‘The TRACK’ splits up JV and Varsity meets

by Marisa MacDonald, Sports Editor
photo courtesy of Boston Landing

A new athletics facility in Boston Landing opened in April 2022, and supposedly houses the fastest track in the world. Appropriately titled “The TRACK at new balance”, this 250,000 square-foot athletics center houses a state-of-the-art track, complete with space for 5,000 roaring fans. 

Senior boys indoor track captain Marcelo Kuperwasser said that he’s excited to use the best technology athletics has to offer.

“Not all tracks are built equally. Depending on how the track is made and the composition of the actual ground you’re running on, it’ll be more bouncy with more energy return,” he said. “We’ll just have better times because it’s a better track. People get to run faster, jump higher, jump further, and so on.”

Since 2002, high school athletes from all over the state have raced at the Boston University (BU) Track and Tennis Center. For even longer, they have raced at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, known for its poor air quality and the origin of the infamous term “Reggie Cough,” used by runners to refer to the burning sensation in runners’ lungs following a race. 

Senior girls indoor track captain Christine Zong said that, compared to the old facilities, running at The TRACK will be a big step up. 

“Most of our meets were at Reggie Lewis and BU, which is pretty old. The air is really bad, and there’s not much space, so it’s gonna be really different to be at a brand new track that has all these high-tech features,” she said.

For good reason, the new facility is in high demand, hosting many collegiate, professional and high school meets throughout the year. Since typical indoor meets lasted four to six hours, meets needed to be cut shorter and became varsity-only competitions this year, girls track assistant coach Ariel Kenyon said. 

“They have a really tight schedule, so we only have three hours to compete,” she said. “We just don’t have enough time to get everyone in, so our big meets are going to be varsity only. We have four on the calendar right now of JV-only meets, most likely at BU.”

Instead of the program racing all together, meets will be divided by level, on different days and at different locations. Zong said JV-only meets have existed for years, held in South’s field house and run by coaching staff and varsity athletes. Now, they’ll be run by DCL officials.

When a meet was running especially late, Zong said it was the JV races that were on the chopping block. With the new system, they’ll always get a chance to run.

“Varsity events will run first, and then sometimes we’ll just run out of time for JV events, especially the sprints, which a lot of JV kids tend to lean towards. Sometimes, a JV athlete wouldn’t even get to run in their meets because of this lack of space and time. Now they’ll be able to,” she said.

Even though the combined meets can be arduous, sophomore Max Hubbard said the competitive nature of varsity athletes can be a positive influence.

“Just having the opportunity to see what varsity looks like when you’re racing is great,” he said. “If there’s less pressure at a meet because no one needs to score, people might just not take it seriously or as competitively.”

Existing cohesively as a single program regardless of racing level is a fundamental tenet of the team, senior girls indoor track captain Mitchy Bojar said. 

“I can honestly tell you that I don’t even know who’s on JV and who’s on varsity,” they said. “People always raced two separate events as JV and varsity, like one event varsity but then run a JV relay. It’s never been ‘These are the people who are varsity, these are JV.’”

The whole team always supports each other, regardless of racing level, they said. 

“I could always hear everyone cheering for me through the noise, through everything,” they said. “It just builds you up so much, but now some of my friends on JV might not be there.”

Despite the difficult length of meets, Kupperwasser said that he prefers staying for hours, united as a whole team.

“I don’t like it because as captain I want my team to be together. I want a whole team,” he said. “Yes, meets are long, whatever. But I want everyone there. I want everyone encouraging each other.”

Bojar said they plan to work hard during practices and team-bonding activities to keep the team united.

“We’re going to make sure that we all warm up, practice and work out together, including everyone,” they said. “[We’re] making sure that everything, except the meets which I can’t change, is the same, so no one pays attention to who races what.”