Salute to Seniors: Dakota Gerges of Sayreville HS

Salute To Seniors is a medium for "senior farewells". With so many seniors heading off to bigger and better things we wanted to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time as well as invite those seniors to tell their stories from the past four years. We will be posting this series through July, if you would like to submit check out this article

Name: Dakota Gerges - Career Stats

High School: Sayreville HS

College: Rutgers University 

What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?

My most memorable race was GMCs my junior year. I won the 400mH in 61.9, just off the meet record. Before that race I had never broken 65. My coaches couldn't believe their watches. This race boosted my confidence and opened so many doors for me.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

Over the last four years South Brunswick has been my biggest competition. Our team fought to be GMC runner-ups to the power house team stacked with talented athletes. Desirae Osley of South Brunswick, now runs for La Salle University, has been one of my greatest competitors that I looked up to for my entire high school career. She pushed me every single race to be my best. I admire her for her competitive spirit and I'm so happy I've had the opportunity to compete with her. Ironically, my roommate Courteney Campbell is an All-American high jumper also from South Brunswick and I look forward to being her teammate next year.

What was your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment was placing 5th at Penn Relays in the 400mH. I had asked my coach to enter me in Penn Relays hoping I would qualify for the prestigious meet. I found out I would be one of only a select few of athletes from all over the world. Unfortunately, there was a transportation issue at my school and we did not have a bus to get my teammates and I to UPenn. My coach had put in a request for a bus months before, last minute we had to share a bus with a neighboring team Edison. We ended up leaving an hour behind schedule. When we finally arrived, my heat had already gone off. Luckily, my other coach had driven there herself and checked in for me. Without a warm-up, blocks, or a bib number I ran onto the track and got on the line to compete in a different heat. To place 5th at such a famous meet under so much pressure was a major accomplishment.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running or field career in high school?

If I could do it all again, I wouldn't get so nervous before certain races.  

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

Changing coaches from sophomore to junior year was a difficult transition for me. Coach Carney was my coach when I started high school. He taught me to believe in myself and is my greatest inspiration. It was hard for me when he retired because I had relied on him so heavily in my races as I learned how to run the 400. He has had the biggest positive impact on my track career.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss my competitors the most. I've known the same athletes from East Brunswick since 8th grade and I've grown so close to them. It's crazy to think we are all moving on and I won't see them at almost every meet where we can catch up.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?

I would tell any younger athlete to be fearless and always believe in yourself.  

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

Coach Carney has had a major impact on my life and goals. Coach Carney is the one who told me I could compete in college, worked with me for countless hours in the summer to prepare me for winter, believed in me, taught me to hurdle, gave me motivation. Without Coach Carney my life would not be the same. He taught me to always be kind to strangers and the wisdom he has instilled with me will stay a lifetime. He has taught me to be a dedicated, hard-working athlete, but also a kinder person.

What are your college plans?

I plan to run track for Rutgers University and couldn't be more excited.

Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

I would like to thank my coaches and everything they have done for me. Also, my teammates who have become some of my closest friends.