By Anya Tikka
ELDRED Four indoor track athletes from Eldred Central School traveled to New York City last Friday to compete in the New Balance Indoor Nationals at the New York Armory.
They each met the qualifying criteria to participate quite an accomplishment for a relatively small school.
“It’s pretty unusual for a small school to have four athletes qualify,” Eldred Coach Frank Schorling said. “The fact that four kids from little Eldred competed in this elite meet is an amazing thing.”
Alex Campanella, Christine Donnelly and Hunter Proscia are runners and Breanna Brucher is a pole vaulter. Campanella is a junior, while Brucher, Donnelly and Proscia are seniors.
Schorling, who works along Coach William Kroohs and Coach Dan Drewett, explained that the Indoor Nationals meet is two-tiered, and the Eldred athletes met the criteria of Emerging Elite, just below the first tier of Elite.
“They are competing against the whole nation, although most of the athletes are from the Northeast region for the Emerging Elite competition,” Schorling said.
Drewett attributed the Eldred athletes’ success to the school program that easily allows the young students to explore what events they are suited for. All three coaches modestly understated their own role in the process, giving credit to the young athletes.
Proscia participated in the 2-mile run at Indoor Nationals.
“It’s a tactical race,” he said. “Two miles is a little longer and you have to conserve your energy.”
Proscia finished 31st in the Emerging Elite Division Boys’ 2-mile run with a time of 9 minutes, 46.50 seconds. It was the second best 2-mile time of his career.
Proscia said he didn’t start running track until he was in ninth grade. But he’s worked hard since, teaming up with Campanella.
“We meet up at weekends and run together,” Proscia explained. “We both live in Glen Spey, and it’s definitely been helpful to have a friend to work out with.”
Three colleges made offers to Proscia, and he has decided to go to Northern Kentucky.
“It’s a Division I college,” he said. “And they’ll give me a half-scholarship.”
Campanella’s best time for the 1-mile run is 4:21:91. He recorded that time when he finished sixth in the New Balance Games in January at the New York Armory.
Campanella almost equalled his personal best in the Emerging Elite Division Boys’ 1-mile run at the Indoor Nationals. He finished seventh in 4:21.26.
Campanella and his Eldred teammates trained very hard for the Indoor Nationals.
“It’s exciting,” he said last Wednesday, two days before the meet. “And I hope to break my personal record. I’m just going to get into my own race, not anyone else’s.”
Campanella attributed his good running to consistency, and having a good friend in Proscia to run with.
“We drag and push each other. I love running,” Campanella explained. “It’s not even a sport anymore, it’s a lifestyle.
Donnelly was preparing to compete in the Emerging Elite Division Girls’ 800-meter run.
“I’m very excited,” she said last Wednesday.
Donnelly, who did not make the New York State Public High School Athletic Association meet after competing in the Section IX state qualifier meet on Feb. 25 at West Point, trained especially hard for the Indoor Nationals and was hoping to bring home a medal.
Her fastest time in the 800 meters is 2:21.93, which she ran in the Eastern States meet held at the New York Armory a week-and-a-half before the Indoor Nationals.
“So I’m trying to run under 2:20,” she said with a smile. “I put in a lot of work this year, I wanted to see what I can do. It’s my last chance [as a senior].”
Donnelly was unable to meet that goal, as she finished 50th with a time of 2:28.75. Schorling noted that Donnelly wasn’t feeling well the day of the race due to a sore throat.
Donnelly wants to study Physical Education. She’s looking at five colleges, but has not made her final choice yet.
Brucher made the qualifying height in Warwick the week before the Indoor Nationals in what was her final chance to earn an opportunity to vault at the meet.
“The first two attempts, I missed,” Brucher said. “I cleared 11 feet on my third and final jump.”
The qualifying height was 10 feet, 9 inches. Brucher started clearing heights between 8 feet and 8-6 in the beginning of the year, making fast progress by going twice a week to Warwick’s “Flying Circus” for pole vaulters.
“The coaches have been very supportive, letting me go [and missing practice at school],” she said.
Brucher added that it’s exciting to see and to compete against girls from all over the country.
Unfortunately, Brucher did not do as well as she wanted to in the Emerging Elite Division Girls’ Pole Vault at Indoor Nationals. The starting height was 10-1 and Brucher was unable to clear that height on her three attempts and therefore recorded a “no height.”
“Breanna was very disappointed about that, especially since she has cleared 10-6 and 11 feet before,” Schorling said. “But pole vault is an event where you can do super one day and then have a bad day the next day.”
Brucher plans to go to college. She hasn’t made up her mind yet, although Manhattan College is her first choice.
“I like the coach and the jumpers there,” she said with a smile.