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Raider Track and Field Article Red Raider Relays

Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009 by Justin Harris
When the new distance runners gathered to hear coach Richard Clark detail the teams strategy for the upcoming meet, they were expecting to hear the usual race hard, strong and steady tactic that had admirably served generations of Raiders. What they got instead, however, caused them to raise their eyebrows as confusion spread across their faces.

Usually, Clark says you have to toe the line, knowing that youve run hard workouts and that you're prepared for the race. Said junior captain Katrina Ricks, or something to that effect. Thus, the trepidation was understandable when Clark announced his new strategy: Race-shocking.

While images of Guantanamo torture techniques and twisted science fiction experiments flashed in the runners minds, Clark began to explain his new method: Race-shocking is a technique in which you go out faster than normal but still run the same time that youre aiming for. For example, if a 1500m runner is aiming for 75 second quarters, she will go out in a 69 or a 70 second quarter. Said Clark.

According to Clark, the strategy is designed to help runners in future races. Said Clark, The next time that you run, you can handle that pace because of the training youve done in the weeks between, and can maintain the 75 second quarters in addition to the faster first quarter.

However, even the best laid plans of coaches and runners often go awry. While the Raiders were hungry to put their strategy into action, Mother Nature had other plans, and Scarsdale was inevitably foiled by the high North Rockland temperatures. While most people were enjoying the warm weather, our bodies were shocked by the excess heat since we had been used to training in temperatures around 50-60. Of course, the other runners all had to deal with the same issue, so while our times were not exceptional, we were able to maintain our places relative to other team. Said senior captain Sam Kohn.

As a result, many of the individual events, taking place on Friday, the first of two days, of the 22nd annual Red Raider Relays hosted by North Rockland high school, produced slower times than expected, on average. Fortunately for the Raiders, although not able to fully incorporate their new strategy, they still managed to run and jump their way to excellent finishes over both days of the meet.

The Raiders opened off their 2009 spring track and field season with the 1600m run, the most popular event of the meet, with 158 entered runners. Despite the stiff competition, however, Scarsdale was able to post times comparable with the best in the tri-state area. Senior captain Miles Kirwin, a veteran in the event, led the way for the Raiders, running his way to a twelfth place finish, in a time of 4 minutes, 39.52 seconds. Kirwin was closely followed by Kohn, who, despite not running his typical event, the 3200m run, still managed to cross the finish line just four seconds behind Kirwin, in 4 minutes, 43.69 seconds. In addition to Kohn, junior Johnathan Peruski finished in 55th place overall, in a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 57.11 seconds. Said Peruski, Red Raider Relays was the first test of the season and I wanted to prove that my work from winter and spring training had paid off. I knew what it took to run consistently under 5 minutes, which set me up well for the mile and hopefully I can build off of that in the 800m later in the season.

The Red Raider Relays also featured a 1600m run for the girls, a rare divergence from their normal event, the 1500m run. Again, in one of Scarsdales best events, multiple Raiders were able to produce top finishes in a field of 105 runners. Sophomore Alexandra Cappello headed the Raider 1500m crew, placing third overall, in a time of 5 minutes, 19.66 seconds, less than seven seconds off the winner. Ricks, running the event for the first time, finished in an impressive time of 5 minutes, 48.76 seconds, which earned her 25th place. Said Ricks, My first mile proved to be a real learning experience. It's a very different race than the 800m because pacing becomes much more important. It was nice to try a different race and test my endurance. In addition to Ricks, sophomore Kathyrn Peruski finished in 41st place, running her way to a time of 5 minutes, 58.39 seconds.

The 3200m run concluded the open distance events, as the longest event offered in the spring season. Scarsdales lone male competitor was senior Ilkyu Lee, placed sixteenth overall, in a time of 10 minutes, 5.19 seconds.

In the second largest event of the meet with 143 athletes competing, Scarsdale entered two of their best middle distance sprinters. Juniors Matt Usukumah and Neal Yousefian both participated in the 400m dash, a unique blend of raw speed and endurance. Usukumah, who is shaping up to be a top contender in the event at the Sectional level, improved upon his already impressive time, setting a new personal record in a time of 54.41 seconds, which subsequently landed him 39th place. Yousefian followed close behind, in a time of 58.02 seconds, which qualified him for 86th place. However, despite his talents in the sprinting events, Yousefian plans on switching full-time to the distance group under the personal supervision of Clark. Said Yousefian, I made the switch into the long distance group because the short distance group just wasnt working out for me, and I felt like I was doing it for the wrong reasons, and since I have made the switch, I have been enjoying the long distance team and plan on bumping up my races to include the 800m, and maybe even longer if thats where I am needed.

On the girls side, Junior Ilana Balter ran a 400m dash of her own, finishing in 45th place, in a time of 1 minute, 4.88 seconds. Fellow classmate Kristin OHara finished in twentieth place in the 110m hurdles, in 18.10 seconds. Caitlin Orlando was the next Raider to run her event, the 100 meter dash. The event, which tends to garner a lot of publicity, is not necessarily as glamorous as it appears in other venues, and often, an entire race and weeks worth of training can be wasted with just a simple mistake at the starting line. Orlando, however, made no such mistakes, and sprinted her way to a 14.61 second finish, which earned her a 57th place finish.

Up and coming sophomore David Faust, in addition to Orlando, competed in the 100m dash. Faust placed 38th overall, out of almost 100 competitors. His time, of 12.03 seconds, also stacked up well against other sophomores in the event, as Faust was fifth among the sophomores who competed. Faust also competed in the 200m dash as well, with an impressive time of 24.39 seconds, accompanied by a 30th place finish. Senior Sadaatsu Kora finished just behind Faust in the 200m dash, and crossed the line a mere .11 seconds behind Faust. Koras efforts earned him 34th place.

Scarsdales field team, despite being relatively small compared to other schools teams, is one of the strongest jumping and throwing teams in the county, and the Raiders were able to showcase their talents in their first meet of the season. In the long jump, junior captain Roscoe Balter took home a second place finish, with a lengthy jump of 21 feet, 2.75 inches. In addition to Balter, fellow junior captain Arthur Whyte placed thirteenth, with a leap of 19 feet, 4.25 inches. Said Whyte, It was a good meet for us. We learned a lot about the younger part of the team, and they showed how good they can be. I think we have a good group of kids who can do well on the varsity level now and in the years to come. Consistent with Whytes comment was the performance of junior Jack Balter, who participated in the high jump, his signature event. Balter finished ninth overall, with an impressive, 5 foot, 6.0 inch jump.

Juniors Laura Lutzker and Cleo Palmer-Poroner also participated in the high jump, placing seventh, and twentieth, with jumps of 4 feet, 9 inches, and 4 feet, 3 inches, respectively. Said Palmer-Poroner, I thought Laura and I did fairly well, and I'm pushing for a personal record. I'm very close, which is exciting for me, and we are both going to be putting in some hard workouts to prepare for Leagues.

It is workouts such as those Palmer-Poroner references that enable Scarsdale to consistently have some of the top jumpers in the section, and this year should prove to be no different. Senior captain Sumire Takamatsu, a versatile athlete capable of doing any event from jumps to middle distance sprints, used this meet to showcase her talents in front of the many spectators. Takamatsu competed first in the long jump, placing 18th in the event, with a distance of 14 feet, 9 inches. At the conclusion of the long jump, Takamatsu proceeded to place tenth in the triple jump by jumping 31 feet, 7.5 inches. In addition to Takamatsu, junior Christie Civetta finished 26th in the shot put and 20th in the discus throw, with tosses of 25 feet, 7 inches, and 68 feet, 6 inches, respectively.

Rounding out the meet for the Raiders were the relays, which are typically the last and most important events of the meet. As such, the Raiders knew that they had to rise to the challenge, and carried out this notion with a series of remarkable performances. The first relay, the boys 4x200m relay, composed of Usukumah, Kora, Roscoe Balter, and senior Dean Perfetti, placed twelfth, in a time of a 1 minute, 40.16seconds.

The girls team followed in the path of the boys performance, as they, too, posted a time indicative of their intense training and dedication. The girls 4x200m relay, of senior captain Courtney Kaplan, Takamatsu, and juniors Kara Hunersen and Sarah Ballan finished fourth in their heat and tenth overall, in a time of 2 minutes, 2.94 seconds. Following the example of the 4x200m relay, the girls 4x400m relay, comprised of Orlando, Takamatsu, freshman Alison Elliot, and senior Molly Bloom posted a noteworthy time of their own. Said Orlando, It was our first 4x400m relay together and we didnt really know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised by everyones performance and I think that our current 4x400m team will stay together and compete at all of the big meets in the future.

The last events of the meet were the boys and girls 4x800m relay, events that are extraordinarily competitive, as they is the only long distance relay, and it is rare that a school have four runners capable of running the 800m legs, which, much like the 400m dash, require a balance between raw speed and muscular and cardiovascular endurance. The girls relay, of Cappello, Ricks, Peruski, and sophomore Moriah Trenk, placed eighth overall in a time of 10 minutes, 25.70 seconds; however, their place was not indicative of the race, as the Raiders were in contention for fifth place the entire race, and missed by just twelve seconds.

For the boys, the senior relay, composed of Kohn, Kirwin, Lee, and senior Nikita Levin, acknowledged that they only had a handful more races in which they could compete as a team. As a result, the team, in order to not waste a race, competes at an extremely high level. Their determination paid off on Saturday, as they placed fourth overall, in a time of 8 minutes, 31.01 seconds, just three seconds off of the third place time.

Although satisfied with his teams performance in the early season, Clark knows that as the Raiders advance into the heart of the season, they will need to step up in almost every event if they want to compete with rising powerhouse New Rochelle High School, who, as of now, looks to be the favorite for the League 1A title. Said Clark, Were behind looking up right now at New Rochelle. My hope is that we can beat them, but as long as we put up a good fight and give them a run for it I will be fine. For the girls, the reality is that with both Ursuline and New Rochelle in the League, it will be extremely tough to win, but if we race, and not just run, then Im satisfied.

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