Chasing Gold

Following a third-place finish at the Manhattan Borough Championships, the Greyducks enter the outdoor season with clear goals in mind.

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By The Track Team

Coming off two consecutive third-place finishes at the indoor Manhattan Borough Championships, the Stuyvesant boys’ indoor track team, the Greyducks, entered the 2023/24 season eyeing a return to their winning ways. After starting the year with a cross-country season that resulted in numerous record-setting performances and a third-place finish at City’s, which sent a squad to States, the Greyducks were determined to continue their momentum going into the indoor season. 

This indoor season, coaches Sandra Brandan and Stephen McClellan decided to change their approach to tryouts, implementing more selective tryouts for both veterans and incoming runners. “We wanted to expand on more than just running, we wanted field competitors like throwers, jumpers, and pole vaulters,” Coach Brandan said. Instead of just accepting the fastest runners, the team looked for athletes with the potential to perform in field events. As the season progressed, the boys divided their practices between East River Park, the Armory, and the school weight training room. This season, the team also introduced a rest day every week where the whole team would take a break from practice to recharge or work on other activities. However, the coaches are planning on reworking it in the outdoor season. “What ended up happening was some runners lost some practice time because they would be busy on another day as well,” Coach Brandan said. Many of the Greyducks decided to experiment with new events and focus on refining their technique. Multiple sprinters also dedicated their time to training for specialized events, specifically hurdling and field events, which the Greyducks did not prioritize in previous seasons. Junior Max Shimbo broke out in the 55-meter hurdles this season, eventually securing a gold medal at Borough’s. “The [55-meter hurdles] was a new event for me, and at first I performed horribly. However, as I practiced, both at the Armory and fifth floor, and changed my training regimen, I began to lower my times and reach some major milestones, such as sub nine seconds in December,” Shimbo said. He started the season with a 55-meter hurdles time of 12.5 seconds, and was unable to break the 11 second mark for the first two months of the season before altering his hurdling technique, which propelled him to his personal record of 8.62 seconds at Borough’s. 

The PSAL Gobbler Classic meet in November was a strong mid-season display, with multiple podium finishes for the Greyducks. Senior co-captain Vincent D’Angelo placed first in the 55-meter hurdles, while the varsity and sophomore 4x200-meter relay teams both placed first in their respective divisions. Junior Victor Kamrowski also placed second in the 55-meter dash, while the Greyducks secured top-three finishes across the board in field events. 

As the Manhattan Borough Championships grew closer, both the sprint and distance teams were hit by a series of injuries and illnesses. The Greyducks entered Borough’s missing multiple key athletes and struggled to compensate for those missing positions. Co-captains D’Angelo and Dawson Carlisle, two of the team’s strongest runners, were both unable to compete. During Borough’s, Kamrowski suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in the 55-meter dash finals. “I felt a tweak in my hamstring at around the half-way mark of the race, and I immediately knew it was pretty serious,” Kamrowski said. Despite placing third in Manhattan once again, many members of the team shined in their events. Junior and co-captain Jamie Andersen and Shimbo each won first place in their respective events—the 600-meter and 55-meter hurdles. Junior Snow Krigh and senior and co-captain Wilson Li also excelled, placing first in the long jump and shot put, respectively. 

But the Greyducks didn’t let the loss discourage them as they set their sights on the City Championship. This season, the Greyducks were well represented across all events, particularly in the mile run. The mile run is a premier event for mid-long distance runners, and the Greyducks sent three runners to City’s—Carlisle, Andersen, and sophomore Raphael Ramot—the most out of any school in the city, and a testament to the work ethic of the team. The race came down to the final steps, as Andersen edged out the other two favorites to win by hundredths of a second. Unfortunately, Andersen was disqualified for accidentally bumping into another runner at the finish line, invaliding what would have been a national-qualifying time. 

Nevertheless, the race cemented the Greyducks as powerhouses heading into the outdoor season, with the team as a whole having its best performance in over a decade. Carlisle attributes this success to the team’s mindset and commitment. “This year we have been instilling a winning mindset in all our athletes, which has clearly been working,” Carlisle said. In addition, the Greyducks stick to a strict, rigorous practice schedule. “The team practices six to seven days a week, typically with two track workouts (Tuesday and Thursday) and school practices on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Saturday and Sunday are usually reserved for our races and long runs,” Carlisle said.

As the Greyducks move towards the outdoor season, they seek to win at the Borough Championships while qualifying as many athletes as possible for the City Championships. Fueled by their accomplishments from the indoor season, the team has also set some loftier goals as well. “We would love to have a 4x800 relay team compete at the famous Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania, and we also hope to send a few athletes to either Nike or New Balance Outdoor Nationals at the end of the season,” Carlisle said. These meets collect the fastest athletes from across the country, and representing Stuyvesant at them would be a huge accomplishment. But right now, the main priority for the Greyducks is to reclaim gold at the Borough Championships.