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The Division IIIA Track and Field Championships

By Manal Layachi

Volume 2 Issue 7

June 13, 2022

The Division IIIA Track and Field Championships

Original photography by VSN (Pictured: Ryan John, Long Jump and Triple Jump winner at NYSPHAA Division 1 State Championships)

On May 17th, 2022, the Valley Stream North High School varsity track team competed at the Division Championships. It took place at North, and six schools from across the county came: South Side High School, George H. Hewlett High School, Sewanhaka High School, John F. Kennedy High School, Manhasset Secondary School, and Roosevelt High School. There were a lot of events such as hurdles, jumping, running, the shotput throw, and the two-mile.

The girls’ team won with 174 points and the boys’ team won with 184 points, both earning the title of Conference Champions.

VSN Boys Spring Track team - 1st place

VSN Girls Spring Track team - 1st place

One of the coaches of the varsity track team, Mr. Frazer, answered a few questions about the Division Championships and track in general:

What is your favorite part about track and coaching?

“Seeing kids grow as people. Seeing kids treat each other with respect and care about how their teammates do.”

What does track mean to you?

“I was lucky enough to participate in track in high school and college, and I have made many friends from those teams. To me, track is a way that kids can learn life lessons about responsibility, time management, accountability, goal setting... and making new friends!”

How do you think the track team will do in the County Championships?

“Both teams will finish in the top 3, but I hope we win both the boys’ and the girls’ team title!”

If you had any advice for a member of the track team, what would it be?

“To get better, you have to train EVERY DAY and do not quit!”

What was your reaction to Elyas Layachi running with one shoe on?

“I knew he would keep running. He is the type of runner that does not quit.”

What do you think motivated Elyas Layachi to keep going?

“Elyas knew that every point mattered, and he needed to get that 6th place point. He is the type of kid that will NEVER let his teammates down, so I knew the One-Shoe Wonder would finish!”

If you were him, would you have kept running?

“Of course! I would NEVER miss meets or races. My teammates counted on me, and I would never let them down.”

Another coach on the track team, Mr. Boyens, also answered some questions about the Division Championships.

How did you feel when both the girls’ team and boys' team won the Division Championships?

“Elated! Everyone has worked so hard this season.”

What is your favorite part about track/coaching?

“In coaching I get to help athletes meet and exceed the expectations they have for themselves. I help young people realize the value of hard work and the joy and comradery of being part of a team.”

What does track mean to you?

“It is an opportunity for athletes to challenge themselves and figure out what they are really capable of as an athlete.”

How do you think the track team will do in the County Championships?

“I think we have a chance to do very well this year at the County Championships. This year’s team is very talented and hardworking. Combined, those two attributes are hard to beat.”

If you had any advice for a member of the track team, what would it be?

“Compete for your teammates, not yourself, and you will achieve at a level you didn't think possible.”

What was your reaction to Elyas Layachi running with one shoe on?

“At first maybe a little worried, then I saw the determination in his face and stride and my worry turned to pride!”

What do you think motivated Elyas Layachi to keep going?

“Easy. The love for his TEAM.”

If you were him, would you have kept running?

“I don’t know. It takes a ton of fortitude to run 2 miles with only one shoe on.”

Elyas Layachi, a junior distance runner, ran the 3200-meter race (two miles) with one shoe on! His coach, Mr. Frazer, gave him a nickname: The One-Shoe Wonder! These are some questions that Elyas answered regarding what happened:

What happened at the beginning of your race?

 “Right at the beginning of the race, when the gun went off, the racers behind me attempted to cut into lane one. As they were cutting in, I was already ahead, and one of them stumbled and dug their shoe into the back of mine, causing my heel to slip out of the shoe.”

What decision did you make after your shoe came off?

“In the few seconds I had to make a decision, two scenarios came to mind: I could either slow down and attempt to fit my shoe back on, losing my spot in the pack in the race, or I could launch my shoe off my foot and keep running to stay in the race. I ultimately decided to throw off the shoe and embrace the pain that would come when bombarding the track with one foot.”

What motivated you to keep running?

“The fact that the team and my friends were counting on me motivated me to keep running. Our track team is like a family: we’ve been through the toughest moments together, through training, and we were always there for each other. I felt as if I had to do it for my fellow distance runners, as well as other members of the team, to score points and lead us to victory. Furthermore, the fact that such an experience would define me as a runner motivated me and inspired me to never give up and prove myself as an athlete with tenacity.”

How did it feel running with one shoe on?

“I must say, it felt very odd. I’ve seen some videos on YouTube where Olympians have run with one shoe on. An example is in the 3000-meter Men’s Steeplechase (the shoeless runner ended up winning the event), and it immediately came to mind once my shoe came off. My foot felt very bare compared to the foot with a shoe (my right foot), and I could feel the unevenness of the track hitting my foot with every other step. My strides were also uneven, and I could feel my body swaying to the left with every other step as well. As we neared lap 5, my foot started to have a tingling sensation, and it felt like it was going to give out. However, on the last lap, with the help of my motivating teammates, I set the pain aside and used every last bit of energy inside me to kick to the finish line. It was probably one of the speediest kicks I’ve ever executed.”

After your race, what was one feeling you had?

“After my race, one feeling I had was confusion but satisfaction. Not only was I still stunned by the fact that I ran eight laps on the track without a racing shoe on, but the fact that I reacted so calmly and in control made such an experience seem unreal. However, I was satisfied since I was able to still secure a scoring spot in the race, knowing that every point counts toward a team victory.”

Do you like your new nickname “The One-Shoe Wonder”?

“I do like my new nickname, actually! I remember the moment in the race when my coach found out I lost one shoe and called out the nickname on the loudspeaker. It made me famous in a way!”

Do you have any advice for a runner if something unexpected happens during their race?

“All you have to do is keep on running. No matter what difficulties you are faced with, whether it’s a competitive race or you’re at a significant disadvantage (i.e. you lose a shoe), just remember that the moment is temporary, and temporary pain will lead to permanent success only if you embrace it and learn to control your emotions and actions regarding it. It seems really hard when discussing it, but when on the track, with the adrenaline rush and your teammates supporting you, it becomes almost second nature to keep pushing for victory and success.”

After winning the Division Championships, all the members of the track team were full of pride and glad that all their hard work paid off. Everyone on the team treats each other with kindness and respect. We are a big family that cheers everyone on, and we support each other no matter what. That is what makes our team special and different from other track teams. Overall, the team did an amazing job, and be sure to wish them good luck at the County Championships! Go Spartans!

Update: Both teams ended up earning the County Champions titles and Ryan John won two NY State titles for Long Jump and Triple Jump (pictured above).

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