The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

Fifty years in the making

The girls’ track team has already achieved early success this season and is awaiting more record-breaking marks.
Photo courtesy of Leo Schlechter ’25
Paige Evans ’27 has made a huge impact on the team.

The LM girls’ track team has much to celebrate during the 50th anniversary of the team’s establishment in the 1974-75 school year. The team, led by captains Aine McCann ’24, Sarah France ’24, Emily Zhang ’24, Abby Gannon ’24, Faith Law ’24, and Katherine Morales ’24, report to Arnold field everyday for practice. The ordinary weekly schedule consists of at least one Central League Meet and, more  often than not, a weekend invitational meet. The days in between are filled with rigorous workouts with head coach Sandra Hoopes, helping each girl get better.

The 50th anniversary of the team is not just about celebrating the accomplishments and achievements of the runners: it is also celebrating the career of Hoopes. Without Hoopes, there would not be girls’ track in the Central League, as she was the one to advocate and rally for equal opportunities in sports for girls and boys. Zhang said, “It’s clear Hoopes is really enthusiastic about what she does. She believes in the potential every girl on the team has and helps them reach that

The hard work of both the coaches and girls has paid off. Law stated that “the team is doing so well and I can’t wait to see what the future holds because, every year, the runners are getting better and better.”

Viola Davis ’27 broke the freshman school record in the pole vault. (Leo Schlechter ’25) Photo courtesy of Leo Schlechter

Many solo runners, such as Dakota Duckworth ’25, Janell Mordi ’25, and Paige Evans ’27, have already qualified for the Central League championships hosted at LM. However, many of the runners on the team do not want their season to end there; they have their eyes on competing at Districts. The 4×400, consisting of Law, Evans, Mordi, and McCann, are only three seconds shy of a district qualifying time, a goal which seems very attainable. The varsity 4×100, Bryce Murray ’25, Sakinah El-Mekki ’24, Zhang, Mordi, qualified for Districts at a recent Central meet.  Evans ’27 also qualified for Districts with a time of 59.79 in the 400 and ran the freshman record in the 800m in her 4×800 relay with a split of 2:24.61. The successes of the class of ’27 insure the future of the girls’ track team is in good hands. Gannon commented, “This year we got a bunch of freshmen and I am excited to see how they improve.” Their improvement has been evident with a freshman 4×100 relay, including Ava Cranshaw ’27, Alexa Weatherwax ’27, Maya Duckworth ’27 and Camille Cohen ’27, qualifying for the prestigious Penn Relays. Hoopes added, “The freshmen class is amazing. They are 42 strong girls with  so much potential and are quickly developing into varsity athletes. Their enthusiasm is infectious. It is a great group to coach.”

At the core of the team’s successes is the team’s passion for not only the sport but supporting one another. El-Mekki explained that “As a senior on the team, it makes me so happy to see the dedication of all the younger runners. The girls are so supportive of each other; it’s really like a sisterhood.” During meets, it is not uncommon to find the majority of the team watching and cheering on other girls during their races. During mentally and physically tough workouts, teammates shout words of encouragement to their friends, pushing them to run their best. The passion of the girls goes beyond their immediate team. Every year, the girls come together to host and run a middle school meet at LM’s track. The older girls inspire the future of LM girls’ track by supporting the younger middle school girls through their races. With the program progressively expanding as the years go on, a lot of the girls on the team now remember running at the Arnold field track as middle schoolers, reminiscing on how uplifting it was for the high schoolers to root for them. While we celebrate the district winners, state champions, and record-breakers from the past fifty years, let’s also celebrate the promising future of the track team at LM, as it is just as bright as ever.

Graphic by Julia Zorc ’24

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