Sports

North Salem Junior Has Improved by Leaps and Bounds

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Ben Leicht leads the pack in the 800 meters at the Westchester County Championships. Credits: Vic McGee
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North Salem junior Ben Leicht is a member of the spring and winter track and field teams. He also runs on the cross-country squad.

How old were you when you started running competitively and how did you get started?

I started when I was 12 years old with then modified cross-country team after being cut from the North Salem modified soccer team.

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What is your favorite part about being a part of the cross-country team at North Salem?

I loved being captain of the team.  The leadership responsibility was great for building my character as a leader as well as as a runner and teammate.  Furthermore, loved being a part of the team. We have such a tight-knit group which not only works hard, but has fun doing it.

How do you see your role on the team, and how much do you value being a leader?

I see my role as captain of the team as a great responsibility which has taught me to always act as a role model for the team, asking as much from myself as I do from my teammates.

How much progress have you made as a runner since you first started?

Every year I am surprised how drastically my perception of my maximum capacity changes.  For example, as an eighth-grader, it was inconceivable that I would ever break a five minute mile, yet now I’m capable of a 4:20 mile and am continuing to improve.  I’ve grown to appreciate just how great it is to pursue an active and fulfilling lifestyle as well as how much hard work and dedication can bring to my running ability.

What is your favorite team activity, pre-meet or post-meet ritual that you shared with your teammates?

My favorite team activity has always been Carvel Wednesday, a day when most of the team heads over to Carvel to take advantage of buy one get one free for soft-serve.

What was the most memorable part about this past season?

The most memorable part of this past running year was probably achieving a low 4:20 mile time and meeting the standard for states.  However, as an overarching theme of the running season, I would say it was the team spirit which was the most memorable. There are few teams which can be as close as ours whether it be through jokes and fun or mutual devotion.

Do you or does the team have any goals for this season?

Generally, the goal is always to make it to states.  The standard is always getting harder however we have a legitimate chance for many of the girls and boys of the team to go to states.  The boys 4x400 relay has shaped out to be great this year and did great this past winter track season and underclassmen Ava Jolley and Juliette Intreri as well as junior Stella Ard have been working really hard to improve their times and meet personal bests. For me, I hope to go to states for the 800 and 1,600.

Who has been your biggest role model over the years and what have you learned from them?

My role model since eighth grade has always been Evgeniy Batuyev. I remember hearing about him running insane times while I was in the eigth grade and always strove to be able to run with him.  Throughout the years, he has been a training partner and friend which has pushed me to do my best and always run my best.  Although we have had our share of tough times in our running careers, one thing that has remained consistent is his support for my running and my development as a runner.

Tell us one thing about yourself that not a lot of people know?

Not a lot of people know that the only reason I ended up being a runner was because I was cut from the soccer team and had no choice but to join the cross-country team.  My love for the sport grew from there.

Do you plan on continuing running in college? If yes, where are you going and why did you choose that school?

Right now, I am adamant about pursuing an ROTC program or going to a military academy for college.  Should I do ROTC, I will most likely not run in college.  However, I would love to run for one of the academies as they are known for their extremely strong teams.  Regardless of whether I continue into a competitive career in college, I will always continue to run and pursue an active lifestyle on my own, hopefully.

Do you know what you want to study in college? If yes, what and why?

I’ve always been interested in aerospace and physics. My grandfather was a pilot in the Navy and always amazed me with the physics and aerodynamics involved with flying.  Furthermore, I have always idolized major physicists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking, and have been amazed with the inner workings of the universe.

Who is your favorite professional athlete and pro or college sports team?

My favorite athlete is actually in high school and she is a year younger than me. Katelyn Tuohy is one of the most amazing athletes I have ever witnessed in track.  Not only is she untouchable in her running, but she maintains an outstanding GPA and works incredibly hard.

If you could pick one place to visit on vacation that you’ve never been to, where would you go and why?

I would travel to Asia and hike the Himalayan Mountains for a year.  I love challenging myself and pushing my limits, what better way to test my limits then to hike the tallest mountains in the world.

What is your favorite food to eat before or after a meet?

Before every meet I eat a bowl of Steel Cut Oatmeal, a fried egg and a bowl of fruit.

Best place to eat in North Salem and why?

Hayfield’s of course. First off, I work there so swing on by! Also, they make a mean bacon, egg and cheese!

For a young athlete growing up in North Salem, what would you tell them about the experience of being part of the cross-country and track and field programs and why should they go out for the team?

Cross country/track is one of the most rewarding sports out there.  Though it takes hard work, dedication and sometimes pain, the work we do here is not only for the team but for the athletes. Where many sports have an object like kicking a ball in a goal or throwing a ball in a hoop, track is a sport for self-fulfillment. We work hard because we respect not only are team but ourselves, accepting the fundamental idea that a moment of pain is worth a lifetime of fulfillment.

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