“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.” ••