Distance runners don’t often get to run true distance relays, so when senior Victoria Capobianco, junior Alexa Doyle and sophomores Natalyn Kapner and Lizzie Hurshman had the opportunity to run the 4x1,500-meter relay at the Jim Mitchell Invitational at the Armory, the foursome seized the opportunity.
Scarsdale took second place in 21:25.06 behind Bay Shore, which crossed in 21:17.57.
“I’m so happy for those four girls,” coach Rich Clark said. “There had been a lot of pressure on them in cross-country. They were good, but then they didn’t have their top runner for the last meet. They took some time off and came back strong. I’m happy with their attitude and performance.”
Kapner, Hurshman, Doyle and Capobianco had run together all fall during cross-country and the team had a strong pack finish at sectionals.
“We all run cross-country together and we’re all part of the top five that run together the whole season, so we’ve gotten really close from that,” Hurshman said. “Clark put us all in the relay and he had us seeded first, so we had a lot of hope we could win it. We got pretty close.
“After we all finished we were cheering each other on. It was really motivating to have those people together on the track.”
With different levels of experience based on their grade levels, it’s a nice mix.
“It’s really helpful because the older girls know more about how to run and they can help us feel less stressed,” Kapner said. “And since we’re not as stressed, we can help give them some energy.”
This was Kapner’s first time running the 4x1,500. “It was good because we were all able to run our own race and we all ran in the place we wanted to,” she said. “I was first, Vicky second, Lizzie was third and Alexa was the anchor. We all had our strengths and the way we were put in was really helpful.”
The Mitchell meet was low pressure and the perfect way for the distance girls to get their season started.
“Although this wasn’t one of the most important meets, it was good to have a good starting point like this,” Hurshman said.
Kapner loves the 2.9-mile and 3.1-mile cross-country courses in the fall, but focuses more on the 1,000-meter in the winter, though this year she is looking to do more 1,500s.
“The thousand is definitely a faster race, but I like it because there’s fewer laps,” Kapner said. “Personally running around and around a track is harder for me, so I enjoy the 1,000 more.”
The winter weather can be challenging for training, but Hurshman prefers the cold to the heat. “It’s definitely a lot harder and with the weather we may have to alter the workout certain days,” Hurshman said. “It’s harder to get in the training, but I personally like the cold better than the summer when it’s 95 degrees. You can put on more layers to become warmer, but you can’t become colder in the heat.”
Hurshman also loves running with the small group of distance runners.
“Since we’re all so close in times we can help each other, especially if we’re struggling in a workout,” Kapner said. “Someone like Alexa or Lizzie will be like, ‘Come on, you got this,’ instead of us being spread out. There’s only like eight girls doing distance this winter, we can be close to each other.”
Scarsdale has had three meets thus far, the Section 1 Kickoff 1, a freshman/sophomore meet and the more selective Mitchell meet. Several other Raiders started setting themselves apart from the pack, in addition to the girls distance crew.
For the boys distance, Daniel Asher and Jake Coleman were the only boys at any of the three kickoff meets to break 10 minutes in the 2-mile.
D.J. Matusz won the boys 600-meter and Sophia Franco was runner-up in the girls 600 at the Mitchell invite.
“I thought D.J. ran a good 600 and he won that, so that’s looking pretty good,” Clark said. “Franco got second to the girl from Bronxville and I think she was second to her at the kickoff, too.”
Matusz joined cross-country late, but now has that base to build from this winter.
“I think it helped because some of the others who didn’t do cross-country aren’t doing as well as he is,” Clark said. “Some kids are doing OK, but had they run cross-country they’re be doing better. D.J., because he ran, he didn’t miss a step, nor did the rest of our distance runners.”
Franco only does one season of track as she plays field hockey in the fall and lacrosse in the spring.
“It took her some time to get going last year and then she got injured at the very end,” Clark said. “We’re patient and she has to be patient, but it will happen for her.”
In the B 4xMile, Joey Samuels ran a 5:11 split, Ben Sommer a 5:17. “They know they can break 5 minutes in the mile this season,” Clark said.
Many underclassmen had a chance to compete at the freshman/sophomore meet at Rockland Community College. It’s not Clark’s favorite venue, but it was a good experience nonetheless.
“We have some really good athletes and with more training and more meets, especially quality meets, I think they are going to rise to the top as they already have,” Clark said.