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Braving The Cold To Reach New Goals

Leon Zhao, Sports Editor

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Look outside one of Ward Melville’s windows after school on an icy winter day, and you might be shocked to see a group of boys running, donning tights, beanies, and track jackets. This is the Ward Melville Boys’ Winter Track Team, a group of hardy individuals who brave the perennial chilling winter conditions, while many other sports teams remain in the warm indoors to practice. The team meets for the entirety of the winter season, training and competing from early November to as late as early March.

After witnessing these runners take on the snow, wind, and sleet day in and day out during the winter season, one might wonder what it takes to continually train outside into the freezing cold for such a long period of time. In the spirit of the team, junior sprinter Reilly Browne contends, “Our motivation for practicing is the prospect of improvement. The winter season has always been improvement-oriented, as we all fight every day to run faster for ourselves, our team, and our school. We are each pushing a boulder up a hill and if that entails running in the cold, you can be sure we’re pushing.”

This mentality has brought the team key accomplishments in the past. Last year, the boys had both 4x800m and 4x1600m teams qualify for the New Balance Indoor Nationals, an exclusive meet that invites top high school runners from around the country to compete at the Armory Indoor Track in New York City. The teams included this year’s returning runners Eric Zulkofske, Danny Ryan, and Caleb Wheeler, along with Matthew Viscosi and Glen Pinkava, who were both seniors last year. Individuals on the team have also shone on the track. Now-senior Danny Ryan qualified for States in the 1000m last year, clocking a time of 2:33 to make the qualification. Eric Zulkofske was also given the opportunity to run the mile on an intersectional relay at States for his efforts in the mile at the state qualifier.

The team has high aspirations for this season, as their training brings them ever closer to important meets such as the Section XI State Qualifier, States, and New Balance Indoor Nationals. Individuals on the team hope to build on past experiences in training and racing to achieve personal bests. Senior co-captain Danny Ryan asserts, “As an individual, I want to run the 1k at states and hopefully break the school record.” Individual performances will also undoubtedly improve the team’s relays. Danny’s goals for the team are to go to states in the 4x800m and “to get All-American in the DMR at nattys.” If the top runners can repeat their past performances and the other runners step up to support each other on relays, then the team will have a good shot at competing at a high level and making states and nationals.

As a former member of the Boys Winter Track Team, I can personally attest that the training and racing that these runners undertake is far from easy. Training outside in the bitter cold every day after school and competing in meets on the weekends takes a great deal of dedication, time, and energy. However, for this pack of runners, remaining locked in and motivated is all worth it in the end. Senior co-captain Eric Zulkofske affirms, “I love the sport and the guys on the team.” “When you are working to your full potential you will do your best, and when you start to doubt yourself is when you start to have problems, so just staying positive is the best thing to do.”

Update: Congratulations to captains Eric Zulkofske and Danny Ryan, who placed 6th and 14th in the STATE in the 1600m and 1000m respectively!

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Braving The Cold To Reach New Goals