Ford City grad Haley Gabor gears up for last track meet of solid senior season at Westminster
It's down to the final few sprints for Haley Gabor.
Gabor, a senior on the Westminster track team and a Ford City grad, has had a standout final year for the Titans, with personal records and team wins piling up during the indoor and outdoor seasons.
The final meet on the Titans' schedule, the Gregory Invitational at North Central College (Ill.), begins Thursday, and barring qualification for the NCAA Championships, it will be the finale to a decorated senior season and career for Gabor.
“I'm beyond ecstatic with how this year has gone. Coming into college, I never thought I'd have the success that I've had,” Gabor said.
Gabor's big year began in the indoor season, where she established herself as the Titans' top sprinter and helped propel the team to the Presidents' Athletic Conference championship in February.
At that championship meet, Gabor won the 200 meters (26.44 seconds), was second in the 400 (59.18) and was part of the first-place 1,600 relay team (4:09.36). The times in each event set a school record. She set a fourth school record of 8.11 seconds in the preliminary round of the 60, as she went into the spring's outdoor season at the top of her game.
“I'd have to say the PAC Indoor Championships was a highlight of my year,” Gabor said. “For both (men's and women's) teams to come out as PAC champs was amazing and to have so many records broken, it just propelled us into the outdoor season.”
The success continued into the outdoor season, where Gabor again won the 200 and 1,600 relay while placing second in the 100 and 400 at the PAC Track & Field Championships on April 26. Her performances helped Westminster finish second, and she earned the honor of Women's Track co-MVP.
Gabor said there were a few changes she made to elevate her performance during her final season, but the biggest thing she has done differently was to take better care of herself.
“One thing I did this year was to stop pole vaulting. In the past, I'd had some injuries from that, and it made me take time off so I wasn't able to train,” Gabor said. “Being healthy has really been the biggest difference this year.
“I've cut out any big injuries, and I've been smarter about any small ones I've had so I didn't make them worse.”
As good as Gabor has been this year, she might come up just short of a spot in the NCAA Division III Championships later this month. The top 22 times in each event qualify for nationals, and Gabor's best in the 200 — the 25.25 she ran at the PAC Championships — placed her 32nd nationally as of last week.
“Ever since I started running, I've had it in the back of my mind as a goal. If I could knock another .2 seconds off in the 200, that would definitely get me in,” Gabor said.
Though an NCAA spot is Gabor's last big goal, missing out isn't going to put a damper on her great season. As she prepares to graduate with a degree in chemistry, Gabor hopes to finish strong and enjoy her last few races with her teammates.
“In our last meets, I just want to run well and encourage our underclassmen,” Gabor said. “We have three standout sophomores with me on the 4x400 relay, and I want to try and get everyone under 60 seconds before I'm done.”