I can still remember my cross country recruiting trip to Stony Brook like it was…well, maybe not quite yesterday, but certainly the day or two before that. It was a night filled with bona fide memory-makers for a hardcore nerd like myself (I shudder to think that it was even worse when I was still in high school), and I guess there was something covertly intriguing about pigging out at the local Green Cactus, watching a rented copy of ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ and sleeping on a future teammate’s dorm room floor that got me excited about officially becoming a Seawolf (whatever that is).
Before I could align myself with a cult whose competition dress includes scarlet red booty shorts and who worships what appears to be a blue wolf in tube socks (seriously, have you seen the statue in the athletic complex?), I had to stumble through the whole meet-and-greet thing…a quick introductory course in learning everybody’s names, finding my way back to the locker room without wandering into the training room and jogging at a ‘conversational’ pace with a few future teammates around campus (and beyond).
The run itself wasn’t bad…an easy four miles around a few winding roads behind the train tracks-pretty standard for a getting-to-know-you-hope-you-like-our-team type of thing. We returned to campus for a quick set of stride outs on the track…
And that was the first time I saw it.
First of all, I couldn’t help but notice that it’s BLACK.
Now, there are two kinds of tracks I would really like to banish into another dimension: really low-quality red tracks (the ones that have probably been there since Vietnam) and black tracks.
There’s just something about black tracks that reminds me of the physical fitness mile in middle school. They have a different feel to them-a more amateurish, two-day-a-month jogger sort of feel that for me, always seemed to make the run feel longer.
Besides, there’s something that’s just satisfying about the red layer of track dirt that collects on the bottoms of your sneakers after a good workout. It’s not quite the same as a battle scar, I guess, but it is a friendly reminder of how you triumphantly surged through those endless mile repeats without, you know, actually dying.
It’s not even the fact that the Stony Brook track looks like a big strip of asphalt, (which I would gladly accept if it were good quality asphalt) but somehow, the thing hasn’t even been painted over the years. See for yourself…no lines, no lanes, no numbers, no nothing.
The truly sad thing is, however, that this is essentially the main workout space for a team that has consistently posted some pretty impressive results. I was there (aggressively photographing) when the women’s cross country team took the America East Conference Championships after getting five girls in the top ten. Might I add that that victory was the first of its kind for ANY Stony Brook University women’s team…?
Last year, the Lady Seawolves did it again, this time getting four girls under the 18-minute mark for 5K (3.1 miles for those of you who aren’t big on conversions), including Lucy and Holly Van Dalen (who I’m convinced were genetically engineered in their native New Zealand to massacre anything in spiked track flats), Hayley Green, and Laura Huet. Okay. How many of you macho guys out there think that YOU could run that fast (and I don’t want to hear that you’d totally be able to if you were after Megan Fox)?
Furthermore, last semester, (a.k.a. spring track season) Lucy Van Dalen (now junior, then sophomore) placed NINTH at NCAA’s in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:18:76. Meanwhile, her twin sister Holly currently holds the record for both the outdoor 5K (16:13:35) and the 3K (9:32:41). Hard to believe that I’m Facebook friends with these girls.
Understatement alert: the team deserves a new track. Now, I’ll admit I don’t know what the budget looks like over at the athletics department, but I’d really enjoy seeing what the girls could do on a brand new, super-springy eight-laner that doesn’t resemble a piece of the highway. The Stony Brook team is proof that you don’t need a good track to have a good team, but honestly, wouldn’t it be nice if they did?
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