Emerging underclassmen track stars chase league success


Ana Gorski, Editor of Arts and Culture

Runners stand before the starting line, waiting in anticipation for a moment no longer than a couple minutes in which they will sprint for 800 meters, or twice around the Kezar Pavilion track. They have been training for this short period of time for months. Their legs tremble with adrenaline, steady, and the gun sounds. With a personal rate of 2:20:97 and the fastest 800 meter runner in BCL West last season, this is the moment you will be closest to Sophia Stephens (‘20).

Track and field season officially began February 5th, after many runners spent the winter season training on their own time. The team has thirty one members this season, seventeen of which are new runners.

In an interview with the Urban Legend, head coach Bill Cirocco said about the new season, “I’m very optimistic. 800 people look good. Relay teams look good. The boys have shown some promise in the distances…The group seems to be more cohesive this year and during the early practice there seems to be more intensity than we [had] last year.”

As a returning runner, Sophia Stephens runs the 800 meter with speed and intelligence, pacing herself based on her experience of past competitions. As I interviewed her after a challenging practice, she stayed humble and admitted that as a kid, she ran because she enjoyed winning.

“I started when I was about six years old. I used to run with my stepmom a lot because she did a lot of ultra marathons and marathons… I didn’t join an actual running team until seventh grade when I started cross country. I just started doing track [last] year at Urban.”

The 800 meter is considered one the most challenging track events, as runners must combine speed with endurance.

Stephens said, “The main reason why I enjoy running is because of all the teammates… The team community is what makes me want to come to practice everyday and push through all of the endurance and some of the pain.”

Stephens is not the only stand-out 800 meter runner on the Urban team. Luka Hecht (‘21) is coming into the season strong in just the first weeks of practice. Hecht has a personal best for the 800 of 2:15 minutes. In an interview with the Urban Legend, Hecht commented,“I really started getting into running in seventh grade. In seventh grade, I broke the county record set by an eighth grader. In eighth grade I broke the same record twice and that was for the 800m Washington county in Ann Arbor, Michigan.”

Both Hecht and Stephens are among the athletes to look out for on the Urban track team, as they train to improve their already exceptional personal bests this season.