September 28, 2023
September 28, 2023

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After Rainy Start, Yeshiva Track Is Back on Track

(Kushner Sports) High school track athletes from three Yeshiva Conference (YC) schools—defending co-champions SAR and Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, and Golda Och Academy—arrived at the Kushner school on Wednesday, May 10, to an unfamiliar sight. It was the sun, beaming from a cloudless blue sky onto a bone-dry athletic track. The spring track season of the 11-school conference had been a virtual washout to that point; only one indoor meet was completed while both scheduled outdoor meets were canceled due to rain. The participants at this triangular meet couldn’t wait to put their training to the test after six and a half weeks of competitive inactivity.

They were given that opportunity thanks to the efforts of the three squads coaches, who got creative and arranged this tri-meet when the league-sponsored track season began to go off the rails. They were supported mightily by Athletic Directors Lee Joffe (SAR), Richard Kirsch (RKYHS) and Dennis Kozar (GOA). The meet provided the perfect tune-up for this year’s YC championships that were held on May 21.

The event, hosted by RKYHS at its beautiful athletic stadium, featured many of the runners who were expected to medal at the YC championships.

On the girls side, the speed events came down to Aya East of the RKYHS Flying Cobras and Zeva Gorodischer of SAR Sting. The 100-meter final was taken by Gorodischer, who defeated East and Maya Footerman of GOA, with the 1-2-3 finishers all posting sub-15.00 times. East returned to dominate the 400, winning by over seven seconds in front of SAR’s Abby Gertzulen who finished second. The competition among Footerman, East, Gorodischer and Frisch’s Samantha Pruzansky has the potential to be the talk of the YC for several years.

“It’s thrilling to watch,” said SAR coach Gabi Chutter. “These girls are neck-and-neck at all meets and it’s never really clear who’s going to take gold until they cross the line.”

“Aya and the others work like crazy to get the most out of their natural talent—and just as important is their mindset, which is that they absolutely refuse to lose,” added RKYHS coach Yank Poleyeff,

The SAR girls also excelled in the distance events, with Anaelle Konovitch winning the 800-meter and Leah Belostotsky taking home the one mile race. Not surprisingly, SAR also won the girls’ relay, with Gorodischer, Belostotsky, Konovitch and Shira Gerber running away from GOA (Footerman, Marissa Jacobs, Emily Maines, Noga Arieh), who in turn held off RKYHS for second. Considering that the Golda Ochs Roadrunners were fielding a track team for the first time in the YC, the results were promising.

“It’s an exceptional learning experience,” observed Joe Candela, who is himself a first-year coach. “Organizing this track team has pushed each student to grow as a stronger athlete, leader and innovator in their own way.”

Another girl who ran the 100-meter race didn’t qualify for the final but was still worthy of mention. SAR’s Batya Sperling-Milner completed her race in a respectable 21.46 seconds—respectable, that is, for a sighted runner. Sperling-Milner is blind. “I love track because as a blind person I don’t get a lot of chances to be strictly mediocre—not inspiring, not pitiable;  just a girl who is okay at running when provided with the right accommodations. Coach Gabi has been so supportive and chill without treating me any different, which I really appreciate,” she said.

Aidan Korish of RKYHS and Billy Mallin-Holtz of SAR highlighted the boys competition. Korish, a sophomore and the younger brother of legendary RKYHS miler Maurice Korish, became the first conference runner to break the one-minute barrier in the 400-meter race this season, with his time of 59.74 besting RKYHS teammate Jonah Siegel who finished second.

“I’m excited for Aidan but not surprised,” Poleyeff noted. “He hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can accomplish. It will be exciting to watch his progress over the next couple of years.”

Mallin-Holtz, a junior who is beginning to establish himself as a potential collegiate force to be reckoned with, easily won the mile race, and in the process recorded a better 800-meter split time than any runner competing in the actual 800 race, which was won by Adam Darack of RKYHS.

“Billy is an incredible athlete and the perfect model of a leader by example,” Chutter said. “He pushes himself at every meet and never gives up. His improvement is based on hard work and adhering to the individualized training plan we went over with him at the beginning of the season.”

The boys’ 100-meter race was an SAR sweep, with 1-2-3 going to Ruby Berman, Eitan Rosenstock and Dylan Berger. The trio teamed up with Mallin-Holtz to capture the boys relay and round out SAR’s dominance for the day. RKYHS won second place with the team of Koresh, Siegel, Nathan Pedoeem and Eitan Schnur. And one other statistic from the event: 32 of the 41 meet competitors were underclassmen. Conference rivals, take note: it’s not getting easier anytime soon!

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