CHATHAM, NJ – Four years from now, an assessment can be made about the accuracy of Chatham girls track coach Gianna Parlavecchio’s prediction for freshman runner Ella Spina.
“She wants to be the best,” Parlavecchio said. “She has that drive about her. She can only go forward from here. I could see her being one of the top runners in the state moving forward.”
She’s already “moving forward” pretty fast as far as Chatham track times go.
In a seven-day span, Spina has been the common denominator in helping the Chatham girls track squad secure team championships at the Morris County Frosh/Soph Relays, the Randolph Relays and the Morris County Relays.
“She’s very humble, you would never expect her to be an athlete like this as a freshman,” Parlavecchio said. “Coming into a big program like this, she’s our top 400-meter runner (with a 62.0 best time). She does everything I ask her to do.”
Ella Spina is the Chatham Wealth Management Athlete of the Week.
“I was definitely very surprised I’ve been able to make it this far, especially as a freshman,” the 15-year-old said. “I was excited to get the opportunity to run with the varsity and I was surprised that with all the great athletes in Chatham that they decided to take me.”
On Saturday, Parlavecchio asked Spina to run in four relays for Chatham and her performance helped the Cougars place in all of those events on the way to the Large School A Division championship at the Randolph Relays.
“Yes, it was tiring, but it was fun to run with the team and represent Chatham, too,” Spina said. “It was really fun. I love running.”
Spina plays midfield for her Morris Elite soccer team and she had been running on her own before she joined the winter track team this year.
“I like to go out and run by myself by my house and I really got into this year,” Spina said. “I also play soccer, so I like to run. Running is kind of calming for me. It’s a time I can just forget everything. It’s nice to clear my mind.”
Parlavecchio got an inkling that Spina might be an athlete to watch during the winter track season.
“I was the throwing coach in the winter season and I noticed Ella,” the coach said. “She first came in running a 67 in the 400 and the next meet she ran a 63. I was also impressed with her leadership skills at the Frosh/Soph meet. She was directing girls, helping them with their starts and handoffs. I was very encouraged to see such a young athlete with these skills.”
Although she didn’t start track until this year, Spina has been putting in the time to get in shape for soccer.
“I’ve been working the last few years to get where I am today,” Spina said. “I’ve been working with a personal trainer and work in the gym a lot to get faster. I do lots of leg and core workouts. I feel like I’ve definitely gotten faster.”
Spina credits her mother, Amy Spina, and soccer coach Scott Maloney, who pushed her to better herself.
“My mom is proud of my work ethic and that I don’t back down from a challenge,” Spina said. “I got that from her and my coach. They pushed me to be better and not settle. I like to go farther and do more than I think that I can. I don’t know where it came from. I like to know that I can do more.
“I just went into track with an open mind. I didn’t hate the 400 as much as I thought I would. It’s sprinting an entire lap. It challenges me mentally. It’s over really fast, the last 100 of the race is the toughest part.”
Now that she’s the fastest 400 runner on the Chatham team, Spina is looking for ways to improve her race technique and has set goals for faster times.
“I think my main goal this year is to try and break 60 in the 400 and eventually get it to 59,” Spina said. “I think I need to continue to work hard and improve things like my starting and getting out on the first turn. So in practice, I’m going to continue working.”
Editor’s note: The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Chatham Wealth Management in recognition of the commitment a Chatham athlete has made to their sport, their school and their community. For over twenty years, Chatham Wealth Management has been committed to putting our clients first by crafting customized investment solutions. Call us at 973-635-4275 or email us at email@example.com to discuss how we can help meet your financial goals. To learn more about our products and team, visit us at www.chathamwealth.com.