Tuesday, August 16, 2022

While still “under the radar” relative to the high-profile sports such as basketball, baseball and floor hockey, Yeshiva League track is a growing presence among local high schools, with 10 schools fielding a team this year. And within RKYHS, excitement is building as the Flying Cobras, with an impressive blend of youth and experience, head toward the May 15 championship with some promising results under their belt in the league’s first two meets.

At the indoor meet at the Ocean Breeze complex in Staten Island, senior Hanoch Elkin, a previous Jewish Link Athlete of the Week, came away with two silver medals, behind only SAR’s legendary Oliver Sohn in each race. Aya East, a freshman who is already a two-sport star, won the girls’ 200-meter event and anchored a second place finish in the girls’ relay race.

Going into last Sunday’s outdoor meet in Leonia, Ruthie Isler, a four-year veteran of the squad and co-captain, reflected on her mission. “For me, it’s about teaching the next generation of runners to love the sport and be part of the team,” said Isler, whose sister Elisheva is one of the crew of talented freshmen. Isler and the other seniors comprise the team’s Council of Winning, and their influence has begun to show up on the scoreboard.

Ruth “Ru” Samel is another of those freshmen. On Sunday, she placed second in the girls’ 200 meter race. “They’re always there to give me tips and pointers to help me improve,” said Samel of the senior leadership group. “If I’m nervous before a meet they reassure me and remind me to have fun. They cheer for us and show us how to be a supportive teammate.”

Other Sunday medal winners were seniors Matthew Mendelsohn, who placed third in the boys’ 100 and 200 meter races, and Maya Weisberg, who took home the bronze in the girls 100.

These accomplishments were a prelude for the final race of the day, the girls’ 4 x 100-meter relay. The Flying Cobras’ first three runners, Weisberg, Isler and freshman Sarena Hinden executed near-perfect baton passes to stay even with the highly talented SAR squad going into the final leg. Samel and SAR’s Zeva Gorodischer went head to head over the final 100 meters, giving all they had left after a long day of racing. Samel opened up a slight lead and, with the crowd roaring, managed to hold off Gorodischer in the final meters to bring home the gold.

The relay victory may prove to be a “signature win” for the entire Flying Cobras team as they move toward May 15 with growing experience and confidence. But whether success comes this year or beyond, for the underclassmen receiving the figurative baton from the outgoing seniors, it’s likely only a matter of time.

By Coach Yank Poleyeff


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