WESTFIELD, NJ — With record-breaking finishes, Katie Hamilton has made it clear that she aims to leave an impressive legacy on the Westfield Track and Field Program.

The Westfield High School junior opened up the season with a first place finish in the 1000-meter at the Len Pietrewicz Invitational Dec. 30, breaking both the school’s and the meet’s records with her time of 2:57.27. Hamilton is this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week. She also finished first at the Yale Invitational Girls 1600-meter, breaking the school record with her time of 5:00.86 on Jan. 13.

Hamilton holds the outdoor school records for the 1600-meter and 800-meter as well as the indoor school records for the 1000-meter and 800-meter. Head coach Jennifer Buccino is especially proud of Hamilton’s impressive growth over the years.

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“Last year she was able to qualify for the Meet of Champions and a medal for third, despite the fact that she was never in a seeded heat ... not in the Sectionals, the Group Championship or even the Meet of Champions themselves,” Buccino said.

Hamilton, who has been running competitively since kindergarten, ensures that she performs her best by visualizing herself in the competition before it happens.

“Like most runners, I get very nervous before races so I tend to listen to music to decompress and get excited,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton’s success on the track comes despite spending most of last year’s winter season sidelined by an ankle injury.

“I found that the most important part of being hurt is to maintain a positive attitude,” she said. “Not being able to do what you love for so long is a very painful process.”

Hamilton said she is interested in the humanities and hopes to pursue political science and journalism in college. For now, however, she remains focused on doing her best for the track team.

“Our goals are to qualify for the Penn Relays and New Balance Indoor Nationals Championship race in Distance Medley Relay,” Hamilton said. “Individually, I have never run a 1600 [meter] indoors, so I hope to have the opportunity to do so.”

Shreya Jyotishi is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.