Seahorses Track Team Races To Penn Relays
Far Rockaway High School's outdoor track team prepared for their visit to the historic Penn Relays by traveling last Tuesday to participate in the Vacation Meet at Curtis High School in Staten Island.
Days before they travel to compete against hundreds of high schools from not only the country but throughout the world, the Seahorses were nervous but also confident that they will do well against the best.
The 4x100 meter relay team of Ishma Mcletchie, Jimitri Lalanne, Wilson Martinez and Steve Burnett will travel along with head coach Eric Stein to Penn University's Franklin Field to compete.
Though they are rising as one of the top 4x100 meter teams in the PSAL, the Seahorses are realistic about their outlook.
Far Rockaway has consistently finished with times of 45 seconds and slight above that mark. But other teams from the country and other parts of the world who compete in the Penn Relays, the largest track and field outdoor event in the nation, have done better than the Seahorses.
They may not be the favorites, but the 4x100 meter team that will compete on Friday afternoon are gearing up to do well as they aim for the finish line.
Eric Stein- Head Coach
The Seahorses 4x100 meter team has finished consistently in the top ten throughout the PSAL and the Fredrick Douglass Academy VI teacher has been happy with the results.
Stein is brimming with confidence but he is also realistic that it will take a top notch performance to qualify for a medal. Teams from around the country and club teams throughout the world will be a strict challenge.
"Believe it or not, I rested them for Penn. I felt like we've been racing a lot," Stein said.
"We're consistently doing well but I kind of felt like I was over racing them. I wanted them to do well and be strong for Penn. They just came off four days of no practice, no nothing. Just rest."
Stein says the experience of going to the Penn Relays is one of the factors that have lifted his 13 boys and girls runners o perform well throughout the PSAL track season.
"I know they love it. We call the 4x100 team the workhouse of our team. It's the best event that we have going for us right now."
"It feels great as a team because it gives our team some attention and we feel this is the best team we've had in four years. It brings attention to some of the other runners on our team."
The 17-year old senior is considering colleges such as the University of New Haven and a few others once he graduates. Burnett smiles anytime he's asked what it means to compete in the Penn Relays.
"So when we qualified, it was a whole exciting feel for me and Ishma (Mcletchie) both. This is our last year doing this and we always wanted to run in Penn," Burnett said.
"We wanted to see what the competition was like because we look it on the television and now you see and you feel it that you're running against the best teams."
The other senior on the 4x100 meter relay team can't contain his excitement once the he steps onto the famed 8-lane Franklin Field track.
"I'm going to do the same thing I always do but most likely when I go to Penn and I see a whole bunch of people in the crowd, I'm think I'm going to something spectacular with all the adrenalin," Mcletchie joked. "You scared when you get out to the line but soon as that gun goes off, you don't hear nothing; all you think about is go as fast as you can. That pops up in my head."
The 15-year old freshman travels from his home in East New York, Brooklyn to attend Frederick Douglass Academy VI which is located inside of the Far Rockaway Campus.
"I'm happy. We're going there and we hope to get first," Martinez said. "I'm hoping we can win it all. This is my first year of track, practicing and trying to get better."
The 15-year old sophomore doesn't hide the fact that his high level of confidence pushes to him to compete.
"On ESPN, I saw an event and I think it was the 100 meter (race), and I saw this guy running and I just wanted to be like him," Lalanne said. "I like competition. I like running. I don't like being cocky but I sometimes I think I'm nice. I have a lot of confidence. In most of my heats, I come first or second."
Lalanne doesn't just focus solely on winning. He wants to enjoy the memories surrounding an event, which attracts close to 100,000 people in the three days the tournament takes place.
The big crowds in the Franklin Field stands will be one just one amazing part of a weekend Lalanne hopes to remember for years to come.
"It's about business and having fun. If we think it's just about business, we're not going to keep the memories."