MAMARONECK, N.Y. It's not often that a young athletic team blossoms into champions in less than 10 minutes, but the Mamaroneck girls 4x800-meter relay team did just that at last week's New York State Track and Field Championships in Syracuse.
The quartet of Leonie Rauls, Shari Rauls, Lauren Chapey and Katie DeVore raced to a time of 9:17.50 over the 3,200-meter event, proving that standards can be reached by a sophomore Leonie Rauls and three determined eighth-graders. The Tigers took fifth in the large schools division and placed 6th overall in a field of 31 teams from all New York high schools.
The championship feat was performed without the Tigers team leader, senior Amina Banks, a two-time indoor state champion in the 1,000 meters who had individual races to run and was replaced by Chapey.
"This past season was great for the team," said DeVore, the anchor leg runner. "All the team members have run great this season. Leonie, Shari and I have all gotten our personal bests in the last few months. Last Sunday, we ran very well considering we were missing our best runner, Amina Banks. Lauren Chapey filled in her place and ran really well considering it was one of her first times ever running the 800 meters.
"Next year is a mystery to me. Who knows what we can do, but I hope we make it to states again."
Chapey also has goals for the future. "I am definitely enjoying my experience on the track," she said. "I'm looking forward to cross country in the fall and as always to improving my individual times in winter and track seasons. I hope to become more competitive on my main event, the 1,500. I was an alternate on the 4x800 and was pleasantly surprised with my time."
Leonie Rauls hopes to be a mentor as was Banks. "Last year I was the youngest and I looked up to the other girls," Leonie Rauls said. "Their hard work and success inspired me to stick with the sport. I can see that determination in the eighth-graders. The more experience you have racing, the smarter and more strategic you become."
Eighth-grade sister Shari looks forward to more surprises.
"Yes, I'm surprised that such a young team did so well so quickly," Shari said. "I can't imagine how well we will do in the next two years. Training can be hard, but the fact that we all go through it together makes it a lot less painful and more fun."
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