STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - For any student-athlete, competing in one state championship is quite a feat. Competing in two state championships in the same school year is almost unheard of.
That was recently accomplished by Lakeland senior Lauren Salazar, who served as a captain for both Lakeland’s field hockey and Lakeland/Panas’ girls track and field teams.
In the fall, she played for the Hornets’ field hockey team, which won their 10th state title in the last 11 years, and 13th overall, in their legendary history.
More recently, Salazar ran for the Lakeland/Panas’ girls track and field, 4x200-meter relay squad, along with Walter Panas’ Taryn Hodge, Makayla Waugh, and JaLia Williams.
That quartet competed in the 2020 New York State Public Athletic Association Championships at the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Facility, on Staten Island on March 7.
“It means so much to me that my team, and I, in both sports, have made it so far,” Salazar said. “This has always been our goal. To have as much fun, and to enjoy what we are doing, and to make it far, and that is exactly what we did.”
The relay team placed 15th at States with their second fastest time (1:46.54) of the year.
“We knew we had to perform at our best to do well in our heat at States,” said Salazar, a second-year track captain, who made her second trip to the states in the last three years on the 4x200-relay. “There was insane competition, and just having the chance to run with the best teams in New York again is something that I am so grateful for.”
Lakeland/Panas’ coach Ryan Johnson said he was very proud of his squad.
“It was a great experience for the girls,” Johnson said. “They had to fight through some major injuries.”
Salazar had one of those injuries, overcoming a severe ankle sprain suffered six weeks ago.
“It was so great to be back running with my team and being back at States was amazing,” Salazar said. “After spraining my ankle, I tried to do everything to get back as soon as possible and run again. I really missed running with my team in those few meets that I couldn’t run, so coming back and running at state qualifiers, then States, was so exciting. This was my last indoor 4x200 race, and it was so great to come back.”
Waugh stood out as well, having a breakout day with a personal best leg of 26.3 seconds.
“They were successful because they had a goal and were willing to do what it took to get there,” Johnson said about his 4x200-relay squad.