Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jesters' 4x400 relay team no joke - headed to NYS meet

Only six high school track and field athletes who go to school in the Collar City are still practicing for the New York State meet. Five of them are from the Emma Willard School.

Emma Willard School track coach Rob Buckley (right) instructs 4x400 relay team members (from left to right), Hallie Gordon, Caroline Gregg, Sara Sobolewski and Gabby Gil'Haerem during an indoors practice Wednesday. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Emma Willard's 4x400 relay team punched its ticket to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II Track and Field Meet at the Section II qualifying meet last weekend in Johnstown, but it was not something the team had anticipated.

In fact, it was something of an accident.

When one of the original members of the team was too tired to run during a 2010 meet, in stepped short distance sprinter Caroline Gregg to save the day. And just like that, the 4x400 team began to realize its potential.

With Fatima Johnson in the first spot, Gregg in the second, Gabby Gil'Haerem running third and Sara Sobolewski as the anchor, the Jesters set a school record, running 4:06.92 at the Section II qualifying meet, also earning a trip to the state meet.

Their state qualifier performance earned the Jesters the No. 11 seed in the 17-team field, eight seconds behind the No. 1 seeded team, Mercy, from Long Island.

"We also took 10 seconds off our time, which is incredible," Gil’Haerem said. "It was the first time we ran in that order. I think we have the potential to take off more seconds since we all ran well, considering, but I think we can run better. So it’s not too far out of the picture."

La Salle Institute's Tyler Washington, who will compete in the boys' Division I triple jump, is the only other Troy athlete to qualify for the state meet.

Gabby Gil'Haerem (left) receives a handoff from Caroline Gregg during an indoor practice Wednesday afternoon at the Emma Willard School.

Fatima Johnson, who lives in New York City, was not present at Wednesday's practice, but she will join the team in Troy before they head to Vestal.

It's also a very bright group. Gregg will attend Smith College and study vocal performance while Sobolewski will attend Middlebury College and plans to major in chemistry.

For a full list of seeds for the girls' state meet, click here.

For the boys' seeds, click here.

It's the second consecutive trip to the state meet for Sobolewski, Gil'Haerem and Gregg, who ran the 4x100 relay a season ago.

Gregg also ran the 100 meters in 2009. This year, Gregg will compete in the 200 meters and the 4x400 relay.

Emma Willard's Sara Sobolewski (left) and Gabby Gil'Haerem (right) talk about their season on the 4x400 relay team prior to Wednesday's practice at the school.

For the full scoop on how Sobolewksi postponed her Hawaii vacation for a weekend in Binghamton, check out the story in Friday's edition of The Record.

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