For a team that has successfully defended its Borough Championship title every season this millennium, realizing another victory was expected to be effortless for the Greyducks. But as they headed into the competition on Saturday, May 19, the Greyducks worried whether or not they would be able to reach their usual first place spot on the podium.
At the team’s meeting prior to Boroughs, coach Mark Mendes cringed while reading his team’s injury list. Without senior Willie Zeng, junior Jack Stevenson, and freshman Brian Lui, the healthy Greyducks would need their guys to step up to fill the gaps. After compiling a scouting report of the borough, Mendes predicted that the Greyducks would slightly edge out the Hunter College High School Hawks, but it would, by no means, be a sure victory.
At Boroughs, as in all other track meets, athletes are permitted to participate in a maximum of three events. Athletes earn points for their teams based on what they place in each event. The scoring for the top 6 places are 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, and 1 points, respectively. Due to Zeng’s torn ACL, Stevenson’s tendonitis, and Lui’s banged elbow, several Greyducks performed in more events than usual to compensate.
Senior and co-captain Mark Schramm was one of such athletes who stepped up at the meet. Schramm’s primary goal was to win the 1600-meter event while running a personal best, which is a difficult feat when there is no notable competition to challenge a runner. But after co-senior and co-captain Konrad Surkont paced Schramm for the first 1200 meters, Schramm muscled his way through the bell lap to run a personal best of 4:23.41, a 10-second improvement. “The team showed me so much support throughout the year, especially today,” Schramm said. “They were chanting my name throughout the race. It was just great. I loved it.”
However, Schramm’s day was far from over. He was a key leg in a 4x800m relay, along with Surkont, senior Yorkbell Jaramillo, and sophomore Andrew Puopolo, who placed second only by 0.02 seconds to another Greyduck team. He then teamed up with junior Danish James and seniors Genghis Chau and Jaramillo to run a winning 4x400m relay in 3:38.76.
Although the Greyducks were devoid of key athletes, they still prevailed because of a deep roster. By the end of the meet, the Greyducks had a first- or second-place athlete in all events except for the long jump and pentathlon events. This led to a team victory with 297 points, as the Hawks finished in a distant second with 122 points. The rest of Manhattan paled in comparison, as the Greyducks fell only seven points short of topping the combined point total of the rest of the teams.
Meanwhile, their female counterparts focused on improving from last year’s performances. They followed through, nearly doubling their last year’s score to finish with 126.5 points. Although they fell short to Health Profession’s score of 175, the Greyducks were pleased with the results of the meet.
Senior and captain Karen Zheng was the only senior to score points for the team, winning the 1500m race walk in 7:27.96. Senior Jessica Zalph from the Hawks prevented the Greyducks from sweeping the event overall, by placing second in 7:37.60. The Greyducks benefited from Zheng’s leadership, as well as outside coaching. “We have been working with Stella, a PSAL official who specializes in racewalking,” Zheng said. “And also we have some of our top distance runners, [juniors] Kineta [Wahl], Helen [Nie], Stephanie [Liang], and sophomore Vera [Pertsovskaya], working with Coach Mendes.”
Wahl and Pertsovskaya placed third and sixth in the 800m with times of 2:30.21 and 2:35.49, respectively; in the 1500m, Wahl and Pertsovskaya placed fourth and fifth by running 5:16.30 and 5:18.32; and Nie placed second and sixth in the 400m hurdles and 1500m.
After a strong performance at Boroughs, both the boys’ and girls’ Greyducks confidently went into City Championships, which was held on Sunday, June 3. “Facing the stronger competition is always exciting yet scary,” Wahl said.
Unfortunately, the boys’ team came in a disappointing seventh place. Surkont placed second in the 1600m and first in the 3200m; Schramm placed third in the 3200m; and the 4x800m relay placed fourth, earning 28 points for Stuyvesant. The girls’ team came in an even more disappointing seventeenth place, with Wahl placing sixth in the 1500m and Zheng and Janie Ou Yang placing first and sixth respectively in the 1500m race walk, earning 10 points for Stuyvesant.