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July 12, 1991 - Image 51

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-07-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Special to The Jewish News

arsha Sakwa re-
members vividly
how she got her son,
Merrek, started in track.
Nine-year-old Merrek, she
recalls, had long legs and
"wouldn't sit still." So she
enrolled him in a summer
track program. But Merrek
didn't take to track im-
mediately. He failed to finish
his first race. Afterwards, his
father, Sheldon, told Merrek,
"I don't care if you win; you
should finish."
Today, Sakwa not only
finishes his races, he usually
finishes • first. Sakwa, who
will be a junior at Bloomfield
Hills Andover High School
this fall, is already a league
champion in two sports, a
Maccabi winner and may be
on his way to becoming one of
the top distance runners in
the state.
Sakwa and four other
Jewish teammates — Aaron
Weitzman, Dan Hamburger,
Jeremy Rodner and Dan
Rontel — helped Andover win
its first Southeastern
Michigan Association boys
track championship this
spring. The team was coach-
ed by Paul Dain, who, ironic-
ally, also coached nine-year-

On the Right Track

Miler Merrek Sakwa and four Jewish teammates
led Andover to the Southeastern Michigan
Association championship.

old Sakwa in his initial track
Young Sakwa quickly learn-
ed that he was best-suited to
distance running, as opposed
to sprinting "because I don't
really have any great speed:'
He ran some quarter-miles in
middle school but runs
nothing shorter than 800
meters today.
Sakwa says a good distance
runner combines speed with
endurance. "For the half-mile
and mile you need a mix of
speed, especially in the half-
mile. And you need the en-
durance to hold up the speed.
When you get into the two-
mile and up and cross country
and half-marathon or

marathon, you need great en-
durance plus your mind has
to be into it. Because if your
mind loses it — it's happened
to me in the two-mile, I just
lose it mentally — then you
lose your form and you just
want to give up and you run
really bad. So your mind has
to be into it and you have to
concentrate the whole race.
As soon as you mentally lose
it, your whole race is actual-
- ly gone."
As an example of how the
mental aspect of running af-
fects performance, Sakwa ex-

Merek Sakwa, left, and Aaron
Weitzman are both juniors
next fall at Andover.

plained that he caught the flu
early in the 1991 high school
season and missed four days
of practice. "When I came
back, I wasn't in good shape
and mentally I wasn't into my
races. What I was doing was
I was really running terrible
times, times that I ran in
eighth or ninth grade. One
day I won a race — my time
wasn't that great — but win-
ning the race . got me mental-
ly into running again and I
was pumped up for all the
other races. And that's when
my times started coming
A distance runner, even at
the high shcool level, can
often improve a great deal by

working on his endurance.
This is in contrast to a
sprinter, who must struggle
to improve by tenths of
seconds. •
Weitzman, a sprinter,
understands this. Like
Sakwa, Weitzman was a
sophomore last season. His
best time in the 100 is 11.7.
His goal is to chop .7 seconds
of that time. He is trying to do
that by improving his
strength with a weight-lifting
routine, emphasizing both up-
per and lower body muscles.
"Upper body's just as impor-
tant as the legs;' he explains,
because a sprinter gets much
of his speed from pumping his
Weitzman was mainly a
relay-runner in Andover's key
meets this season, although
he also ran the 100- and 200-
meter dashes in many dual
Sakwa ran the 1600, 3200,
the 4 x 800 relay and, occa-
sionally, the 800. His best
times were 4:34 in the 1600
and 10:14 in the 3200.
Andover became the first
team other than Southfield or
Troy to win the SMA boys
track title. The Barons, who
joined the SMA in 1981, beat
the Blue Jays and the Colts
on their way to an-undefeated
dual meet season, then cap-



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