Indoor Track Wins State Championship
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In what has already been quite a successful year for Beachwood athletes, the girls’ indoor track and field team brought home some more hardware for the school from this past weekend’s Indoor State Championship meet in Akron.
The team, which qualified nine girls to compete in the state meet, placed first in the team competition and also had two individual state champions in Leah Roter (1600 meter) and Mia Knight (200 meter).
Knight and Roter have both won previous individual state championships, but this team championship was a little different.
“I was so excited for our entire team,” Knight said. “It was really exciting being able to cheer everybody on, especially the freshmen, this being their first state meet.”
Knight specifically recognized freshmen Maddie Alexander (eighth in triple jump) and Ashley Perryman (seventh in long jump).
“[Winning a state championship] was one of our main goals coming into the season,” Knight said. “So, for me, it felt really good to become a two-time state champion.”
Prior to the state tournament, Coach Willie Smith explained in an email that he is proud of the team’s performance this winter.
“In order to compete in the Indoor State Championships, you have to rank in the top 18 performances during the season,” Smith wrote. “We have a number of events [that made the cut]. We have a small team compared to other schools; however, we have “big” performances.”
The Beachwood girls also took medals in the 60 meter dash (which Knight took second in), 200 meter dash (Knight won) and the 1600 meter run (Roter won).
Additionally, freshman Ashley Perryman, junior Katelyn Perryman, sophomore Ashaunti Griffin and Mia Knight won 2nd place in the 4×200 meter relay.
A large group of underclassmen also had impressive performances that helped to secure the team’s first place medal, including sophomore Heidi Maier, freshman Mira Wooley, sophomore Abigal Bendis and freshman Maddie Alexander.
“We compete in Indoor track because most of our toughest competition competes in the Indoor season,” Smith wrote. “And if we don’t compete, we will fall significantly behind those teams as we move into the outdoor season.”
But at the same time, indoor track is less intense than the sanctioned outdoor sport in the spring.
“Indoor track is not OHSAA sanctioned, so it’s not really a state [recognized] sport,” junior Katelyn Perryman said. “It’s a lot less competitive just because not everyone does it.”
Knight added that some of the events in indoor track are slightly different from outdoor track.
“The track is a 300 (meter track) instead of a 400,” Knight said. “Instead of the 100 meter dash, or 100 hurdles, it’s 60 meter dash and 60 meter hurdles. There is no 4×100 meter relay.”
Perryman and Smith explained that indoor track is still a good way to train for the upcoming outdoor track season.
“The more elite people do indoor track to get stronger for outdoor [track], so essentially it’s just a way to get stronger for outdoor, which is the big season,” Perryman said.
The team practiced intensely this season for two to two and a half hours each weekday.
“Fridays [were] pre-meet days where we just shake out, stretch, practice handoffs or do blocks,” Knight said. “Mondays [were] more focused on strength because [that day was] coming off of a meet, and we [were] really focusing on trying to run.”
On Tuesdays, the team went to the Spire Athletic Complex in Geneva for better training and practice on a standard-sized track.
“…We [got] a lot of running done there because it’s actually a track, and we aren’t just practicing on the carpet, so [we were able to get] another good conditioning day,” Knight explained. “We [worked] on handoffs because [we were] able to get the perfect measure on the real track and [practiced] blocks.”
During January and February, meets were held regularly at locations such as Youngstown, Kent State, Akron and SPIRE Institute. There were no meets at BHS since the high school track is too short.
“The high school is too small [for meets],” team captain Mia Knight said. “[Many] colleges…have 300 meter tracks, and we have a track [at BHS], but it’s 120 meters, and that’s not good [enough].”
Katelyn Perryman is also excited about the energy that this year’s freshmen have brought.
“We’ve got some new blood,” she said. “They’re all really enthusiastic, excited, and we’ve gotten a bigger team. We’ve gotten a lot more guys to come out, which was one of our goals from last year… to improve and diversify our team… because your odds are better when you have more people.”
Freshman Priyanka Shrestha recommends indoor track to other students looking to stay in shape.
“It’s a really good way to make sure you keep in shape…in the off-season,” Shrestha said.
Freshman Lali Ramadan also recommended indoor track.
“If you don’t want to compete, it’s also a really great way to stay in shape, but the competing is a bonus because you can see yourself improving with every time you go in,” Ramadan said.
“We’re helping each other out; I’ll help some of the girls with blocks, or they’ll tell me stuff about high jump, and since now we have a lot of events that we normally really haven’t had in the past…we’re all able to learn something new,” Knight added.
Overall, it looks like the success of the track team is built on a team work ethic that anyone can get behind.
And this team ethic will carry on with the outdoor track season beginning this week. Check in with The Beachcomber’s Sports Twitter for updates on the outdoor track team.