Jan. 27, 2017
With the postseason not too far away – the OCIAA league championship meet is set to take place on Friday, Jan. 27 – Monticello High School's indoor track and field teams are tuning up during regular-season competition, including qualifying meets.
The hallways of the middle and high school (as well as the frigid outdoors) are used as practice facilities for the boys and girls runners, sprinters and jumpers under the guidance of head coach Tim Billias and assistant coach Matt Buddenhagen.
Leading the charge are seniors Sam Bisland, My-Kell Farrar and Jillian McEneaney.
“This year is my comeback,” Sam said. “I was injured last year, so I've spent this season training wisely and carefully. It feels great, and I hope that more girls will join the team next year to carry the torch.”
“I wasn't always this fast; it's important to work hard day in and day out, even on the days when practice is canceled due to weather,” My-Kell said. “I've been the past few years tuning into my body, working hard and taking advantage of my God-given abilities.”
“I started this season faster than I ended last season, so I'm excited to see how I progress during these next few weeks,” Jillian said. “Race-walking is a competitive sport, and I'm always watched very carefully during meets, so the stress is on, I have the potential to keep racing until March.”
With a lot of polished senior experience on the boys’ team, a push to get to the next level has been the focus for the veteran group. The team's biggest highlight as a group was the boys third place finish at the OCIAA Division III meet on Jan. 20 at West Point. Cornwall was the overall winner; and Monticello was just two points behind.
“These teams always have strong competitors so Coach Buddenhagen and I were really proud that our athletes were able to step up and prove that they can compete with these Orange County schools,” Billias said.
“As individualistic a sport that track is, it still has that team feel, which is why we're really trying to encourage more girls to join next said, Sam said. “Anyone can do it. All you need are sneakers and a good attitude.”
Even as the Panthers are at the top of their individual performance, the message of constant improvement will push the indoor track athletes even further.
“We train hard, but we also try to maintain a comfortable environment that includes and values all our athletes,” said Billias. “Running is a character-building sport and qualities such as sportsmanship and encouragement really drive a team to higher levels. We are really proud of how our team continually supports each other.”
Although the wintry weather has interrupted the team’s practice schedule, the Panthers have realized that part of their commitment to the team is making sure they train and take care of themselves outside of practice, Buddenhagen added.
“Consistency is important and hard to come by during
indoor track,” he said. “But our team is self-motivated.”