Bianca ’16 spread out on the grass of Ted Slavin Field, breathing heavily from exhaustion as her teammates rushed to cover her with uniform jackets to keep her warm as her body cooled down. She could barely grip the water bottle her father handed her.
Half an hour earlier, at the 7/8 Track and Field Delphic League Finals, Bianca ran the 400m relay and placed third. Ten minutes after that she ran the 1600m relay and placed second.
After a few minutes of stretching her legs on the grass, she slowly stood up and strode over to the starting line for her third and final race of the day: the 800m relay.
Taking her mark and regulating her breathing, Bianca bolted ahead of the pack. As the runners turned the corner for the final stretch to the finish line, Bianca kept her lead and charged to first place, breaking the Delphic League record set in 2005 by Jade ’09, with a final time of 2:25.59.
In the first meet of the season, Bianca ran the 1600m relay in 5:40.4, breaking the Middle School record set by Danielle ’10. 7/8 Track Coach Conrad McKethan said she has accomplished an impressive feat for her age.
“The fact that she’s a seventh grader says a lot about her ability because she has a chance to break that record again next year,” McKethan said.
Bianca said she was excited after learning of her accomplishment at the first meet.
“I wasn’t really expecting to break the record. I wanted to get out there and run and see where I would fall in the league, and when I broke the record it just confirmed for me that I could make it in the league,” Bianca said.
7/8 Athletics Coordinator Julie Napoleon said that Bianca continued to excel throughout the season.
Bianca joined the North Hollywood Hawks Track Club last year as a form of conditioning for volleyball, which Bianca considers her primary sport.
“One of the things I was worried about, being that I ran track in high school and college, was injury,” Bianca’s father Oscar said. “That’s really very common in young athletes, particularly young ladies, and so I said a good way to cross-train to get endurance and stamina up is run for track.”
Bianca trains year-round, playing for the indoor volleyball club team High Performance in the fall and practicing with the Hawks before and after the 7/8 Track and Field season. Napoleon said that this summer Bianca will train for a week with the Junior National Volleyball team in the Olympic training center in Colorado.
This past winter, Bianca qualified for the regional Junior Olympics Track and Field through her club track team and nearly qualified for the National Junior Olympics when she placed seventh instead of the necessary sixth.
Even though Bianca said that she prefers volleyball, she still finds track to be fun and engaging.
“I like running and I’m definitely a competitive person, so track is just another great way to compete,” Bianca said. McKethan said that Bianca has been an inspirational addition to the team.
“She’s been a good motivational leader starting from the first meet, because she got right off the block and ran some really great times and kind of got the other girls fired up to do just as well in their own events. She’s been a spiritual leader in that sense and a motivational person in her own abilities,” he said.
The 7/8 Track and Field team finished fourth in the Delphic League finals with a total of 43 points, 24 of which were captured by Bianca.