Title: The Greyducks’ Race to Borough Championships

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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By The Photo Department

“Runners, on your marks. Get set. Go!”

Junior and first leg Jessica Kwok charges forward, ready to make her team proud at the Ocean Breeze Invitational.

Especially in this race, the 4 x 800 relay, teamwork is crucial for success. But that’s the beauty of the Stuyvesant Greyducks, the girls’ varsity indoor track team. Each runner is motivated by her fellow teammates whom she wouldn’t dare let down.

Three legs later, senior and co-captain Ester Suleymanov reaches back for the baton while looking straight ahead, unfazed by the anchors who have already taken off. As soon as she grasps the baton, Suleymanov leaps forward, unwilling to disappoint her teammates. Right, left, right, left. The cheers of her coach and team from the stands make the pain in her legs inconsequential, and she keeps pushing forward. She sprints toward the finish line, solidifying her team’s confident performance.

While this relay team placed 16th out of 29 teams, the runners could not have achieved greater sense of accomplishment. Suleymanov, Kwok, freshman Bella Stenhouse, and junior Julianne Yotov crushed their personal record, finishing with a time of 10:22.72.

Moments later, the 4 x 400 relay team steps on the track and runs their best race at 4:35.19. Sophomore Susan Zheng, junior Caroline Ji, sophomore Zuzi Liu, and Stenhouse rejoice at the sight of their improvement, hopeful of the success that could lie ahead.

While the Greyducks didn’t place at their usual dominating spot, these girls are taking it one step at a time. The culmination of the long hours on the track and post-practice pain will inevitably lead this ambitious team to the main event: the Manhattan Borough Championship.

As the reigning champs, the Greyducks have high expectations for their upcoming performance in February. With a large portion of their points previously coming from racewalking, the team is struggling to replace the racewalkers from last year’s graduating class. In addition, filling in the gaps in field events, such as shotput and long jump, has not been an easy task. Yotov said, “While we have many great distance and middle distance runners, we are lacking sprinters, racewalkers, and field eventers.” It will be crucial for the Greyducks to find a way to balance their talent before their meet so that they can maximize their points.

However, these goals are not false hopes. Placing first in every race isn’t necessary as long as the Greyducks are able to perform well in a wide variety of events and garner a significant amount of points to take home the win. The roster for this team seems impressive enough to take on this task. Interestingly enough, the freshmen are standing out among the runners as they continue to beat their personal records at every meet and place well in the freshman category.

Stenhouse has proven to be a powerhouse thus far. She placed ninth in the 3000-meter race amongst a competitive pool of runners at the Martin Luther King Games in January. She is the only member of the team to be in both relay teams, and her participation has certainly proven to be vital to their success. Similarly, freshman Sophia Wan-Brodsky has continued to impress her teammates after stepping up to be a prominent long distance runner.

As the runner ups of the Borough Championships last season, the Greyducks will undoubtedly have to be at their best performance to redeem themselves and their legacy. The future of this team is looking bright, and motivation amongst the runners doesn’t seem to be lacking. As Yotov puts it, “We’re all excited to see what the future has in store!”