Girls track 4xmile places eighth in the nation

Edwards, Vatnsdal, Rocchio, and Matthews run their victory lap after finding out their placement in their heat.

Edwards, Vatnsdal, Rocchio, and Matthews run their victory lap after finding out their placement in their heat.

Emelyn Harris

On March 11 the girls track team participated in the 4xmile at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. This race took place in Boston, Massachusetts, at the indoor New Balance track. 

Mary Edwards, Emma Vatnsdal, Maddie Rocchio and Kaelina Matthews pose for a photo after winning their heat.

Four NC athletes, Mary Edwards, Emma Vatnsdal, Maddie Rocchio and Kaelina Matthews, competed against the top high school runners from around the world.

Matthews after winning the race)

“The runners were from all around the world. There were people from California to Colorado, and all the way to Canada and Italy,” Matthews said.

The group started off strong with junior Maddie Rocchio. Rocchio enjoyed seeing Boston for the first time and running on the brand new New Balance track. 

“I have never been to Boston before and it was such a cool city. The track was brand new and the environment in Boston was amazing,” Rocchio said. 

The second leg of the 4xmile was senior Mary Edwards. Edwards was pleasantly surprised by the results and was excited to partake in all traditions that followed after the race. 

“My favorite part was the victory lap because it was so unexpected when we won and it felt so professional. We had the cameraman showing us, and I watched all of these races online and now we were in that place,” Edwards said.

The baton was then passed to senior Emma Vatnsdal. Vatnsdal was eager to race in a new and unique environment, forming an eventful setting for the athletes to compete in. 

“I loved getting the opportunity to race against people that you have never raced against before. It was really cool to see people who were at such a high level of running,” Vatnsdal said. 

North Central won their heat with a final time of 21:21.61.

Carrying home the victory for the Panthers as the anchor was sophomore Kaelina Matthews. Matthews said all the runners were in very close proximity, allowing them to succeed and thrive in the 4xmile race.

“We are all within about 20 seconds from each other and were super consistent throughout our races. We know that we can all rely on each other to continue running at that pace,” Matthews said.

They finished first place in their heat and eighth overall in the nation. This was a huge accomplishment for the girls track program as it continues to grow and succeed. 

This event attracted the best high school track athletes from around the world to all compete against each other. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our Panthers and they embraced the challenge head on. 

“Seeing the track was super cool and seeing all the athletes there and knowing that we were at that level too and just seeing the environment was really fun,” Matthews said. 

The four girls have been running together everyday and continue to push each other and help each other succeed. The four of them ran together last year in state and have only improved since then. 

“We all want to see each other improve. We are not upset if someone runs better or worse, we just always push each other to be their best and celebrate their successes. This teamwork works very well for relays because we love to cheer each other on,” Rocchio said. 

The team’s biggest strength was their team camaraderie and positivity towards each other. Their friendship helped them persevere together as a group. 

“All of us run at a very similar level and our running times are very close to each other. Many of the other teams that we competed against had girls that ran times that were minutes apart, but all of us were very similar speeds which set us apart from other teams,” Edwards said. 

The New Balance Indoor Nationals is one of the top races of the year and hosts many incredible young athletes as well as professional athletes. Rocchio was able to meet some of her idols.

“I met Emma Coburn and Sydney McLaughlin and I will never fully believe that I actually got to meet them. They were both at my hotel. I saw Emma Coburn walk past me and I was shocked and could not believe that it was really her. Then I saw Sydney McLaughlin in the elevator when I was going down to the meet. I will never forget that I got to meet them, and the whole experience was just so much fun,” Rocchio said. 

The trip was filled with many memorable moments that the athletes will hold on to forever. 

“This most memorable part was rewatching the video and seeing the part where we won. I will never forget because we were super confused on if we won or not and actually hearing that we won was such a special moment,” Matthews said.

The girls’ teamwork, determination, willingness to compete and hard work paid off. All of the athletes that competed should be congratulated for their outstanding performance and they are looking forward to the remainder of their upcoming 2023 outdoor track season.