This article originally appeared in the Dec. 19 edition of the Grosse Pointe South High School's The Tower newspaper.
BY SYDNEY KELLER ’14 / Page Editor
While there weren’t any seniors attending Ivy League schools last year, athletes Christina Firl and Aubryn Samaroo, both ‘13, have verbally committed to Columbia University and Brown University, respectively, for next year.
Firl said she will compete in cross country in the fall. Both Firl and Samaroo said they will competein indoor track and field in the winter and outdoor track and field in the spring.
“I think both of the girls, both Christina and Aubryn, will excel in the Ivy League environment and it’s completely due to how they approach everything they do in life,” said Steve Zaranek, cross country and track head coach. “They’re not only very talented, but they’re very intelligent and they understand how to manage their time really well and they just thrive in that competitive environment."
Columbia first contacted Firl her junior year when she was living in New York. Since the IvyLeague does not offer letters of intent, Firl said sheverbally committed in October and received herofficial acceptance letter December 6.
“I chose Columbia because I’ve just always been interested in the school,” said Firl. “I love the fact that it’s in New York City and I really liked the way that it approaches academics. I really liked the team, the coaches and the atmosphere. I knew it was a very good school and it just seemed like the right fit."
Firl said she has been interested in the Ivy League since middle school.
“It was never any particular school in general until maybe freshman, sophomore year when I became really interested in Columbia,” said Firl.
At South, Firl has competed on the cross country team and in track and field every season except her junior year. Firl said she started cross country freshman year and track in eighth grade.
“I did eighth grade track and that was my first track season,” said Firl. “It was at middle school, so that’s when I started but I did soccer up until ninth grade. I did travel (soccer) throughout cross country season for ninth grade and it was really hard to do both so I focused on running.”
Firl currently runs about six days a week. Cross country and track teammate Kelsie Schwartz ‘14 said Firl is very dedicated.
“She (Firl) works a lot harder than a lot of peopleon our team,” said Schwartz. “She’s a great example for the rest of our team, how she works. She’s really fun and she’s a leader, more of a quiet leader, but her influence really reaches out to the younger people on our team.”
At Columbia, Firl said she will have unofficial runs with other teammates sometimes in the mornings and official practices in the afternoons, totaling two to four hours of practice per day year round. “I think Christina understands how to manage her time really well and she, I believe, will fit in that environment very quickly,” said Zaranek. “She’ll adapt, she’ll adjust and be able to handle the workload not only academically but also with sports.”
Aside from Columbia, Firl said she was also recruited by schools such as Cornell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Washington University in St. Louis and Williams College.
Samaroo said she verbally committed to Brown and received her official acceptance letter December12. Samaroo is interested in Brown because of the flexible curriculum.
“Brown has an open curriculum and it’s a lot more self-driven so you can make your own major if they don’t have it and you only take classes you want to take,” said Samaroo.
Since her sister started looking at colleges about seven years ago, Samaroo said she has been looking at the Ivy League. Her sister currently attends Brown.“My sister goes to Brown, but that just made me feel like Brown was my home because I’ve been visiting there so much since then,” said Samaroo. “I think that helped, but she didn’t encourage me to go one way or another.”
At Brown, Samaroo said there is practice for about two and a half hours a day. She will compete in track as a heptathlete, which is an athlete who participates in seven events.
“Aubryn is not only an excellent runner, but her specialty area is the high jump and that’s the main area where the focus of the recruiting is taking place,” said Zaranek.
As a heptathlete, Samaroo will be competing in the high-jump, long-jump, shot-put, javelin, 400 meter dash, 100 meter hurdles and the 800 meter run. Samaroo said most athletes are usually not recruited to participate in multiple events.
“It’s very rare to have a heptathlete,” said Samaroo.“Mostly (coaches) get them once you get there and they need to fill spots.”
Track teammate Meredith Gilbert ’13, who participates in shot put and discus with Samaroo, said she is a very hard worker.
“She’s probably one of the hardest working people I know,” said Gilbert. “She’s probably one of the first people out on the field, probably the last to go home. She really motivates us, not just our throwing group to do better but the entire team. She gets everyone into running and she boosts everyone’s confidence.”
Zaranek guesses that in the past 20 years, he hashad four or five athletes compete at Ivy League schools.
“I think the Ivy League schools certainly look for someone who is extremely well-rounded,” said Zaranek. “Aubryn and Christina have done everything from the community work to the work in school, all the classes needed to really prepare for an Ivy League school. South does a tremendous job with being able to prepare these kids who are at that level."