Girls track ends indoor season with conference win

Team dominates with both numbers and attitude

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McNally

Girls track and field take first place at CSL South Girls Indoor Championships at GBN on March 17

The girls varsity and JV track teams won first place with a total of 138 points and 191.5 points respectively at the CSL South Girls Indoor Championships hosted by GBN on Mar. 17.  

The championship marked the end of the indoor track season where a total of six schools competed.

Head coach Bob Spagnoli said many girls managed to hit personal records, which helped the team accumulate enough points to secure a win.

“Fiona Walker is a sophomore, and had a nine inch PR in the pole vault. That’s huge for a one week PR. I mean, that’s something that we didn’t expect, and something we’re really optimistic about,” he said.

Senior Abby Ryan mentioned junior Phoebe Paster, who hit a PR of 1.52 meters in the high jump.

We tell the girls, ‘Don’t be afraid to be good. Don’t fear it’”

— Bob Spagnoli

Spagnoli mentioned that establishing these connections and striving for personal growth are what create a well rounded teammate– and that is worth much more than being the fastest athlete on the team.

“Phoebe jumped amazingly well, and won first place in her event, so that was super exciting,” said Ryan.

While the girls were hitting PR after PR, the timers didn’t run quite as smoothly. Senior Maggie McNally said that in the 4×800 relay, the refs miscounted the number of laps each team had run.

“The refs at that meet were really bad, so New Trier and Niles West ran around one less lap than everybody else,” said McNally.

While the teams didn’t have to rerun the race again, that mishap coupled with other poorly timed events delayed the conference meet far longer than expected.

“I think the timer wasn’t even working at one point, so they had to wait for 10 to 15 minutes to even start one of the races,” said McNally.

Despite these challenges, the girls still ended their difficult indoor season strong. Because of the construction, which entailed the demolition of the fieldhouse, the girls were deprived of an indoor track.

“We’re training in hallways, we’re training in gymnasiums, we’re training in really unconventional ways. That makes it a real challenge– imagine a basketball team never practicing on a basketball court, and then going to play a game,” said Spagnoli.

While physical challenges were one thing, mental challenges were another. Sophomore Gabriela Manzano Pashinian said that the girls have had to learn how to develop the right mindset as a teammate, not just as a racer.

“I feel like when you either foul a jump, or don’t run as well as you thought you would, that really puts you in a bad attitude, and you really don’t want to cheer for your other teammates. It puts you and your teammates in a bad mood, and that affects the team,” she said.

Because of this, the team makes a point of cheering for others, especially in the 4×400 relay to signal the end of the meet.

“I just learned how important it is to cheer on my teammates, and be there for one another. Motivating each other is really important because it’s all mental running, and if you have other people helping you out, it makes things very fun and enjoyable,” said sophomore Katie Sarnoff.

One way the team establishes close bonds is with a carb fest, more commonly referred to as “carbos.” Covid made it difficult to host carbos for the indoor season, so their first carbo was on Apr. 5.

“Usually the seniors’ parents bring in pasta and pizza, and a bunch of carbs. They also bring in dessert, and everyone comes in, grabs food, and eats outside,” said Pashinian.

Carbos allow for girls in different events who might not otherwise interact to have a chance to get to know each other.

“We tell the girls, ‘Don’t be afraid to be good. Don’t fear it,’” he said. 

Spagnoli said that it is normal for players to be nervous before meets.

“People get a little nervous— it’s called butterflies. You see it all the time. Among the freshmen, they might say ‘I shouldn’t be able to do this,’ or ‘I shouldn’t be in this meet.’ But we’re not putting anybody in the event to watch them fail. We put kids in events to watch them succeed.”