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The Balladeers channeled Mulan, Gloria Gaynor, and Beyoncé as they entertained Middle and Upper School students at their annual morning assembly.

Big Blue Beat: Boys' and Girls' Varsity Winter Track Teams

By Ethan Malzberg '19

Head Coach: Chris Shilts P '17, '19, '21, '24

Last season's highlights:
Under the leadership of captains Ally Bisgay '17 and Julia Dannenbaum '17 for the girls' team, along with Matthew Peacock '17 and Sean Wang '17 for the boys' team, Big Blue winter track had a successful showing last season. The girls are defending state champions, having won both the NJSIAA Non-Public "B" Relay Championships last January, as well as the NJSIAA Non-Public "B" state title in February, their first state title since 2009. An impressive number of 10 girls advanced to the Meet of Champions, and pole vaulter and school record-holder Julia Dannenbaum '17 even qualified for Nationals. The boys' team finished sixth out of 17 schools at the state group meet.

What to watch for this season:

• Captains Ben Vazquez '18 and Tyler Williams '18 will lead a boys' team of 14 this year. Colin Edwards '18 and Zach Aanstoots '18, who holds school records in both the long (21' 9-¼) and high (6'4") jumps, round out the rest of the senior roster for the boys' team.

• Captains Avery Schiffman '18 and Anna Wood '18 will lead a girls' team of 28. Other seniors include Elle Braverman, Hailey Cernuto, Josie Cummings, Sehyr Khan, Maddie Parrish, Sana Sheikh, and Sophia Weldon, school record-holder in both the triple (38' 1-½) and high (5'6") jumps.

• In middle and distance events, watch for Avery Schiffman '18, who broke the school record in the 600-meter run (1:46.81) at Bishop Loughlin Games on December 16. Anna Wood '18, who won the 3200-meter race at the group state championships last year, and newcomer Ryan Davi '21, who set a new school record and won the 1,000-meter race (3:06.61) at Bishop Loughlin last weekend, will also be runners to watch. Nicole Vanasse '20, who set school records in both the 800 (2:14.52) and mile (5:00.69) during the outdoor track season last spring, and placed third at the NJSIAA Cross Country Meet of Champions this past fall, will be another talent to watch. Also watch for Ben Vazquez '18, who just broke the school record in the 600-meter run (1:24.57) at Bishop Loughlin, as well as Joe Shilts '19, who, at the same meet, broke the school record in the 300-meter run (40:15).  

• In field events, Sophia Weldon '18, who won both the triple and high jump events at states during the outdoor season last spring, will be running winter track this season for the first time. Caroline Dannenbaum '20, who won the pole vault at Bishop Loughlin last weekend, clearing a new personal best of 12,' will be a key contributor.  Also watch for Zach Aanstoots '18 in the long and high jumps (he placed second and third in these events, respectively, at the outdoor group state meet last year).

• With sizeable rosters on both sides, the girls' team, specifically, is looking to defend its state relay and group state titles. From there, the coaches would like to see as many runners as possible qualify for the Meet of Champions at the end of the season.

Full-court Press:
"I'm a 'process' person. If we focus on the process rather than the result, the results we are looking for will come. We need to have people showing up to practice everyday, and there, they need to be doing all the work and making smart choices. Athletes need to know their own bodies; it's all about keeping everyone healthy. If we do the right things day to day — lifting, smart running, and all of that—and if we're truly invested in all of these things, then the rest will take care of itself.—Head Coach Chris Shilts

Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer,