PARSIPPANY _ Erin Hughes thought nothing of loaning her cheetah print Brooks spikes to Sierra Castaneda, her close friend and West Morris teammate.
The spikes, which Hughes owned since seventh grade, were several years old when she handed them over to Castaneda, who had forgotten to bring hers to the Randolph Invitational, her first cross country meet.
Fourteen months later, the borrowed spikes, a half size too small, are still on Castaneda's feet and have become a staple on race days.
On Tuesday, Oct. 21, Castaneda, dominant this fall, ran a 18:44.53 to capture the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Championships Large Schools Varsity Race at Central Park at Greystone. Ally Schlosser of Parsippany topped the field in the NJAC Small School Varsity Race, crossing the finish line in 19:02.53.
"I just kept the spikes because Erin never asked for them back," said Castaneda, a 16-year-old junior.
With her lucky footwear on, Castaneda, equally devoted to swimming, has been impressive, winning her share of NJAC batch races. Last fall, she was 10th at the Meet of Champions.
"I wanted my time to be a little bit less," Castaneda said of her most recent showing. "I hoped it would be but I certainly can't complain. I'm shocked I won. I am so happy."
"I was just going for it," she said. "I wanted to be in control the first mile then go for it. I was in a big pack for awhile."
She broke away coming up the hill - about a mile and a half into the race. Castaneda credited the pack with pushing her, namely Ashleigh Thurston of Morris Hills.
The school day prior to the race was stressful for Castaneda, who was absent on Monday to attend an open house at Bucknell, where she visited with former Wolfpack teammate Brennan Sharkey. She spent part of Tuesday catching up, having to do a chemistry II AP lab, work for physics and other assignments.
"Being busy left me no time to think about the race," she said. "I was excited to run. I had no worries about it. I only worried about my classwork."
Schlosser, who took part in only three races last season before being sidelined with a stress fracture of the femur, considered her effort one of her greatest achievements.
Last spring, Schlosser experienced one of her finest moments as a runner, coming in second in the 1,600 at the North Jersey Section 2, Group II meet, right behind Summit's Gillian McIlroy, in 5:11.06.
"This is right up there," Schlosser said. "A lot of people on our team had PRs. The adrenaline was rushing. I kept thinking of the team and of us winning the title. We all put in a lot of hard work. I hoped it would all pay off."
As it turned out, the Red Hawks were fourth behind Mountain Lakes, Villa Walsh and North Warren.
Schlosser, a junior, did not run the race the way she had planned. She wanted to complete her first mile in 6:15 while staying with the leader. Then, Schlosser said, she "wanted to kick past at the end."
Instead, Schlosser went out fast with North Warren's Regina Duncan, who took second in 19:38.31. She passed Duncan at the mile mark and stayed in front.
"The first mile was like 5:50, not what I wanted," Schlosser said. "I did the first 100 sprinting. After the first mile, the North Warren girl would gain on me and I'd try to go faster. She was always right there. She was close."
Schlosser struggled much earlier than usual. Her legs ached. She never settled down. She thought of Parsippany coach Briane DeGironimo who tells her runners "to move it from your legs to your heart" and pushed forward.
It was one of her more difficult races but Schlosser plans to put it behind her and focus on the Morris County Championships.
"There's going to be great competition," she said. "I'm going to run a better race. I'd much rather have a time than a place."
Sophomore Kyra Velock led the Lakers to the NJAC Small Schools team crown, taking third in 19:54.72. Four other Mountain Lakes runners were among the top 17.
"We all felt we'd PR and we did," Velock said. "Everyone did awesome. We went out and did our best. Our coaches were motivational. They felt we could do it and encouraged us."
Mendham, with freshman Hope Tiboni taking seventh in 19:05.79, garnered the NJAC Large Schools team championship. Randolph, missing several runners, was second. Carole Harsch was second to Castaneda, completing the course in 18:57.91. Margaret Thomson was fourth.
For complete results, follow this link: http://mctrack.org/NorthJerseyAC/PNorthJersey.html
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Wahneta Bears Thursday, 13 November 2014 23:00 Comment Link
Go, Sierra, Go !! We all know that you can do it. Go show them how.