Features Girls Track and Field

Training To Run, Not Running To Train

Written by Seth Hartz

It’s no secret Hamilton girls have claimed victory after victory in the past few years. Girls basketball and volleyball won Regional Championships. Going beyond what was thought possible is now an every day occurrence. Advancing to the State Semifinals for the first time ever in girls basketball creates pride. The feeling of being a part of something great has kept people dedicated since the beginning of time. There’s hope of a championship every time a season starts.

With all the focus on those two sports, Girls Track & Field has been overlooked and possibly ignored. But to say they’ve been doing “okay” is an understatement. The team has been off-the-charts amazing. This year alone, they’re sending 23 incredibly dedicated athletes to the Team State Finals. To get a larger picture of what’s been happening, I asked three of them some questions.

Racquelle Burdick is a freshman. She runs the individual 100 and 200 meter dash, and both the 4×100 and 4×200 meter relay. Coming in to high school, she “heard stories of having to run 12 200’s at practice.” When I inquired about the biggest difference between the two levels she said, “I think the biggest difference between varsity track and 8th grade track is the intensity.” The sheer intensity and push for hard work has a positive impact on running times. “Over the season I learned that all the hard work pays off. I ran my fastest 200m dash at Regionals with a time of 26.1, .3 seconds away from the record.” The culture of winning is definitely in good hands with Racquelle being around for three more, hopefully successful, years to come.

Sarah Genzink, a sophomore, runs the 400 meter dash and relay and the 800 relay. Last year, her split time of the 400 meter relay was 1:02.3. This year she improved, by running a 1:01.5 she shaved 0.8 seconds off of her time. When I asked her how much hard work and dedication it took, she said “The improvement part came from just showing up to every practice and meet ready to do my very best and leave it all out on the track.” Just cementing the fact that practice makes progress. She also didn’t forget to thank her teammates for the help throughout the season. “I think most importantly my teammates have pushed me to be the very best that I can be. Brooke Jipping, Tessa Blankenship, and Rayah Blood all ran in that relay and ran some amazing splits to help us qualify.” Having teammates with the same dedication and passion for winning can really help propel someone to higher greatness. I also asked her if she could get her time to under a minute by senior year. Sarah seemed optimistic about achieving that goal. “I do hope that I can run under a minute in future meets. But as I have learned, that will take a lot of hard work…”

Rayah Blood, a junior, has been very successful in her track career. She does both the individual and relay of the 100m and 200m. This year at Regionals, she won the 100 meter dash with a time of 13.04. The third year in a row for her. She said she was “very happy after winning the 100 meter dash for a third year.” It’s difficult to stay as consistent as Rayah has for the duration of a high school track career. I asked her if she thinks she can win it 4 times in a row, her response was “one of my goals for my senior season is to be the Regional champ for all four years of track.” In case you aren’t entirely convinced that she’s part of the winning culture, Rayah placed 2nd in the MHSAA Division 3 State Diving Championship this past season. As a multi-sport athlete it’s difficult to balance your training of each sport, but somehow she can do it without making a fuss. In order for her to win again, she has a plan. “I will continue to work hard in track and train during the offseason so that it’ll be easier to reach my goal.” It’s not an elaborate plan, but it’s the best way to improve.

Only three people were interviewed, but there were so many others I wanted to talk to. I would have interviewed everyone on the team if I had enough time. The girls that graduated this year are Claire DeRoo, Brittany Driesenga, Allie Jennings, Sidney Peters, Sophie Poel, Shyla Tomsa, Grace Turner, and Hannah Wettlaufer. Their contribution to the Track & Field team and the community will not be forgotten. Thanks girls for the dedication you displayed this season and to the others before it!

The winning culture in Hamilton isn’t going away any time soon. Waiting for it to leave would be a preposterous waste of time. The future of Hamilton Girls sports is bright, so put on some sunglasses, otherwise it’ll blind you.

Authors note: The girls placed 4th at the Team State Finals. Two 1st place finishes by Rayah Blood in the 100 and 200 meter dash. And a 3rd place finish in the 100 meter hurdles by Ashley Ritsema.