Seniors run for USA at youth championships

By Michael Sugerman

For track stars Cami Chapus ’12 and Amy Weissenbach ’12, this summer has been full of record breaking times and international competition.

In June, Chapus ran the fastest high school outdoor mile time in the nation this year at 4:42.71.

Weissenbach set the all-time national high school outdoor record time in the 800-meter race with a time of 2:02.04, and was recognized as the National Girls’ Track & Field Athlete of the Year by the Gatorade Company in late June.

In July, Chapus and Weissenbach ran at the U.S. trials for the World Youth Track and Field Championship in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Chapus competed in the 1,500-meter race (100 meters short of her usual event, the 1,600-meter), finishing with a time of 4:25.61. Weissenbach competed in the 800-meter race, and finished with a time of 2:09.52.

With their times, both Chapus and Weissenbach qualified to compete in Lille, France.

Later in July, they competed in Lille with the United States national girls’ track team. In the preliminary heat, Chapus ran 4:22.69, and Weissenbach ran 2:05.84. They both won a spot in the finals.

Chapus finished fifth in her final race, though her time of 4:17.12 is the fastest girls’ outdoor time for an American runner this year.

“It was really exciting,” Chapus said. “At first, I actually didn’t realize it because I’m used to running the 1,600 or the mile, and I was really just planning on going out there and racing.”

Chapus was also excited because her time bested that of well-known University of Oregon runner Jordan Hasay as a high school junior by 12 milliseconds. Hasay currently holds the all-time national high school outdoor record for the 1,500-meter, which she ran as a high school senior in 4:14.50.

“It was really exciting for me knowing that she’s a really famous high school and college runner, and that she ran this event too and got faster from there,” Chapus said.

“This year the 1,500 that I ran in was really fast,” she said. “Every other year, my time would’ve gotten second place. It just made me feel great that I could end the season on such a high note.”

Weissenbach finished in fourth place in the 800 meter race with a time of 2:03.59.

“I still hold the record for my race in general, so it was disappointing not to do as well,” she said. “But I gave it my all, and it was just a really cool experience to run with the best people in the world at my sport.”

Chapus and Weissenbach were the only two national representatives from the same school, which is pretty significant, coach Tim Sharpe said.

While in Lille, Chapus and Weissenbach maintained daily routines to keep themselves in prime physical shape.

Every morning, Chapus ate either pancakes or waffles. The night before every race, Weissenbach ate a full steak and a pasta entrée.

During the day, Chapus made sure to stay hydrated. To keep from becoming anxious, “I try to occupy myself with other activities, like hanging out with my friends,” Chapus said.

“Cami and I have become obsessed with G Fit [part of the Gatorade Sports G Series], so we have that before every race,” Weissenbach said. “We also have a bunch of lucky items we touch before races, especially this stopwatch from the Olympics.”

To warm up prior to her races, Weissenbach, who had a hip injury last season, did exercises to prevent such and injury from recurring. Chapus would do “shake-outs” every morning — exercises consisting of one mile of jogging and then some light stretching.

In terms of mental preparation, “I always jump super high three times before each race, and then I smile,” Chapus said. “It calms my nerves, and it reminds me that I’m happy to do this.”

To ensure the athletes stay focused, the team refrained from tourism.

“When we weren’t running our event, we were either training or at the track cheering on our teammates,” Weissenbach said. “We were there to bring back medals for the United States, so there wasn’t any sightseeing involved.”

To further guarantee that the athletes would focus on their races, they were not allowed to see their parents. The team stuck together to maintain a high level of overall group concentration.

However, Sharpe, who went to France as a spectator, was allowed to see Chapus and Weissenbach and make sure the national coaches maintained the girls’ workout regimens.

“I developed a very close relationship with the [US team] distance coach and was always able to meet with the girls before their warm-ups and before they went in the call tent,” said Sharpe, who referred to himsef as a hybrid between spectator and coach. “Even though I wasn’t with them all the time, I was able to be with the girls at the most essential times to make them feel a little comfortable.”

“Of course, both girls will continue to improve,” he said. “The reality is, as well as both girls have done, they haven’t been training since they were little kids. Truthfully, they’ve been doing this for a short time and have lots of room for improvements.”