Not many runners enjoy hills. Hilly cross-country courses are steep, grueling, and mentally taxing. The only good part about hills, most runners proclaim, is that once you're on them, they're almost over. But give Bay Shore's Jasmin Reyes a hill and she'll smile with delight. Reyes isn't just a runner. She's a hill runner, and proud of it.
"I love hills," said Reyes as she talked about the course at Sunken Meadow State Park. "I love running Snake and Cardiac. I definitely have an advantage because a lot of girls tend to slow down when they hit Cardiac. I pick it up and take advantage of the downhills. It helps me have momentum when I'm on straight roads, especially on downhills toward the moat."
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Reyes began her senior season in dominant fashion, winning the 5K Varsity A race at the Bob Pratt Invitational in 20 minutes, 14.73 seconds on Sept. 19 and the 5K Varsity B race at the Suffolk Coaches Invitational in 19:57.25 last Saturday. Both races were run on the punishing Sunken Meadow terrain and both featured a friendly face pulling up beside Reyes as she crossed the line.
Teammate Bridget Kanaley finished second in both events. The junior ran the Bob Pratt Invitational in 20:50.31 and the Suffolk Coaches Invitational in 20:04.58. The two continued their joined-at-the-hip trend by tying for first in 17:46 on Sunken Meadow's 2.7 mile course in the Marauders 15-50 duel meet victory over Whitman Tuesday.
Kanaley said that Reyes' enthusiasm for hill running helps her get through the toughest part of most courses.
"Jasmin is very strong on the hills," Kanaley said. "I feel that, if I were running alone, I probably wouldn't get up them as well. But, having her there pushes me and we get up nicely. I just try to stay with her."
In some ways, Reyes is just trying to keep up with herself. Her 19:57.25 at the Suffolk Coaches Invitational surpassed her season goal of breaking 20 minutes in a 5K. Now, with almost a full month until the Suffolk division championships, Reyes finds herself needing to set new goals.
It's a good, if not unexpected, problem to have.
"Now, I know that I'm capable of running faster," Reyes said. "I broke the goal that I've had since the summer and now I know that I can run this next goal that I'm aiming for."
That goal, she said, is 19:40 in the 5K.