Having begun their preparations for postseason meets during the winter season, the girls track and field teams hoped to travel far into the postseason. A major goal for the team was to send several runners to the New Balance National Scholastic Competition. Such a goal required runners to hit set qualifying times in order to be eligible for participation. Over the course of the season relay teams such as the four by 800-meter, the 800-meter sprint medley relay, and the four by 1600-meter have qualified for New Balance Nationals.
Many of the girls have been training under long-term plans in order to ensure peak performance in June. Head Coach James Smirk decided to lay out a whole year worth of training beginning during the winter track season.
“Success isn’t by accident, it’s a long-term view in terms of practice,” Smirk said. “The cardiovascular fitness … is really work that’s done a long time ago … [When they peak] they can transcend that self-imposing limit and find a higher performance level.”
Amy Watsky ’17, a sprinter in the sprint medley relay and super sprint medley relay, finds this method beneficial to maintaining the team’s level of fitness. Having qualified for New Balance Indoor Nationals in her events, she sees the outdoor championship as a motivational and attainable goal.
“[We] train really hard in the winter … By the time it gets to the spring, we can maintain our fitness better,” Watsky said.
For physical preparation, the girls often run repeat distances. Given substantial intervals between each postseason event, the athletes also have more time between meets to train and recover.
“[The] meets are more spread out now, and [they] give us the opportunity to build power rather than volume,” said distance runner Lou Mialhe ’16.
The team is past the phase in which they work to develop fitness. They now focus on maintaining good form and various strategies that runners can employ during a race.
The physical preparation led to several players placing in the NJSIAA Sectionals Central Group 3 meet to advance to the NJSIAA Group 3 meet. Once at the group meet, the four by 800 meter team of Julie Bond ’15, Annefleur Hartmanshenn ’17, Paige Metzheiser ’15, and Mialhe finished sixth and booked a spot at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions with a time of 9:40.40. Noa Levy ’17 earned a wildcard entry into the MOC for long jump, eventually finishing 11th.
With the down time between the MOC and the New Balance National Competition, coaches and athletes collaborated to orient the workouts that best fit the athletes. Having accumulated experience, composure, and fitness from long weeks of training, the athletes are more confident in their abilities to succeed at the New Balance Nationals. Smirk said, “There’s that moment of everything coming together … [and] that’s when the peak happens.”