Volume 77, Number 1 | June 6 - 12, 2007


Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

I.S. 89’s Dontree Riangkrul, middle, sped past other runners to finish first in the sixth grade 1-mile run. His time was 6 minutes, 6 seconds.

Fleet young Region 9 runners cut through the heat

By Lucas Mann

Held under sweltering conditions, the Fourth Annual Region 9 Middle School Track and Field Series kicked off at the Murry Bergtraum Field in Chinatown on Fri., June 1. With temperatures in the low 90s and the event being held at midday, the series posed tough conditions for any runner to battle. An ambulance was present and had to be used to treat one runner for heat exhaustion.

Still, the Region 9 athletes persevered and kept running with the aim of finishing in the top four in their events, which would secure them a spot at the championship at Randall’s Island’s Icahn Stadium. Some new district records were set. Roy Santiago, from I.S. 111, set the new benchmark for seventh and eighth grade boys in the 75-meter dash. Patty Rosa, of Manhattan Academy for Technology, did the same for sixth grade girls in the 300 meters.

Downtown Manhattan was well represented in the competition. Manhattan Academy for Technology, despite having a student body of only 388, finished second over all and will send 15 students to Icahn Stadium, a new team record. I.S. 89 of Tribeca won the Best Newcomer Award. Another impressive finish came from the Greenwich Village Middle School, which, while not in the top five finishers, qualified to race in four events at Icahn Stadium. One of their runners, Zipporah Gatling, a seventh grader, did not crack the top four in her event — though she had thought she would — but still exemplified the fighting spirit of a young team from a school with only 215 students.

“I think our team will end up doing really good, we just need to start training more,” said Gatling. She knows something about dedication. At 12, she’s already working on her second Broadway show, “The Color Purple,” having previously been in “The Lion King.” Still, with all that success, all she wants to do is run. “I like running better [than acting],” she said. “My dad and brother ran, and I have a passion for it on my own. Acting I had to be pushed to do.” She said she sees the same dedication for running in her teammates. “One thing about us is we all love to run,” she said, “so that means there’s nothing stopping us.”

In the stands for the award ceremonies, Gatling looked upset when her name was not called, but that didn’t keep her from cheering on her teammates. Before the ceremony, event organizer and M.A.T. Coach John De Matteo spoke to the athletes and commended their sportsmanship. He then said, “This isn’t about winning or losing. Running is about finding what’s inside of you.”

Gatling plans to watch her friends at Icahn Stadium, but also knows that running is not over for her.

“Of course I’m going to keep running,” she said with finality. “I want to be a track star. You don’t achieve anything if you don’t keep pushing yourself.” With that kind of attitude and a talented squad, it won’t be a surprise if Greenwich Village Middle School returns to overachieve even more next year.

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