Lady Rockets near finish line, look ahead to post-season

Senior+sprinter+Taylor+Ivory+competes+in+an+event+at+home.+Ivory+will+be+attending+The+University+of+Findlay+on+a+track+scholarship.+%22My+time+with+track+is+just+beginning+and+I+can%27t+wait+to+see+where+it+goes%2C%22+she+said.

Senior sprinter Taylor Ivory competes in an event at home. Ivory will be attending The University of Findlay on a track scholarship. “My time with track is just beginning and I can’t wait to see where it goes,” she said.

Ella Kassan, Reporter

With District, Regionals and States coming up in the next few weeks, the Lady Rockets track team are excited to see how far they can go despite the obstacles of COVID and injured athletes.

“The most exciting aspect is the fun and pressure of the league meet and District/Regional meets,” said Head Coach Robb Kidd. “These meets require the athlete’s best performances or their season comes to an end. We are hoping to continue our tradition of going to the state meet once again. We have a streak of going every year since 2004!”

Freshman Milena Sobie, SHS’ first seated competitor, is preparing herself physically and mentally to achieve her goals.

“I am in the weight room more and I do constant laps around the track with no break to really get the feel of the 800 while keeping distance and speed in mind,” Sobie said. “My goal is to have fun and know that not every meet is going to be a new record. I hope to get under four minutes in my 800 meters, as well as make it to states!”

“Milena Sobie will continue to set unprecedented achievements as we hope to get her to the state meet as well,” Kidd added.

Sobie is not the only athlete who strives to achieve her goals in the next few weeks. Junior long jumper Abbi Novotny also has high hopes as the season winds down. 

I still want to break 14 feet in long jump,” she said. “I’ve gotten so close but can’t seem to hit it. I also want to do my best in the relays so I can at least go as an alternative to the bigger meets that are coming up.”

This will be Novotny’s first taste of a postseason, as it is for numerous other track athletes, due to the cancellation of last season due to Covid-19. 

Novotny is both eager and anxious about what is yet to come. 

“I’m definitely starting to get nervous because these are all the big meets,” she said. “The best of the best are at these meets so that puts more pressure on me but also encourages me to just get out there and run my best.” 

Pullquote Photo

Train hard, trust yourself, set goals and utilize your teammates no matter what grade to make you better. I believe it is very important to weigh out the doubtful thoughts of: ‘she is faster than me’ or ‘I am not strong enough’ because that mindset only makes success that much harder to achieve. Just have fun, believe in yourself, and train hard.”

— Taylor Ivory

Since Kidd started coaching at Streetsboro in the 1999-2000 season, he has provided his athletes with a lot of encouraging advice over the years, to help them relax and compete.

Compete with confidence,” he tells them. “Know that if they train the way we expect, then the results will be successful, even if they don’t qualify for the next week. These meets are fun and the level of competition that we face only makes us better.”

Many athletes have different strategies to help them get ready for the post-season and more competitive meets. 

Freshman Claire Collins, who runs the 4X4, is one athlete who has had to make changes in her routine from the beginning of the school year. 

“In the first couple meets I had little [interest] for stretching or warming up, but now before every race I am warming up,” Collins said. “Also, I had little concern for what I ate the night before, but as the season gets more intense, I make sure to eat properly.”

Others, like Novotny, have not had to change much.

“This late into the season you don’t want to change too much,” she said. “Just stick with what works best and just use whatever you are given.” 

Besides the excitement of the huge meets ahead, seniors are feeling different emotions as they come closer to the last high school track meets of their lives.

The 4×2 team of sophomore Arai Marino, junior Mariah Embry, senior Erika Richards and junior Jada Paul talk before they compete in Norton. (photo courtesy of Cheryl Richards)

Senior Julia Laudato, who will be continuing her track career at Lake Erie College, has mixed feelings as the end of the season nears.

“I am sad because I have really enjoyed running track this year and I will miss my teammates a lot,” she said. 

Her twin sister, Allison Laudato, said she felt the same.

“I am sad about the last couple of meets because this Is my last time competing in track and in high school sports in general,” she said. “It’s also my last time competing with my sister.” 

Apart from the bittersweet emotions, the Rockets have had to face numerous obstacles to get this far in their season. Due to the cancellation of last year, COVID restrictions, and injured track stars, the journey for the Rockets was not as clear as they may hoped as many challenges interfered.

Every season provides unexpected events,” Kidd said. “In addition, since COVID limited and ultimately shut us down last season, we had two classes of athletes coming in that we knew very little.”

Both senior sprinters, Taylor Ivory and Erika Richards pulled hamstrings. Ivory went down in the middle of a race against Cloverleaf. Richards was injured at the Woodridge meet.

Kidd said these injuries affected the team, but are something he and this group have dealt with before.

“This has disrupted our timing as we move towards and into the postseason,” he said. 

Ivory has started competing again, working toward her state goals. 

Coming back from a hamstring injury has been more mental than physical,” she said. “I am still battling with the idea that half my season has been taken away again. With that being said, it isn’t all bad. It has taught me to stretch properly, take extremely good care of my body, to trust myself, and to trust my teammates.” 

The absence of these key athletes on the track was a chance for underclassmen to prove themselves capable of competing at the Varsity level. 

“Next person up, so to speak,” Kidd said. “As we help them heal, we also get some great experience and opportunities for other kids to step up.”

As the Lady Rockets’ season comes to a close, Kidd said he is pleased with what the JV and Varsity athletes put forth.

“Pleasantly, many of our underclass athletes have been making tremendous contributions to the team and we are excited about our future,” he said.