The GDS men’s varsity track and field team finished second of six teams in the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAC) championship while the GDS women’s varsity team tied for sixth of 15 teams in the Independent School League (ISL) championship on May 14.
Both the men’s and women’s teams won multiple events and set many PRs, or personal records, at their respective meets. The men’s team placed second after Sidwell Friends School, losing by a margin of only two points.
The ISL meet was the first of the day and was held at Holton-Arms School. The weather conditions were slightly moist but still allowed for the meet to run. “We have had lots of lousy weather at meets over the years, so it was nice to have at least decent weather today,” assistant coach Mark Berenson said.
Some of the Hoppers’ top performances were by senior Nadia Fairfax in the 400-meter sprint and freshman Naomi Borek in the 300-meter hurdles. “It was fun,” Borek said. “I can definitely do better, but I am excited for States.”
Sophomore Lucy Holley felt proud of the team’s improvement, with many PRs and successes across the board. “It is really exciting to see everyone getting better,” she said. Holley also mentioned that it was helpful to have fans cheering the team along. Groups of members of the men’s team came to Holton to cheer on their fellow Hoppers and, in the evening, many members of the women’s team went to cheer on the men.
After the ISL championship meet’s awards ceremony, which highlighted multiple Bullis School wins, head coach Anthony Belber talked to the team. “It is a blast to watch you guys race and compete,” he said. “Whether you are setting a PR or not, whether we are finishing tied for sixth in a league with 15 incredibly athletic schools or not, you guys know that this was a good day.”
Belber praised the composure of the team competing on a stage that, for some team members, was unfamiliar because of COVID and the fact that many team members are underclassmen. “There is very little experience running at this ISL meet, yet you guys looked like you had been doing it for the past four years,” he said.
The MAC championship took place at Bullis. The men’s team, inspired by the women’s team’s efforts in the morning, showed no mercy to their opponents. They placed highly in multiple events and cheered loudly for their teammates.
The Hoppers fought even when they were not fully healthy, as senior Malachi Cheeks jumped over 20 feet in the long jump and raced on a severely injured foot. The Hoppers finished first in all three relays—the 4×100, 4×400 and 4×800—and were neck-and-neck with Sidwell for the entire meet.
In the final event, the 4×400-meter relay, members of the GDS team ran across the infield to intensely cheer on their teammates. The Hoppers won the race, with senior Leo Cooper holding their lead as the team’s final runner. Despite their successes during the track events, the Hoppers finished the meet in second place, two points behind the Sidwell Foxes.
Sophomore Zach Kovner won two races, the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes, and was a part of two winning relay teams, energizing the crowd with each victory. “It’s tough, but it’s hard to be sad,” he said after the team was defeated. “Everyone ran well.”
With D.C. state championships in just under two weeks, Kovner pointed out that there is still more to come from the Hoppers. “It’s far from over,” he said.