|Jaskot's photo finish (photo: Kyle Brazeil /ny.milesplit.com)|
By Meagan Jaskot
It was the morning of the New York State track and field championships and just about everything was going wrong for Tappan Zee senior Erin Jaskot. Despite a chaotic morning, the high school standout was crowned New York state and federation champion in the 1000 meter race.
After missing her shuttle bus from the hotel to the track at Cornell University, Jaskot nearly missed her race. She arrived with just enough time to warm up and get to the starting line.
She remarked that her morning seemed like it was a scene out of a movie. "From when I woke up I was feeling overwhelmed, everything was just so hectic," Jaskot said, "I missed my alarm, so I was running behind schedule. I didn't really eat anything for breakfast. When I ran to the lobby I saw the bus pulling away."
In addition to the morning mishaps, Jaskot was learning to deal with the target on her back, as she entered the race as the highest ranked athlete. "There was definitely some pressure going into the race as the top seed. I was never in that position before, but I tried not to let it get to me." Ultimately, Jaskot wasn't able to contain her nerves."I felt like I was about to break down before my race. I don't usually get like that," she recalled.
Jaskot toed the line without a plan. "Since the morning was so hectic, I didn't even really have time to think strategy. Before I knew it, the gun went off." She found herself leading the race for the first four laps of the five lap race. At the bell lap, Jasmine Fray of Kellenberg Memorial High School in Long Island made her move and surged into the lead. For the first time that day, Jaskot somehow managed to keep calm. "It didn't make me panic because I knew I could get her back. With about 50 meters to go, the memories of nationals crept into my head and that gave me the final push that I needed in order to win."
It was a photo finish between Jaskot and Fray. The circumstances were all too familiar to Jaskot, who is no stranger to narrow losses. Fray, the rising junior, earned All-American Honors last March after placing sixth at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. Her performance pushed Jaskot into 7th place, missing All-American status by one spot. This time around, it was Jaskot who reigned supreme, defeating Fray by a nose, clocking 2:54.62 over Fray's 2:54.69.
"I just kept thinking, '.2.' Finding out that I missed All-American by such a small margin was hard to accept. That was something that I wanted so badly," said Jaskot, referencing her disappointing finish at the national championships last winter. Determined to retaliate, Jaskot made use of her signature kick as she charged down the final straightaway and cruised to victory.
Standing atop the podium was a "dream come true" for Jaskot, who competed at the state championships all four years of high school.
Jaskot will finish off her season competing in the 800 meters at New Balance Nationals on March 16th. She hopes to accomplish the goals that escaped her a year ago. "This year I hope that I can finally achieve All- American status. It's my senior year, I'm just going to go for it and see what happens."