Salute to Seniors: Isabel Hebner of Northern Highlands

Salute To Seniors is a medium for "senior farewells". 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, we already have a number of submissions and if you would like to submit check out this article for how to do so.

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

    I have two races that I will remember forever. The first would be outdoor track the spring of my junior year. It was state sectionals and our team was losing. I got to the line of the 3200 and saying I was nervous is an understatement. My sister, another one of my teammates, and I all were trying to score as many point as possible and trying to break 11. We ended 1,2,3 and ended up winning the race for our team. We also all went under 11. I remember after the race Paul Schwartz told us while we will run faster than that day, we will never run better. The next was SMOC this past cross country season. It was freezing, but not as freezing as groups. For anyone that knows me... I hate the cold. But as  Maddie Brand likes to say, cold is just a mindset, and that's how I ran. Despite coming to the first mile 50th place, I ended up picking up 46 places and ended in 4th. That race taught me to love Holmdel and I didn't think I would ever say I'll miss racing there.

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

    My biggest competition over the past 4 years would be my twin sister Monica. We do just about everything together and she's always been just a step ahead of me. We also are very competitive with each other (her more than me... sorry Monica) but we wouldn't want it any other way. I think our competitiveness with each other has fueled us to race harder and train harder. She will always be my biggest competition and I can't wait to race each other in different jersey next year.

    What was your greatest accomplishment?

    I think my greatest accomplishment would be finishing 4th at SMOC in Cross Country this past year. As I said before, I came through the mile in about 50th place. I trusted myself on the bowl and through the last mile and ended up in 4th. It had been a goal of mine since freshman year to podium at SMOC and I had finally done it. Also shout out to Ray and who ever was with him for screaming their heads off in the woods in the last mile of that race!

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

    I think the only change I would make is not to stress over the little things. I wouldn't over analyze a not so great workout or an off day.

    What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

    I think my biggest obstacle was getting out of my own head. For a very long time I just let myself accept that Monica was better than me and I couldn't keep up with her. It took me a few season but I finally told myself that I am just as good as her and can keep up with her and that's what I did.

    What will you miss the most?

    I think I am going to miss the NJ running family. At every meet statewide there is always a family feel, whether it be officials, fans, or runners from other teams, everyone has always been so nice and encouraging. ]

    What advice would you give to younger athletes?

    Have fun!!! The 4 years of high school goes by SO fast. You are going to blink and be done with high school running forever so go out there and have fun in every race and every run!

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

    My coaches have become second parents to me. I see them more than my own parents some weeks (sorry mom and dad). I could go on and on and on about Coach Gilli, Coach DeStaso, and Coach Buono and how they've shaped me into the runner I've become. Those three men taught me the ins and outs of running and life. They taught me how to handle the great races and the not so great races. They've never given up on me despite some races when I wanted to give up on myself. They always listened to how I felt and treated me like I was one of their own children. I can't thank them enough for these past four years. Shout out to Katie Hinchin for being like another sister and for the always amazing protein bar recommendations!  And shout out to Viscardi for teaching me that I can actually sort of run a mile.

    What are your post-high school or college plans?

    I will be running Cross Country and Track and Field at the University of Pennsylvania! Go Quakers!

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

    I'd like to thank my parents for always being race support and never questioning my pre race superstitions. My brothers for coming to all meets they could possibly make despite some freezing or pouring rain conditions. My coaches for treating me like one of your own kids. My teammates for being the greatest teammates in the world and always supporting me no matter what. And finally, the NJ running community for making these 4 years the greatest 4 years of my life.