It's not too often that an eighth-grader is allowed to move up to compete on a varsity track and field team. It's even rarer when an eighth-grader wins a county title her first season on the team.
For Stephanie Gerland, however, it's become a reality.
Gerland started Garden City's meet off on the right foot with a wire-to-wire victory in the 3,000 meters Wednesday night in the Nassau Class A county championships at St. Anthony's.
Gerland won in 10:31.45, four seconds ahead of Massapequa's Catherine Young (10:35.5).
"It's amazing," Gerland said. "Being able to run with the varsity team is really an honor."
Gerland, who came into the race as the top seed, took the lead from the opening gun and built a 30-meter lead on the rest of the field by the end of the first lap.
She never looked back after that, extending her lead to nearly half the track as she cruised to victory.
"I just ran my own race," she said. "I just wanted to keep pushing myself on every lap."
Gerland took fifth in the 1,500 later in the meet, clocking a 5:03.92.
"I wanted to get as many points as possible today for my team," she said.
Amanda Ashe of East Meadow took third in the 3,000 in 10:38.07. Kaelyn Greene of MacArthur finished fourth in 10:47.45, while Stephanie's older sister Jen placed fifth in 10:51.30.
"My teammates mean everything to me," Stephanie said. "I really wanted to win this one for them."