The only events in track and field that are not an individualized event are the relays. Having the opportunity to run a leg on a relay team is an exhilarating experience that only a select few sprint and distance track and field athletes get to have. They get to work together, challenge each other to do their best while relying on their teammates to do the same, ultimately winning together in sport and in life.
Our TrackGirlz ambassador Isabella Sergi tells her story about her unbelievable bond with her relay team and how that bond drove them to their success:
I’m from Niles. It’s a small town in northeast Ohio without a claim to fame. There’s a small school that I go to, Niles McKinley, with limited achievements in all areas of sports. Our school doesn’t own a track so, practice is often difficult and time-consuming. Until the 2017 track season, the Niles Girls team had never advanced to any big qualifying meets. That record stood until the 4×100 and 4×200 relay team of Emma Reed, Isabella Sergi ,Halli Petillo, and Kyndia Matlock wanted to change that reputation. The beginning of the season was rough. We didn’t have too much motivation from anyone and our relay times were inconsistent. The four of us were determined. We wanted to succeed, to succeed for ourselves and for the city.
We practiced for numerous hours, making sure to not drop the baton. Our coaches, Coach Caldwell and Coach Sava knew they had the makings of a great team on their hands. We ran smaller meets and gradually advanced into larger meets until we reached the biggest meet we would run at, Trumbull County District II. We ran our best PR with a first place finish in the 4×200 with a time of 1.50.81 and a second place finish for the 4×100 with a time of 51.27. The times were great but, we knew we had to be better. We had qualified for Regional Semifinals meet and began seeing ourselves in the newspaper for how far we’d come. We had a week of practices before the big Regional Meet and we needed to give it our all. We practiced long and hard with reps of take-offs, handoffs, composure, and confidence. All four were needed if we wanted to win. We were the only ones who could decide if we would win or lose and we would do it together, in success or failure.
The day of the big meet finally came and we were all nervous and anxious. I was absolutely terrified, being the only freshman on the team and having everyone’s eyes fall upon me in the second leg of both our relays. Our first race of the day would be the 4×200. All the girls from other teams were nervous and we talked to calm each other down. On the field waiting to be called we talked as best friends but, on the track we were fierce rivals. We ran our race in a pre-lim time of 1.51.58 and we didn’t do our best. We placed 7th overall and made it to Regional Finals, which would be held the following day.
Our best event was the 4×100, where were strongest in. The race mirrored the previous one with a scary start, but a PR to finish. Our qualifying time for Regional Finals was a 50.86 in 6th place overall. We were on to the next day. The morning of the races was tough. The four of us were heartbroken that the senior on our team, Emma Reed, could have her last race ever if we didn’t qualify for the next step. We all hugged, prayed, and laughed together, hoping it wouldn’t be our last time. We made a saying to get us through the fear of the races,
“Believe in the pass.”
This would mean that we needed clean handoffs and to have no doubt that we needed to win. The call for the 4×200 rolled around and we separated to our starting positions. The gun went off for the race and most of it was a blur. Our race was over in 1.49.74.
We placed 8th in the region, PR’d, and received our medals, but didn’t advance to State. There was no time to reminisce over the last race because the 4×100 would be our biggest. We wanted to win in the 4×100 more than anything else in the world.
Heading to the starting spots, we had confidence and pride that Niles Girls Track team had made it this far. The takeoff for the race was quick and we seemed to fly around the track. We finished with a PR of 49.97. We made it to 6th place in the Region. This is where our team would part. But more than anything else, our last meet together helped us believe in ourselves, which reaffirmed why we love track so much. It gave Niles a name and four girls who adore the sport, an opportunity like no other.