All anyone curious to see a prototype for a long-distance runner would have to do is watch Eleanora Undrus in action. Athletic, lean and long-legged, the 5-foot-10 Undrus not only looks every bit the part, but runs it, too.
“She’s got long legs,” Shoreham-Wading River High School sophomore Madison Zelin said. “She has a really great work ethic and she just tries very hard in practice. She always has a good day.”
Sunday was another one.
Undrus was impressive Sunday in the Wildcats’ 74-44 season-opening home girls winter track win over Mount Sinai. The senior flew to first place in the 1,000 meters and ran an impressive opening leg for the second-place 4×800 relay team.
Asked about Undrus’ performance, SWR coach Paul Koretzki said, “It was perfect, obviously.”
One thing Koretzki, in his 56th year of coaching, already knew was that Undrus is a worker. In fact, Koretzki said he was worried that Undrus was training too hard from the time the spring track and field season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic up until Thanksgiving.
“I said, ‘You got to stop,’ ” Koretzki said. “She stopped, and now she’s back. It worked out well.”
Sunday was the start to an undoubtedly strange season for SWR, with outdoor dual meets and face-mask requirements for athletes during competition. Koretzki said he has been involved in crazier meets, but still. As for the weather, well, it was 27 degrees shortly before the first race of the day.
“I looked at the wind speed this morning because I was just curious,” Undrus told reporters. “I wanted to know what I’m dealing with, and I saw that it was pretty strong. It was like 20 miles per hour, so I knew I was in for it in some sections of the track where it would be hard to push.”
Zelin, winner of the 300 in 48.6 seconds, said: “We practice every single day in the cold. The cold doesn’t stop us.”
In actuality, the athletes, coaches, officials and media members in attendance (spectators were not permitted) received something of a break since the wind didn’t feel as severe because SWR’s track is in a gully and largely protected by surrounding trees.
Undrus pulled away to victory in the 1,000 in 3 minutes, 40.7 seconds, well ahead of the next finisher, teammate Anne Sheehan (3:53.3). “I didn’t even know what kind of competition I was kind of chasing today, so since I got to the starting line I was like, ‘OK, maybe just like get ahead and see what happens,’ ” said Undrus.
In the 4×800 relay, Undrus gave her team the lead on the first leg, which she ran in 2:56.
“I told my team my goals have changed in the past 24 hours,” she said. “At first, it was like pr, and then I realized it’s going to be kind of hard to do that, just with everything going on, being outdoors. It’s cold, it’s windy. I feel like I did the best that I could today.”
Emily Cook (2:05 in the 600) and Torre Ann Parrinello (8:52 in the 1,500 walk) also turned in winning performances for SWR. Parrinello has never lost a walk race in a dual meet, said Koretzki. The 4×400 relay team of GraceAnn Leonard, Elizaveta Undrus (Eleanora’s sister), Abigail Beran and Cook won in 5:16.63.
Mount Sinai’s Carli Sheiffel was a part of three first-place finishes on the day. She had victories in the 1,500 (5:41) and 3,000 (12:41) in addition to running a leg for the winning 4×800 relay team (12:22).
SWR started the day with a 26-9 lead since all the field events were held remotely over the previous two days. Eleanor Panasci high jumped 3 feet, 10 inches, Beran long jumped 14-0 and Colleen Ohetman triple jumped 28-5 for first-place SWR points.
Eleanora Undrus, who would like to become an FBI special agent one day, said: “I feel like everyone did amazing today © Whether it’s on the relay or individually, they all know how to push themselves and really be their best, even through these conditions.”