Girls Track Sprints to Third Place Finish
By ELIZABETH YU, PEIYU JIANG, and WANHUA RONG
The Midwood Girls Track team ran to third place at the Brooklyn Borough Championship on Sunday, October 28, at Van Cortlandt Park. Brooklyn Tech and Millennium High School came in first and second, respectively.
The girls acknowledge Brooklyn Tech and Millennium as cross country powerhouses, along with Susan B. Wagner, but they know they can compete with the best.
Alina Bennett ’20, a long distance runner, said, “They’re pretty good, but we can be better. They’re definitely our main rivals right now.”
“It’s important to get into the right mindset,” said Estela Villacis ’21, another long distance runner who ran JV and finished 16th out of 33 people. “Track is a competitive sport, and wanting to win gets you halfway there.”
Bennett’s time on the varsity 3.1 mile race was 23:47.77. “I could’ve done better,” she said. “My knee has been hurting a lot more lately, and I couldn’t perform at my best.”
Bennett has been struggling with her injuries ever since sophomore year. Common injuries among the track team are shin splints and knee problems.
“Sometimes athletes get what is known as athlete’s knees,” explained Aysegul Yumusak ’20. “Just recently, I had to get my knee taped up after some intense practices.”
Despite these injuries, the runners persevere.
Bennett said, “I’ve thought about quitting once or twice, but I know track will look good on my college application. Plus, I actually enjoy running, and I don’t really know how to play any other sport.”
Track isn’t just running; there is also a lot of practice involved to hone and perfect form and increase stamina. Runners practice four days a week and have a team meeting in the weight training room on Fridays.
“We do a bunch of one-thousand’s [meters] and sometimes a couple two hundreds, even for the girls who don’t run short distances,” said Villacis.
Bennett added that the runners also refrain from eating sweets and junk food.
“We try to eat healthy, so instead of sugar, we eat salads,” she said. “We’re actually not allowed to eat any candy or chips.”
According to Bennett and Villacis, there are many benefits to joining the track team beyond better physical form.
“I’d definitely recommend everyone to join,” said Bennett. ”It promotes a healthy lifestyle.”
“It also helps with time management,” Villacis added. “I couldn’t manage my time properly, but now I do most of my homework in the library before practice.”
The team typically practices after school from Monday to Saturday. They practiced in Prospect Park and the Midwood gym room for at least one and a half hour from Monday to Friday at the beginning of the season. But as the sky is growing darker faster, the team has begun practicing on Midwood Field, which is closer to the school. On Saturday, the team usually practices in Van Cortlandt Park because this will help them become familiar with the competition routines.
Running is not an easy sport, the athletes say.
“Track is dangerous,” Yumusak said, laughing. “One time — multiple times, actually — I’ve stepped into a hole in Prospect Park while running a race or just during practice and almost sprained my ankle. I think most girls who’ve run at least one year of cross country seriously have experienced that.”
In addition, while the team is preparing for the City Championship in two weeks, the team had a Freshman Sophomore City Championship. The timing interrupted their rhythm, and many runners didn’t get their ideals places.
“After looking at my time for the sophomore race at Fresh/Soph, I wasn’t satisfied,” said Karen Lam ’21. “I’m not sure if I’m going to run in the City Champs, but I won’t let this one race get me down. I’ll learn from it and try not to make the same mistakes next race.”
Results from track meets can be disheartening sometimes, as the girls know, but they’ve learned something important along the way.
“Track has taught me that you shouldn’t give up when things don’t go your way,” said Villacis. “It’s not the end of the world if you don’t run a good race; you can just do better next time.”