon is another event that is rarely contested in meets due to the amount of time it takes and because not many athletes want to or are qualified to participate. The girls event is very strenuous and includes 100-meter hurdles, shot put, long jump, high jump and the 800-meter race over a two-day period.
Not many people have the strength, agility and speed to allow them to take part in this event, but coach Steve Rubenstein wanted someone to compete because it would guarantee points. After some thinking, a clear answer arose for the girls: Dhatri Sangasani.
“I think the pentathlon was a really good experience for me,” Sangasani said. “Although it was not in my comfort zone I believe that I did pretty well for my first time doing it.”
Sangasani’s main event is the 100-meter hurdles and she has recently been competing in long jump. Additionally, in past years she has had some experience in high jump. That left shot put and the 800-meters as her lesser events, but for those events she didn’t have to learn any new or difficult techniques to still do well.
“High jump and shot put were definitely a challenge since I’ve never practiced them before, and the 800 was the event that scared me the most since I don’t run distance,” Sangasani said. “However, the team helped me out by cheering me on and I’m very thankful.”
Two other athletes were part of this event, and the results were close. In the end, Sangasani placed second with a total of 1,667 points behind Bronxville, which scored 1,826 points.
“I think I could’ve done better in all my events because there’s always room for improvement,” Sangasani said. “The 800 was a new pace for me so I think that if I had the pace down, I would’ve done better overall.”
Still determined to get more people in different events a day before the meet, first-year assistant coach Camisha McKenzie took a group of athletes to teach them javelin, which is fairly easy to learn. Edgemont’s athletes were excited to try this new event.
Unfortunately, javelin ended up getting cancelled due to the timing of the event, disappointing those who were going to participate in it.
Alex Brandfonbrener, a senior captain, has only one or two meets left in his running career at Edgemont. After participating in a running, jumping and hurdling event during his time on the track team, he hadn’t yet done a throwing event.
“I was disappointed having never thrown before,” he said. “I love track since there’s so many different events to try and this was something I decided I wanted to do before I graduate. Alas we couldn’t.”
There were still various events that could have been covered more like pole vault, long jump or triple jump, and several more events where no one competed at all like the racewalk and hammer throw.
With a team of 80 and only three coaches, it’s hard to teach so many different events simultaneously during practice, and sometimes regular workouts and training takes precedence over a field events day. As a result, many field events don’t get practiced.
“I don’t like how field events aren’t practiced often,” Peev said. “Even though we are becoming better runners by doing workouts every day, technique is the most important thing in almost all field events.”
Rosee said, “There’s weakness in the field events, so it’s something to work on in the future.”