Greenwich High School’s 1600-meter sprint medley relay team will never forget Friday, June 17, 2022.
That’s the day the foursome of Kaitlyn Fay, Olivia Eslava, Haley Townsend and Esme Daplyn teamed up to produce an All-America performance at one of track and field’s biggest stages – the New Balance Nationals Outdoor.
The Cardinals’ speedy quartet posted an outstanding second-place finish in the Championship division of the 1600-meter sprint medley at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor in Philadelphia, Pa., registering a time of 4:07.64. Their impressive time earned them a first-place finish in their heat, an overall second-place finish in the nation in their race, a silver medal and All-America accolades.
Motor City from Michigan won the race with a time of 4:00.31, while La Salle from Rhode Island placed third behind Greenwich, clocking in at 4:07.94. The top six teams received All-American honors. Fifteen relay teams in the country qualified for the finals of the Championship division of the 1600-meter sprint medley relay event, which featured two 200-meter legs, a 400-meter leg and one 800-meter leg.
“Our goal was to make top-six and make All-American,” said Daplyn, who concluded her sensational sophomore season in style. “We came in first in our heat and we weren’t too nervous about not being with the fastest runners in the first heat, because we knew we already exceeded all expectations.”
The Cardinals foursome, who ran in the event’s second heat wound up registering a faster time than each competitor in the first heat. They eagerly watched the teams in the first heat race after they won their heat.
“We knew if we had won our heat, we had a shot at making top six,” Daplyn said. “We won the race in our heat, but we had to watch the other heat go after us. All of us were jumping and cheering once we got second place.”
“It was really shocking at first,” said Townsend, a junior. “We all worked really hard for this and it definitely paid off.”
The 1600 sprint medley relay began for Greenwich with Fay running the first 200 meters.
“I was a little nervous coming into it, since we were chasing after that All-American title,” said Fay, a junior. “It was a great turnout for us. The weather was great and I ran a PR (personal-record) split. We ended up beating all those teams in the fastest heat and finished in second place.”
Fay passed the baton to Eslava, a senior, who ran the race’s next 200 meters before a cheering crowd at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor.
“Kaitlyn got us into a really good place, then she handed the baton to me,” Eslava said. “It was over 90 degrees, we knew the heat was going to be a factor. I was injured for most of my outdoor season, I hadn’t run the 200 in a few months at this point. I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself.”
Eslava certainly rose to the important occasion.
“I knew I didn’t want to drive us down,” Eslava said. “I knew these girls were really fast and being in the second or third fastest heat, we were right there.”
Townsend then ran the 400-meter portion of sprint medley for Greenwich.
“Kaitlyn started us off with a good start,” Townsend said. “She put us in a really good place and Olivia kept where Kaitlyn put us and I tried to hold that position. There were a lot of really fast girls in the 400.”
Townsend then handed the baton off to Daplyn, who chased down her competitors and Greenwich had its first-place finish in the heat and second place showing overall.
“We were in the third or fourth when I got the baton, but I like being in that position,” Daplyn said. “It does put pressure on you when you get the baton, but that pushes me. It is kind of difficult if you are given it in the first-place position, because you have to maintain that lead. I was pretty patient and the last 200 meters, took over the lead.”
For Eslava, the All-America effort at a prestigious national meet was the best way for her to finish her Cardinals high school track and field career.
“It feels great, it was definitely unexpected,” she said. “At first, we were seeded seventh in the championship division. We were completely unsure what the outcome would be like. We weren’t sure what we were getting ourselves into. We knew that the competition was going to be tough before we had even raced.”
“We were holding hands in a circle praying that our times would get us in a top-six position,” Eslava continued. “When the race ended, we looked up at the board and it said Greenwich track was second, it was the most amazing feeling. It was the last race of my high school career, so it was an amazing way to finish it. I wanted it to be my best race and I wanted it to be super memorable.”
And indeed, it was.
“Olivia is a senior, so it was special to send her off to college with one of the best races of her high school track career,” Daplyn noted.
Fay, Daplyn and Townsend will each serve as Greenwich’s captains next spring.
“Hopefully, we can teach the younger ones what it takes for them to do the best they can,” Fay said. “This year, each of us knew what we needed to do and we executed it perfectly. We have a great mentality on this team and we all pushed each other to our limits. This last meet was definitely a great meet that will leave a mark on me for a while.”
“We are looking forward to having the opportunity to lead our team,” Townsend said. “There were a ton of new freshmen this year and the atmosphere on the team was so much fun, which helped a lot in getting us to what we have become.”
Fay and Townsend are also members of Greenwich’s soccer team.
“I have played soccer my whole life, but now track has become extremely important to me,” Fay said. “Now we are using soccer to prepare for the track season.”
With another successful track season now completed, Greenwich’s track athletes are already building upon their impressive legacy.
“It was a season of learning while racing,” Daplyn said. “To end the season with second place at nationals showcases how strong we are as a team.”