Greyducks Strong at Start of Season

After unlocking the weight room, coach Anna Markova began to set up for indoor track practice. The team was in the hallway doing form-running, which was highly organized for the large group of high school students. Stuyvesant’s girls’ indoor track team, the Greyducks, were back to their strict training schedule after finishing second in their second meet of the season on Sunday, December 4. Three weeks into the season, the Greyducks have transitioned from the cross country season and are now working on their track and field events.

The first meet of the season, the Annual Pilgrim Games, was on November 27, but it was not the most accurate display of the team’s ability. Many players were not in attendance due to the rest period they took in between the fall cross country season and the upcoming indoor track season. In addition, many of the runners at the meet were underclassmen, who were still acclimating to the sport.

However, the second meet of the year, the Jim McKay Games, featured a strong performance in the field events, and consistency in the distance events. Though schools from all over the city competed, the Greyducks finished the meet in second place with 57 points, behind Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem, which tallied a total of 84 points.

Among those who earned points for Stuyvesant was junior Daria Shifrina, who came in third place for both high jump and triple jump. Stuyvesant also dominated the 1500-meter race walk, with junior Joyce Wu, senior Sharon Hu, and sophomores Bernice Chen and Kayla Lew filling the top four spots, respectively. The team is especially strong in the distance events, relying on its players’ strong stamina.

The Greyducks’ presence was also noted in the pole vault competition, as junior Venus Nnadi came in third place, with two fellow team members finishing behind her. The team’s success was significant because of the multi-borough competition. “We usually don’t place this well in citywide meets, but we’ve been doing really well as a team lately,” Nnadi said.

Many of Stuyvesant’s competitors in the second meet vied at the City Championships last year, in which the Greyducks came in seventh place. Both Young Women’s Leadership High School and Brooklyn Technical High School ranked higher than Stuyvesant, placing fourth and fifth, respectively. In this meet, Brooklyn Technical High School came in seventh place, a sharp contrast from its championship performance. At this point in the season, it is too early to predict the winners, so the fate of the season remains uncertain.

This year, 23 freshmen comprise the 52-member team, a statistic that Markova highlights as a possible key to success. “We have really promising freshmen and good [returning runners] from cross country entering with great skill,” Markova said. Though the freshmen have promising potential, they will need to work hard to overcome certain obstacles first. “The girls have to learn everything from the beginning,” she said, explaining how the role of the upperclassmen is very important not only to the team’s success, but also to the individual development of the younger members.

Senior and co-captain Kamila Radjabova shares this view of the team. Radjabova is looking forward to seeing what the next meet holds for the team, as the members of the cross country team will be participating. “Our varsity distance team from cross country has gotten back to practicing for indoor track and they’re looking especially strong,” she said.

This year was the first time in 13 years that the girls’ varsity cross country team made it to the State Championships, proof of their truly dominant runners this year. “It’s exciting to think about the new school records that we might set during this season with our relays and individual events,” Radjabova said. As the anchor (the fourth and final runner in a relay event) of the Greyducks’ relay A-team, Radjabova hopes to improve the relay’s performance from Sunday’s meet, in which it came in 16th place among 34 teams.

With many meets ahead, the team will have a better picture of specific things to work on moving forward. In the meantime, the team is holding on to a sense of optimism. “If we’re all passionate and give it our [all] at practices and meets, we can definitely make a strong showing at City’s this year,” Nnadi said.

Samuel Merrick

Sam has loved playing, watching, and talking about sports for as long as he can remember. His need to do physical activities and be outdoors allows him to appreciate each moment in life, a quality that he believes makes him a better writer.

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