Young and Hungry

RMHS freshman runner heads to State with team support

Girls’ Track finished another successful season at their Sectional meet on Thursday, May 9. One athlete, freshman Lauren Schiele, became eligible for State finals with a qualifying 400 meter time of 59.11 seconds. 

“All of the season had been building up to this one point, and this [sectional race] is where I needed to do well,” Schiele said.

Schiele shared the anxiety she faced before her sectionals race which ultimately led to her qualification. She recounted pacing the floor as her race drew near. 

Combatting that anxiety, Schiele recalled the moment where she channeled her negative thoughts into a strong desire to perform well for her team, the same desire that earned her a spot at state finals. 

A little over a week after her sectionals run, Schiele ran a time of 59.04 seconds at state finals. 

 “Lauren [Schiele] stands out,” Head Coach Steven Henry said. “She went from [running] 64-65 seconds to running 59 [seconds], qualifying for the State meet.”

Schiele’s 400m time decreased by almost six seconds throughout the season, an impressive feat for the event she competed in, as most athletes in this event only decrease their times by a few seconds.

To get where she is now, Schiele’s raw talent and vigorous work shined through, but another impact was the students and coaches that believed in her capability to make the cut. 

“[Senior Dakota Stewart] was the captain of the sprint groups,” Henry said. “She did a great job of challenging kids and making sure people are pushing themselves”. 

Stewart brought an energy to the team that lit a spark in teammates. She encouraged athletes to give every race and every practice their best effort possible. 

I try my best to be a role model for how we are supposed to act and perform” Stewart said. 

Much like Schiele, distance captain senior Andrea Vera inspires distance athletes in the same manner.

“I help with organizing, running practice and setting an example for the other kids, especially the younger ones,” Vera said. She has been running for RMHS track since her Freshman year and has made great friends during her time on the track team. 

Those bonds and memories make practices more enjoyable. 

Vera and teammate Senior Dana Lapinski remember a time during practice when a fire truck came up from behind their running pack and honked their horn, firefighters laughing playfully as they drove past them. The distance group was startled but soon the encounter became a inside joke. 

Their kindness towards newcomers is evident, not only in their relationships with other students, but with their coach. 

“I learned so much from the distance girls I was with,” Coach Colleen Vrshek said. “The seniors really stepped up to lead the girls and showed and helped me with the routines each day.”

Learning the ropes to become a new distance coach was made as easy as possible with a welcoming attitude from all of the runners. 

One athlete in specific showed growth and selflessness which stood out to Vrshek.

“[Freshman distance athlete Julenia Cox] always had a positive attitude even if there was a tough workout and was always trying her best while competing.” Vrshek said. “When faced with tough situations, she has shown… a positive attitude and that impressed me so much”. 

Cox ran junior varsity, sometimes varsity, for the team and finished her first track season at Conference with a personal record in the 800 meter. Cox is an example of many of the girls on the track team, willing to learn and adapt.

 Captains like Stewart, Vera and jumping captain Senior Julia Zumski encouraged the dedication and success of younger runners like Cox this season. 

With strong leadership from coaches and captains, the girls track team acquired goals that used to seem far out of reach. The team placed second in a meet at Minooka, the highest position that the team has held for a long time. 

Henry and possibly Vrshek plan to continue their roles as coaches next season. Girls track puts effort into every season and with freshman talent like Schiele, RMHS will come back stronger than ever next year.