Sometimes Secaucus coach Stan Fryczynski calls her “The Jukebox.’’ After all, at any time, Samantha Nesheiwat might burst into song.
This might happen on the track, in the woods during cross-country practice, even in the middle of a 5,000 meter race.
It’s not full-throated “Glee” material or something out of an old MGM Hollywood musical, but the Patriots’ senior admits to singing out loud to give herself a confidence boost when she most needs it.
“Music helps me go faster,” says Nesheiwat, who captained her team to Secaucus’ first North 2, Group 1 sectional cross-country title as a junior and hopes to lead her team to a second this fall, and an improvement over the 14th-place finish the Patriots enjoyed at last year’s Group 1 championship. “I try to sing low, but I sing out loud, especially when I’m running up a hill and I need a little boost.”
According to Fryczynski, that’s fitting for Nesheiwat, who he calls the most happy-go-lucky individual he’s ever coached.
“She’ll get done with a workout and just start singing a cartoon song or something else that gets everybody going.”
But her smiling exterior belies a committed, intense athlete who puts everything into everything she does.
“She leads by example in practice and in the meets and puts everything into it every day,” Fryczynski said. “Sometimes I have to shut her down and make sure she doesn’t overdo it.”
“Stan is unlike most other coaches,” said Nesheiwat, who is a three-season track and field and cross-country performer. “He makes you know your own limits and he makes me learn how to do my best every day.”
And that best is pretty good. Nesheiwat was ninth in the winning sectional race last fall and had been fourth in the sectional the year before at Greystone Park in Morris Plains where the race will return this year. She also won the 2012 NJIC Meadowlands title and was seventh last year, as the Patriots won both league titles.
She placed in the 1,600 and 4-x-400 relay indoors and in the 4-x-400 and 4-x-800 relays at sectional outdoors last season in track, and also has had success in the long and triple jumps and both hurdle races.
“I started out as a sprinter, and I didn’t really start running distance until my sophomore year,” said Nesheiwat, whose older sister and brother were track athletes at Secaucus. “Then when I started running cross-country I would throw up after every workout.”
But rapidly Nesheiwat developed into Secaucus’ No. 1 distance runner with only a lingering battle with tendinitis in both the knees and ankles slowing her down last year. Her promise was shown by a splendid fifth-place finish in the Hudson County championships before the tendinitis came back.
“I did soccer and softball when I was younger, but I really didn’t like either sport,” said Nesheiwat, who will continue running in college while studying sports medicine or teaching.
“Cross-country is a team sport, but you’re independent and pushing yourself, and the better you do the closer you come to achieving something for your team and yourself.”