A fiery Long Island influence could be felt throughout the East Coast as women's college indoor track conferences crowned champions during the past two weeks.
Perhaps more appropriately, it was a Firebirds influence. Four Kellenberg graduates took home conference titles, proving that the high school's influence lasts long after graduation day.
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"It's a testament to Kellenberg's track program," Princeton's Kim Mackay, a 2011 graduate, said. "It's not just the training, because once you get to college it's a whole new training regimen and we're all individualized. But Kellenberg got us excited about the sport of track. That's why so many people, even if they're not recruited, choose to continue it in college."
Mackay won the 500 meters at the Ivy League Heptagonals in 1 minute, 12.88 seconds Sunday at Harvard. Fellow 2011 graduate, Albany's Michelle Anthony, won the 60 meter hurdles in 8.52 seconds at the America East Championships.
UConn's Odrine Belot, a 2012 graduate, won the triple jump at the American Athletic Conference Championships, flying 42 feet, 21/4 inches. Belot's former Kellenberg classmate Katie Cavanaugh of Gettysburg College won the 60-meter hurdles in 8.95 seconds, tying the meet record at the Centennial Conference Championships. Cavanaugh also won the 60- meter dash in 8.01 seconds.
"It's thrilling for us," said Kellenberg coach Marty Brown, who has been at the program's helm for 16 years. "This is why we do it . . . [Track] is a life sport and it shouldn't end in high school. If you do it and balance academics in a school like Kellenberg, you can definitely do it in college."Mackay, who was pleasantly surprised to hear about her former teammate's triumphs, still talks with a number of her Firebird compatriots. But the conversations rarely touch on track.
"Our friendships are rooted in something more than that," she said.
And perhaps that's the deeper part of the Kellenberg legacy -- forming relationships that go beyond the scope of competition. But, if ever track were to come up in conversation, there sure would be a lot to discuss. At this point, they could even compare medals.