Bryell Wheeler has established herself as a dynamic sprinter and Elyssa Gensib is a gifted distance runner but they are both diversifying in their senior campaign to help the Princeton High girls’ track team.
For Wheeler, doing more for the squad comes down to increasing her focus on the jumping events.
“I started doing the triple jump in winter track and on my first jump I did 31’6,” said Wheeler.
“Ever since then, I keep setting personal records. In the Mercer Relays I did 38’1 and we set a record with 72’2. My best event is now the triple, it used to the 100.”
Last Wednesday in a 91-40 win over Nottingham, Wheeler showed she could still flash plenty of speed, overcoming injury to win the 100.
“I pulled my hamstring last week but it is recovered now,” said Wheeler.
“I was a little scared to come out with that. My time was 12.7. In the first meet of the season running against Trenton and North (WW/P-N), I ran a 12.2. But it was a really sunny day so I guess the weather has something to do with it.”
Wheeler did draw confidence due to putting in extra conditioning work. “I am lifting more,” said Wheeler. “I am getting stronger.”
The willowy Gensib, for her part, has displayed her strength through competing in shorter races.
“I am really happy because, except for one meet where I ran only one event, I have been running at least two or three events every meet,” said Gensib.
“I feel like it just makes me stronger even though I am tired. I can go and do something I didn’t think I would have been able to do before.”
Against Nottingham, Gensib flashed her speed in the 800 as she posted a solid victory.
“I didn’t really know what to expect from the other team; I was just trying to go for 2:20,” said Gensib, reflecting on her win in the 800.
“When we were about 200 meters in, I was like OK this is going to be a Princeton thing with all the PHS girls up front. I was just trying to focus on what I am supposed to accomplish in the middle of the race which is to push when it is a little uncomfortable. I ran a 2:23. I was a little surprised because I thought I was slower.”
Gensib also pushed hard in the 4×400, helping PHS to a win in that event as well.
“I like running the 4×400 because it is fun when you have other girls with you,” said Gensib. “It is not a solo effort so everybody works together. It is nice.”
The team’s corps of distance runners which includes Jenna Cody, Amelia Whaley, and Belinda Liu in addition to Gensib works together well.
“It is good to have some girls that you know what they run like and you can help each other out,” said Gensib.
“We know what it is supposed to feel like; it is good because we have the support of one another so when we go to big meets, it is not like oh I am by myself. It is nice that other people are going through the same thing.”
With the county meet slated for May 12 at Steinert High, Gensib plans to feed on that support.
“It is going to be a really tough race, especially the 1,600 because there is a good girl from South (WW/P-S) and a girl from North (WW/P-N),” said Gensib, who came up big last Saturday at the Mercer Twilight Invitational at Robbinsville, winning the 1,600 in 5:04.57 and the 3,200 in 10:52.90.
“It is not going to be an easy race so I am really excited to see what I can do when I get pushed like that.”
Wheeler is looking to push herself over the rest of the spring. “I want to place in nationals in triple jump, I have already qualified,” said Wheeler, who plans to compete in college and is considering Virginia State and Rider.
“I want to make it to the New Jersey Meet of Champions in the long jump, triple and 100, maybe the 200.”
Gensib likewise is aiming to produce some championship performances in her swan song with the Little Tigers before she heads off to the University of Pennsylvania and joins its track program.
“It is sad because I am going to really miss my coach [Jim Smirk] and teammates,” said Gensib.
“My coach has brought me so far because I just started running seriously last year. I would have never thought I would be running like this. I just want to make him proud and see what I can get out of this year before I go to college.”