Spring Track and Field Preps for Upcoming Season


Credit: Akash Samad

Hackley hurdler Fin McCombe places 7th in the 110m Hurdles at the NYSAIS Championship for Track and Field.

By Chris Chon, Sports Editor

As the sun starts to set on the Hilltop, Hackley Spring Track is on the tracks and on the trails, working towards one goal: the NYSAIS Championship. This year, under head coach John Gillard, the 4×100 relay composed of Junior Winston Britton, Senior Darius Inzar, Senior Anthony Roderick, and Senior Elijah Ngbokoli are striving for their second consecutive All-American recognition in Outdoor Track and looking to take first at the New York State Outdoor Track Championship meet after placing second last year with a time of 42.03 seconds at States and 41.75 seconds at Nationals. “It’s definitely an uphill battle this year with our top competitors Cardinal Hayes, Huntington, Newburgh, and South Shore already posting fast times, but we’re going to work twice as hard to get to where we were last year and hopefully surpass last year’s time. I also hope to run at the state and national meets individually now that I have recovered from my hamstring injury that plagued me last year,” said Elijah.

Senior Julia Stevenson leads the Girls’ Distance team this year, hoping to land a spot on the All-American Outdoor Track list after missing the cut off by one place last year in the 2000 meter steeplechase. “Right now, I’m focusing on establishing a good base with mileage and strength work. My goals are to win another Ivy League and NYSAIS championship as a team, race well at states and nationals, and hopefully PR — I’d like to break five minutes in the mile and seven minutes in the 2000 steeplechase by the end of the year,” said Julia. Close to her goals, Julia looks to build off her 5:02.22 mile time off the Glenn D. Loucks Games she ran last year and her 7:06.34 2000 meter steeplechase she ran at New York Relays last April.

Amongst the hurdlers, Senior Gabriella Zak has been working with her new coach, Coach B, in her goal to break the school record in the 400 meter hurdles and qualify for the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet for the event. “I’ve been doing a lot of 400 meter repeats early this spring track season, and I hope that it will pay off later this season.” Gabriella went 1:06.70 in the 400 meter hurdles at Ivy Meet #5, her fastest time to date and placed third at the NYSAIS Championship meet. She also went an impressive 1:00.8 in the 400 meter dash at Eastern States Championships, placing 5th amongst the best of high school athletes along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Junior Amin Mustefa has made leaps and bounds from where he was last spring track season, jumping his way into his first States appearance this winter track season in both the long jump and the triple jump. “Right now just trying to be the best jumper I can be. In the winter,  I was jumping 41’1 in the triple jump and 19’11 in long jump… I’m currently trying to get to 42 feet and 6 inches for the triple jump and 20 feet and six inches for the long jump. I’ve been working on the track and in the weight room to get the gains necessary to maximize my potential. With better performances, I hope to bring back the NYSAIS championship trophy for Hackley which would make it the eighth consecutive year we’ve won it” said Amin.

During spring break in late March, the Spring Track Team is taking a training trip in California to train at Orange County College and the Crystal Cove State Park trails at Laguna Beach. Runners and throwers will wake up at eight every morning and attend two workouts throughout the day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In between the two workouts, runners and throwers alike have time to relax, play games of pickup beach volleyball, and explore Laguna Beach. “To put it simply, we eat a lot, play a lot of volleyball, and sleep a lot. The training trip is very tiring, but the upside is that we have a lot of time at the beach to relax with our teammates,” said senior distance runner Erin Jung.

For the Distance team, one highlight of the trip is the La Jolla Canyon/Point Mugu Mountain run at Point Mugu State Park. The entire run is 9.5 miles in length with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Distance runners start the run in the early evening and make it to the peak just as the sun is setting on the rolling La Jolla Canyon mountains. “It is an incredibly rewarding experience. It definitely is a run where the team bonds immensely as we all die going up the mountain together. It is really tough going up, but once you get to the top, the view is breathtaking, and the run down feels amazing,” said Junior distance runner Alexander Popov. During the Distance team’s mountain run, sprinters and throwers visit the Santa Monica Pier and ride the iconic ferris wheel and rollercoaster in Pacific Park. Others that dare partake in the Santa Monica Pier Trapeze school or immerse themselves in the arcade with skeetball and claw machine games.

On the final day of the trip, for the first time in Hackley history, Hackley Spring Track athletes will compete in a California meet at the 26th Annual Trabuco Hills Invitational and Distance Carnival on April 1 and 2. “Only the 4×100 and 4×200 teams will be participating in this meet as the distance team will be roughed up from tough workouts all week, but even though this is a competitive meet, both relays are expected to win,” said Anthony Roderick, who is a member of the 4×100 team. “As seniors, we’re definitely looking forward to another great season of new PRs and hope that we can bring home the NYSAIS Championship trophy one last time,” said Elijah.