Senior Jill Tramondozzi running in the 4x4 relay race. Photo taken by Fidel "Don" Laurena.
Malden High’s Indoor Track team has waved goodbye to an overall successful season for both the Girls and the Boys. The season ended with a total of four wins and three losses, ending with a winning record.
However, the winning season had to be fought for by the members of the team. To senior Shataeya Smith, a challenging moment of the season for both herself and the team was the meet against Revere. She says that the track team “did not know if [they] were going to win,” as the score depended on the final 4x4 relay race. Smith adds that the team knew that they had to score first place in the relay in order to win. But, to Smith, the uncertainty of how the team will perform in their events was “nerve-wracking.” The possibility of not getting first place and therefore losing the meet would mean that the team would have had a record of 1-3, which also meant that the team would need to win the next three meets to have a winning record. If they were to lose another meet, they would have had a losing record, since the team only competes against seven teams.
The reason why Revere was challenging for Smith was due to the feeling of “getting into [her] head.” She adds that if one is an athlete and dwells on the fact that they did not perform well at an event, it is going to be “hard” to “succeed and excel the next couple of times.” This happened to Smith, as she states that she did not perform particularly well during her shotputs. “If you have a positive mindset, [you are] most likely to excel, whereas if you have a negative mindset, [you are] more likely not to excel,” Smith says. “Although [she] placed first and it is good that [she] placed first, [she] felt like [she] did not do [her] best.
As for Junior Bella Machado, the most difficult moments of the season were the races against Revere and Gloucester, because “both meets came down to the relays.” There were also “a lot of [them] injured and sick,” so the team did not have as many people they needed to run. Her personal challenging moment was the meet against Danvers, due to her injury that affected her season, as that was the first race she ran with “little to no training,” which brought on feelings of nervousness.
The Boys team suffered similar fallbacks. The Boys team lost to Danvers, with a score of 40-46. According to Junior Omar Asousy, his most challenging moment was racing against a senior from Peabody who “had the best time in the league” in both the mile and two mile run. Asousy admits that he was the “only long distance runner [he] was not able to beat.” However, he still has hopes, as he “may get another chance” to beat him at the NEC league meet.
For Senior Kyle O’Brien, a challenge for the team was be trying to get “the new runners to score and get used to Varsity meets,” along with dealing with injuries. O’Brien had suffered an injury three weeks ago, which forced him to cut his season short.
As there were a series of lows for the Boys and the Girls, they were also rewarding moments that balanced out the negatives. For Machado, she says that the most rewarding moment for the team was the win over Gloucester, since it was the team’s last meet and “would determine a winning or losing streak.” For her, she appreciated the support and encouragement she received from her teammates during her race against Danvers. The support she got allowed her to win first place in her event.
As for Smith, the team prided themself on winning the 4x4 relay at the Revere meet, since it allowed them to have the opportunity to have a winning record. Personally for Smith, her biggest achievement was qualifying at the track team’s first meet, which was against Beverly. It was rewarding for her to know that she could place first and qualify for States at the first meet of the season, which “is not common” unless they did a lot of training. She attributes her success to the training she did over the summer, stating that she “worked so hard,” making the achievement feel rewarding.
For the Boys, their most rewarding moment was the win against Marblehead and Revere, according to O’Brien. Asousy adds that the team was down three points, meaning that the score depended on the final relay race once again. Asousy was in a relay with Juniors Yousef Lahkiky and Ezra Kruckenberg, and Senior Ruan Valadares Silva. The “intense meet” and “even more intense race” ended with the team and the relay coming out on top, with a score of 44-42.
The team’s successes can be due to their desire to improve. Smith says that the team focused on working harder to achieve their goals, while also working on being punctual and making sure that they are “mentally there” at practice. The team also wanted to improve the running skills of the freshmen and sophomores who are new to the sport. Lastly, the team also worked hard to try to achieve their goal to get a lot of members to place when it comes to the NEC championships, in order to show that Malden “does have talent.” “The NEC does not really like us, they really [do not],” Smith says. She also focused on her goal of beating the school record, which is actually hers. She aspired to “have an impact on the team” for her final year by holding the number one spot in her event.
To Asousy, the Boys team still has “a lot of room to grow” but this year’s team had “far more potential” than last year. They still need to improve on “consistency,” Asousy says, as in some meets, such as the Danvers meet, the team had a “great chance of winning” but did not necessarily perform well in the events the team was “expected to win.” Nevertheless, the team still worked hard at improving. The 4x800m relay team, in which Asousy is a runner in, improved “tremendously” since the start of the season, Asousy adds.
The team also improved on their “mentality” going into every meet, as they strived for a “winning mindset” and aimed to “push [their] limits,” O’Brien says. The team would “still improve on [their] attendance,” according to O’Brien, but that is a goal for next year.
Two members of the team that had a particularly outstanding season were Sophomores Makayla Preston and Vicky Pham, according to Smith. Preston did not start off as a 300 or 400 meter runner, but she “stepped up and did the 4x4” and “next thing you know, she is a permanent leg” of the relay. Smith praises her ability to do multiple events, stating that she is “very diverse,” as she can “long-jump, sprint, throw, and be a leg in the relay.” Smith adds that it is not common to find someone who can do such a variety of events. Preston is “one of the backbones” of the team and who always performs to the best of her ability. Vicky Pham is also another member of the team that works hard at practice and the meets, according to Smith. After every meet, she hears that Pham sets a personal record by margins such as 15 seconds, even 30 seconds. Taking 30 seconds off a two mile run is “amazing” to Smith, saying that Pham looks like she is running “with ease.” However, Pham “puts in the work” in order to shave the seconds off of her time.
The Indoor Track team still has the NEC championship meets to compete in, along with States for those who qualified. To many on the team, the NEC meets are an official wrap to an eventful season, filled with memorable, many times intense, moments.