Indoor Track and Field Teams Anticipate Great Performance at League Championships

Senior Connor Clarkson receives a handoff from junior Shane Gargiulo at the Fred Kirschenheiter Memorial track meet on Jan. 15. Photo Credit: Jen Smith

Following the Sectional Championship victories of J-D’s boys’ and girls’ indoor track and field teams last year, the teams are hoping for a repeat title. On Thursday, Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m., hundreds of athletes will pack the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College for the League Championships in hopes of achieving PRs, or personal records, in their events. One week later, the Sectional Championships will take place, followed several weeks later by the State Qualifiers.

Head coach Patrick Gillette is cautiously optimistic about the teams’ chances of winning the League Championships. “We have looked at it and scored it out based on best performances. The girls look like they have a very comfortable lead. On the boys’ side, we’re in a dogfight with Auburn. In all the virtual stuff we’ve done, we’re ahead. Anything can happen in a meet. A whole meet can turn around in a heartbeat. Both teams have really good chances of winning Leagues. One of the reasons is that we cover everything. We spend a lot of time doing field events. Our distance is good. Our sprinters are good. Our throwers are a lot better this year.”

Girls’ distance coach John Lenish echoes the success of the athletes this season. Lenish reports, “Our training has been very consistent, which was evident throughout the season. We had athletes qualifying for Sectionals and breaking personal records every single meet. As coaches, we want to make sure our athletes are comfortable in the events they are in. We look at previous performances and see what events our athletes are best in. We also look at our team needs and what combinations of athletes in different events will give us an advantage compared to what other teams might do.”

Junior Hudson Groat is focused on Thursday’s League Championships. “Our goal is to go and beat our toughest competition – that’s Auburn and ESM – and keep the championship streak alive. We’ve been able to compete with them and outscore them all season and we’ve worked very hard to be able to have a good shot at being League Champions. Our strategy is just to do what we’ve been doing all season and have our day when it matters.”

Senior Hannah Fuchsberg is excited to race and to do her best for the team. “The girls’ team is definitely smaller than in past years, and both teams had some changes, but I think the strategy is just to race hard, have fun, and if we win again like last year, we will be excited. If not, we will be happy with our efforts regardless. I think we have a decent chance of coming in first like last year in Leagues and Sectionals, and our biggest competition is probably Auburn.”

Meanwhile, each athlete also has their own personal goals they hope to achieve on Thursday, some of which will qualify them for Sectionals or even State Qualifiers. According to sophomore Peter Drew, “I’ve been doing the 3200-meter since spring track, and I’m hoping to go sub-eleven minutes again. Since Paul [Fischi] has just been doing phenomenally, I’ll be running with him in hopes that we can both place well. Leagues will be super important for this because we will have so many people cheering us on.”

The girls’ weight throwers have had an outstanding season, with senior Hailey Webber ranked in the top 50 for New York State. Sophomore Jillian Webber remarks, “My goals for the rest of the season are to keep improving my numbers and continue to break my PRs. I think the throwers will crush it and do well at states. I think the girls’ team will show resilience and dominate!”

With the League Championships quickly approaching, one thing is for sure. J-D’s competition will be very competitive, and a win is far from guaranteed. However, with the motivation of their teammates and coaches, the track and field teams hope to bring more League Championship titles back to J-D.

Isaiah Steinberg, '23
Isaiah Steinberg is a senior at J-DHS. He is the Standards Editor and News Editor for the RamPage. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, playing with his half-brother, or sleeping.