Great strides were being made at the National Junior College Athletic Association Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Armory in Manhattan on Saturday, hosted by Monroe College. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Participants put in grueling training for the National Junior College Athletic Association Indoor Track and Field Championships.
"This week, coming up to the meet, we trained really hard," said Renaldo Ball, a freshman at Monroe College. "We had three workouts back to back, which was some of the hardest workouts we ever did."
This year, Monroe College, with campuses in the Bronx and New Rochelle, N.Y., hosted the event at the Armory on 168th Street in Manhattan. It was a first for the school whose team started with just 10 athletes five years ago and now has grown to about 90.
"We knew that it would be a really special thing to have all of the teams from around the country come to New York City," said Mark Goodman, the head coach of the Monroe College track and field team. "The people here will have a very nice perspective, a very wonderful perspective of the college and New York City and what we do here."
It's the first time the meet was held New York City or even on the East Coast, even though the Armory is considered the nation's fastest track.
"Even if they don't win a medal, to come here and actually have the best performance you've had collegiately until now, what a great way to walk away from this national championship," said Mary Ellen Leicht, executive director of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
The event was surely one to watch. Aside from the live spectators, more than 90,000 tuned in to a live webcast of the event.
For Monroe and all the other colleges at the event, it was a chance to showcase more than their athletics programs.
"Our colleges allow those student athletes who need to either academically get a little bit better, they need to mature, they have family obligations," Leicht said. "So it provides them with an opportunity to continue to compete athletically, which keeps them involved in college, which gives them a reason to come back."
"When I came here, it gave me more structure, more discipline, 'cause to be on the team, you have to have a certain GPA, so it helped me a lot with trying to be more disciplined with my school work," said Jessica Barrera, a sophomore at Monroe College. "Like last semester, I had a 4.0."
Giving students a stepping stone to a better career athletically and academically.