High schools learn valuable lessons at Armory track & field camp

LOIS ELFMAN | 11/21/2019, 1:19 p.m.
On Saturday, hundreds of high school track and field athletes arrived at the Armory New Balance Track & Field Center ...
Athletes from the Atlantic County Track Club in Mays Landing, NJ Lois Elfman photo

On Saturday, hundreds of high school track and field athletes arrived at the Armory New Balance Track & Field Center in Washington Heights eager to learn at the Armory Indoor Track & Field Camp. Most came from New York and New Jersey, but some made the trip from further destinations to soak up the wisdom of Olympians Ajeé Wilson, Sydney McLaughlin, Lawrence Johnson and Priscilla Frederick.

“I was interested in building up my sprinting skills, get faster and possibly get into nationals,” said Aminata Sissoko, a high school senior who has been participating in track since 10th grade. “I’m looking into a lot of colleges, possibly running for Division III. We were learning a lot of stretches and drills that can help us with our form. Also, learning how to run the curves and knowing how to pace yourself.”

Sprinter Diana Ihin, a high school junior, learned new techniques as well as insight into effective warmups. High jumper and long jumper Doumba Diallo, a sophomore, learned new stretching exercises that will help in the high jump. She also learned better form and strategy to not overthink.

“I got to work on my technique and I got critiqued on some things that I’m doing wrong and what I can do to make it better,” said junior Alyssa Ashby, who does the long jump, high jump, the 4x200 relay and the 400 meters. She not only wants to compete at the college level, but ultimately hopes to go pro.

“I like competing and meeting new people,” said sprinter Lauren Princz from the Atlantic County Track Club from Mays Landing, New Jersey, who hopes to break McLaughlin’s New Jersey high school record in the 200 meters. “Today was fun, seeing new faces and seeing different coaching styles and different warmups.”

In addition to the Olympians, there were veteran high school and college coaches, and the high school athletes appreciated their insights into competing at the top level. “I really learned how to set up the blocks,” said Chinwe Odoemena, a sprinter and long jumper.

The day was also beneficial in building confidence, forging friendships and even scoping out future competition.

“Today brought a lot of advice and things that I will use in the future,” said Lailah White, a senior middle-distance runner and hurdler who aspires to go to the University of Southern California. “I asked about recruiting and it really opened my eyes to not stress myself out, but to work hard.”