Port Washington has a new team called the Port Washington Track and Field Club, which is in its third year. The first year there were three people; last year the team grew to four. This year the team consists of eight athletes. At this time the membership is small but the performances are impressive. All members attend Weber Middle School. They are continuing to prove that Port Washington has the good fortune of coming up with exceptional track and field athletes over many years. Track and field athletes at the high school level have won county, state, national, and international championships. Additionally, they have also broken county, Long Island, state, national, and world records, during high school and even after they graduate.
The first to break a world record was Ellin Minkiw, who held several national records first and then broke the world record for the indoor mile race walk in 1974. Five years later, Chris Shea also broke the one-mile race walk record when she won the national championship at Madison Square Garden. The same year, she went to a race which she thought was a one-mile race. When she got there, she was told it was the national one-hour championship. Her reply was, "Okay, I'll attempt it." Each athlete goes as far as they can in one hour. Chris not only went the farthest in the hour championship, but she won her second national championship and also broke the world record. Chris accomplished these two records when she was a freshman at Georgetown University.
In the same Schreiber graduation class as Chris was Neni Davis Lewis. Neni was one of the top college shot putters in the country. While at Saint John, Neni was chosen for the USA World University Team to compete against the best university athletes in the world. Only two athletes are chosen for each event for each country. While at the World University Games, the coaches from the other country said that "pound for pound" she was the best shot putter in the world." Neni is five foot two and 135 pounds. A woman shot putter should be at least 190 pounds and five feet nine inches. She went into masters' competitions for people over 40 years of age. She traveled to Australia where she competed in the World Championships for athletes 40 and older. Neni entered the competition in the 40- to 45-age group for the pentathlon, which consists of the shot put, discus, javelin, hammer throw, and the 20-pound weight throw. She won the events and broke a world record. After that, she broke her own record four times. Then on her 45th birthday, she broke the world record for the next five-year age group.
The above has been some of the past. So what is going on now? Eight athletes competed for the team in either cross country, and/or indoor track and field. During cross country this past fall, Kyra Schor competed in the first cross country meet at Sunken Meadow Park where she placed second in the 13- to 14-year-old division. A few days later, she broke her foot and had to sit out the rest of the season. In the last local cross country meet, Ryan Schwartz competed at Sunken Meadow Park at the Long Island Track and Field Junior Olympics Championship, where he won the race for his age and qualified for the regional championships held in Lake George, New York. That competition was for those who qualified from the rest of New York associations and the entire New England region. Once again, Ryan qualified for the next level, which was the Junior Olympic National Championship held at Spokam, Washington, where there were 276 runners in his race from across the United States. Ryan finished 69th.
Weronica Gil and Erica Carris competed in the Long Island Junior Olympics, where they finished second and fourth respectively. Both also qualified for the Regional Junior Olympic Championships held at Lake George, New York. Both ran well but did not qualify for the Junior Olympic National Championship.
The first Long Island Track and Field Association indoor meet was held at Suffolk Community College. The competition was held in the physical education complex on the indoor track. At the first meet, the one mile race walk was held first, where Port Washington Track and Field Club entry was Kyra Schor. Kyra only had four short practices for the event. To save time because the rental for the facility was expensive, all the sections for the race walk were put into one race. There were three different groups, the youth, which are divided into two year age groups up to 19 years of age, the open group, which consists of anyone 14 and up, and the masters' division which starts at 40 years of age and is then divided into 5-year age groups. When a person reached 14, they can go into their age group or into the open group. When the starting gun was fired, the men and women took off, and Kyra started moving quickly into the back of the first five people. Behind her was a college woman who caught up to Kyra. The two then took turns passing each other, giving the audience an interesting race to watch. Eventually, the college athlete with experience and age pulled ahead of Kyra and cross the finish line only a few yards ahead. Kyra still won the 13- to 14-year-old group because the college athlete was in the open women's division.
Kyra's main event was the 55-meter hurdles, which she also won. Then she ran the 800-meter run (half a mile) and finished fourth. The next runner was Maddy Reis who ran the 200-meter dash, which she won. Then Maddy went into the 55-meter dash, where she finished a close second.
Because of her fine 200-meter dash showing, she was asked by three girls who wanted to run a 4 x 200-meter relay if she would join them and run the last leg of the relay. Maddy gladly accepted and helped them finish second. Maddy's younger brother who had never competed before ran the 55-meter dash and the 200-meter dash, finishing in the middle of the pack for his age group, 9- to 10-years of age.
The second Long Island Association Meet was also held in Suffolk Community College. The first event was the one-mile race walk and Kyra won the event again. Then she ran the 55-meter hurdles finishing 3rd. Her third individual event was the 400-meter dash. Maddy ran two events, the 55-meter and the 200-meter dash with a third and second finish.
Erica Carras first run the 55-meter hurdles which she won, and then she ran 800-meter where she started off in the middle of the pack for the first half of the race. Then she started passing the girls in front of her until she was in first place and she crossed the finish line first. The last race of the day was a 4 x 200-meter relay. The three girls, Erica, Maddy, and Kyra were joined by Emily Browning. All the girls ran well staying close to the lead team and finished a close third.
The third and final meet was also held at Suffolk Community College. This meet was the Long Island Track and Field Championship for those who were members of the Long Island Association. Teams from other associations were allowed to compete, but received other awards. The others came from New York City, New Jersey, Westchester, and other parts of New York, Philadelphia, and New England. The one-mile race walk again was the first event with Kyra Schor competing in it and again winning for the third time. Then she competed in the 800-meter run. She started off running fifth, just behind the lead pack. Halfway through the race, she moved up and finished in second.
Sara Giraldo ran the 55-meter hurdles getting off slower than the other hurdlers, but gradually caught up with them one by one, crossing the finish line in first place. Her second race was the 200, where she finished in second place. Erica Carras ran the 1500-meter run, where she started out in third place. With two laps to go, she started to pass the two in front of her. With one lap to go, she moved into first place and opened up 25 to 40 yards on the second and third place girls. With 100 yards to go, the three runners started their sprints. The second and third looked as though they would fly pass Erica. With only 40 yards to go, Sara hollered to Erica to sprint and with her speed ability, she took off running away from them to win. Erica and Kyra both have the unique ability of having both speed and endurance which allow them to run almost any even well.
Another successful runner was Laura Werle who placed in three events. Laura first ran the 55-meter dash where she was second. Then the 200 meters was taken on where she finished third. Her last race was one she had not trained for, the 400-meter dash, which is considered by many experts as the hardest race of all track events because it is a spring for a quarter mile. Laura finished second in the race.
For Sara and Laura, this was their first experience competing in a big track and field meet. For most it is scary and stressful. All three of the new members performed as though they had been competing and training for a long time. The girls were going to run the 4 x 200 relay, but it had to be canceled because the meet was running over time. Peter Reis ran the 55-meter dash and the 200-meter dash for his second meet ever.
At least one of the five girls placed in every one of the track events and for a small group, that was exceptional for a championship meet. For the championship, the girls won a total of nine medals. For the three meets, they won 23 awards. Ryan would have moved up to the next age group and was going to try for the record for the 3000-meter run (2 miles). Last year he broke the record for the 3000-meter run for the 11 to 12 age group. He was not able to attend because he got sick.
For the girls, they had won four first-place Long Island Track and Field Championships. Sara Giraldo won the 55 hurdles, Maddy Reis won the 55-meter dash, Erica Carras won the 1500-meter run, and Kyra Schor won the one-mile race walk. Laura Werle also had an exceptional day; she had two-second place medals in the 55-meter dash and the 400-meter dash. She also had a third place in the 200-meter dash.
Overall, the team had an outstanding season and is looking forward to the outdoor season at Weber.