PA Salute To Seniors: Eliana Yankelev - Lower Merion
What was your most memorable race/competition?
This past year's indoor state championship. Being in a position where the top five seeds were in contention for the state title and coming out on top was the most thrilling, incredible, and gratifying moment of my high school career. Also, since it was my first time appearing in the indoor state finals (as well as my first state title), it was all the more memorable.
Photo by Charles Stone
Where did you face your biggest competition?
Aside from NB Nationals, at the District 1 Championship this year. Throughout the season, I didn't have the opportunity to race anyone ranked ahead of me in the state, and Districts was the first time I faced the same competition from the indoor season and truly had to race through three rounds.
Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
There are three major accomplishments from my senior track season that highlight my entire career. Firstly, winning the indoor state title in the hurdles: It was the first ever championship for a Lower Merion indoor track athlete in program history, which is an incredible accomplishment. Second, at the District 1 Championship, though I placed second, I ran a PR while breaking the Central League All-Time 100H record. Lastly, finishing a dream season at the top of the podium in Shippensburg as the only individual girls champion in LM track history.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
Looking back, I don't think I would try to change anything; aside from avoiding injuries, things worked out pretty well in the end.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
Definitely training through pain. My first time competing at outdoor states (my sophomore year), I was in tears from the pain I was pushing through, and I fought through lingering tendonitis in my hip for four years. Another thing that was incredibly hard for me was not having a training partner at school. My coach did a great job with keeping me motivated, even running workouts with me and pushing me when I would normally be running alone.
What will you miss the most?
I will miss the camraderie and knowing everyone at meets and the amazing support I've had from my coaches. It will definitely be strange to go back to not knowing anyone warming up on the infield, and although beginning new relationships with my college coaches will be an amazing experience, it will be hard having to leave the program that has supported me so well for the past four years.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
Don't wait to get serious about running if you fall in love with it the first day of practice. I waited until the end of my sophomore year before I truly acted upon my passion for the sport, and if I had started weight training and running harder at an earlier time, things would have been a lot different for me. Also - never hesitate to introduce yourself to someone at a meet. I've met some of my closest friends waiting at the high jump pit or at the starting line.
How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?
My high school coaches, Coaches Stinson and Hoopes, have given me unwavering support through all of the low points in my career, reminding me never to give up even when there is nothing I'd rather do. Coach Stinson has given me amazing advice about balancing being not just a collegiate athlete, but also being a student, and he has helped me to gain confidence going into my first NCAA season. My coaches have reminded me that although track can be a very individual sport, you are never just running for yourself - you're running for your team, your coaches, your family, and most of all, running to make your mark and inspire future runners to do the same.
What are your college plans?
I will be attending and competing for the University of Pennsylvania!
Shoutout to: LMTF, my incredible coaches, friends, and family (the real stars), SE, 62, Penn16Track, KK, JM, AB, CW, and everyone who has helped out or given support in one way or another over the last four years.