2008-03-28 / Sports

Far Rockaway Track Advances To Penn Relays

By Elio Velez

The 2008 Beach Channel Lady Dolphins girls soccer team. Photo by Peter Borriello The 2008 Beach Channel Lady Dolphins girls soccer team. Photo by Peter Borriello When Eric Stein returned from a leave of absence to Frederick Douglass Academy VI, the teacher wondered if he could put back together the track team that he had once coached.

Stein returned to the school, which is located inside of the Far Rockaway High School campus, last fall. He was previously the head coach of the crosscountry track team two years ago and the success Stein had with that team fueled him to re-start a dormant track program again.

Some of the student-athletes who had participated with Stein were eager to join up again. Throughout the many practices over the winter, their continuous hard work and drive would pay off last week in the first PSAL outdoor track event at Randalls Island.

The Far Rockaway/FDA VI 4x100 relay team did finished ninth out of 44 teams which competed in the varsity race at Icahn Stadium.

But the race was a triumphant accomplishment as their finish time of 47.37 was good enough for the Seahorses to qualify for the historic Penn Relays.

"They were more than wiling to come back. They wanted to run," an exuberant Stein said. "We've been training since January and competing at PAL events at the Armory. They got a sense of the competition.

Stein knew specifically on February 20 that his 4x100 relay team of seniors Ishma Mcletchie and Steve Burnett, sophomore Jimitri Lalanne and freshman Wilson Martinez were ready to compete when the spring season began.

To qualify for the Penn Relays, any PSAL team who finished in the 4x100 relay under a time of 48 seconds would qualify to compete.

"I started to think that we might be able to do it," Stein said. "I knew when the outdoor season came; they were mentally and physically prepared."

Stein says that any track and field high school runner who wants to go against the best competition throughout the country aims to compete in the Penn Relays.

The event, which began in 1895, will take place on the weekend of April 24 at Franklin Field on the campus of Penn University. It is the oldest and largest track and field event in the United States.

Thousands of high school runners from throughout the country compete and over 1000,000 people will attend for the three days of the competition.

Stein says the prestige of competing against the best should fuel his team to achieve their best. But he won't put too much pressure.

"I don't want to overcoach them. They have the skills, basics and the know-all. They know what they have to do out there," Stein said.

"The trick is not putting too much pressure. They have a goal to reach and I will let them reach it."

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