Northeast Times

The need for speed

“I just love all the ac­com­plish­ments run­ning has got­ten me. It’s just my sport. I feel like it’s a part of me.” — Teresa Ort­iz

“We will, we will race you!”

That’s the last thing that rang through run­ner Teresa Ort­iz’s mind be­fore she claimed first place at the Cath­ol­ic League cham­pi­on­ship on Oct. 22 at Bel­mont Plat­eau. 

The mod­i­fied ver­sion of Queen’s We Will Rock You has be­come an an­them for the St. Hubert High School track team. The Bam­bies sing it be­fore every race. 

For Ort­iz, it has been work­ing won­der­fully. 

“We all get so pumped up,” said Ort­iz, a ju­ni­or run­ner for the Bam­bies. “We say the team pray­er and then we sing the team song. It really gets me pumped up and fo­cused.”

A three-year varsity run­ner, Ort­iz has sprin­ted to a re­cord-break­ing sea­son with the Bam­bies’ cross-coun­try squad. She placed first in the PCL cham­pi­on­ships, fin­ish­ing 19:14.50 in the 5,000 meter. Not only was her time a per­son­al re­cord, but it also was the fast­est re­cor­ded time in the Cath­ol­ic League since 2006 and the third-fast­est in St. Hubert cross-coun­try his­tory. 

“It was amaz­ing,” said Ort­iz. “I worked so hard for that and it felt really good. It’s a com­plete hon­or to be known at my school.” 

The St. Hubert squad fin­ished third dur­ing the PCL cham­pi­on­ship, with a total time of 1:47:00.20. Arch­bish­op Wood claimed the team title (1:43:40.90) and Car­din­al O’Hara earned second place (1:46:11.90). 

“I thought the sea­son, over­all, was really good,” said Ort­iz. “We worked a lot harder. A lot of girls im­proved from last year. We really wanted to win this year. I feel like every­one was really de­term­ined. We all im­proved a lot. We had a lot of strong ath­letes.”

Next up for Ort­iz was the PI­AA Dis­trict 12 Cham­pi­on­ship, and she once again claimed the in­di­vidu­al cham­pi­on­ship crown. This time around, she fin­ished with a time of 19:29.75. 

ldquo;It was very ex­cit­ing. I’ve dreamed of that since fresh­man year,” said Ort­iz. “I was very nervous, but I didn’t let my nerves get the best of me. I felt like it was my year to make a state­ment, and I did.”

Her suc­cess earned Ort­iz a berth in the coveted PI­AA State Cham­pi­on­ship tour­na­ment, held on Nov. 5 in Her­shey,. Three fel­low Bam­bies — Erin Love, Gina Mont­gomery and Erin Flem­ing — ac­com­pan­ied her in the statewide com­pet­i­tion.

Ort­iz fin­ished 131st with a time of 20:45.00. 

“She’s had a ter­rif­ic year,” said St. Hubert coach Phil Re­illy. “She won the Cath­ol­ic League and dis­tricts. She’s a very tal­en­ted ath­lete.”

And she isn’t done just yet. 

Her hero­ics throughout the fall — in­clud­ing first team All-Cath­ol­ic hon­ors — have helped Ort­iz qual­i­fy for the Re­gion­als, which will be held in up­state New York on Nov. 26.    

“I’m still prac­ti­cing. I run at Fath­er Judge,” said Ort­iz, re­fer­ring to Fath­er Judge’s track loc­ated be­hind the school. “I’m still get­ting my workouts in. I’ve pro­gressed so much. I just have to keep try­ing my best and keep fo­cused. I know what I want and I will go for my goals. I didn’t think I’d get this far, but I now I’m more and more fo­cused.”

A soc­cer play­er for most of her life, Ort­iz didn’t start run­ning com­pet­it­ively un­til her fresh­man year at St. Hubert High School. At the time, she was try­ing out for the Bam­bies’ varsity soc­cer squad and no­ticed that she ex­celled most dur­ing the run­ning drills. 

“Fresh­man year I didn’t even really know what cross-coun­try was,” she said. “I was train­ing for soc­cer, but I loved run­ning so much, so I tried cross-coun­try and stuck with it.”

Since then, Ort­iz has evolved in­to a corner­stone for the Bam­bies’ track pro­grams. She com­petes for the varsity cross-coun­try team in the fall, then runs in­door track in the winter be­fore mov­ing on to the track-and-field squad in the spring. 

Now a ju­ni­or, she has earned All-Cath­ol­ic hon­ors sev­en times — three con­sec­ut­ive with the cross-coun­try team and a pair of hon­ors for both in­door and track and field. Ort­iz ba­sic­ally com­petes year round — she has about two weeks off in the sum­mer. 

“We start train­ing in Ju­ly for cross-coun­try,” ex­plained Ort­iz, an hon­or stu­dent who is en­rolled in ad­vanced-place­ment U.S. his­tory and Eng­lish courses. “Then as soon as one is over, it’s time for the next. I like cross-coun­try the best be­cause I’m a lot bet­ter at cross-coun­try. I like the long-dis­tance stuff bet­ter. 

“I like go­ing straight from sea­son to sea­son,” she con­tin­ued. “I just love all the ac­com­plish­ments that run­ning has got­ten me. It’s just my sport. I feel like it’s a part of me.” ••

You can reach at myerkov@bsmphilly.com.

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