Featured Athlete – AJ Laqueur – TAPinto.net

AJ Laqueur is a junior at North Salem High School and a captain for the varsity cross-country, winter and spring track teams. In addition to his athletic pursuits, AJ is also enrolled in Algebra II honors, AP English and AP Physics, and has complete honors courses in biology, chemistry, and French. He has also been named to either honor roll or high honor roll each quarter since his freshman year. Recently, AJ took to time to speak with North Salem News about the upcoming track season. 

How do you feel heading into this season? What do you hope to accomplish?

I am ecstatic about heading into my spring season with the track team. We’ve successfully endured through two extremely abnormal seasons (cross-country and winter track) due to the pandemic, and I cannot wait to see what spring track has in store for us.

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In terms of goals for the team, I’m hoping for everyone to get some competing time this season and to see the beauty of the hard work we put in during training. As long as everyone is truly having fun and pleased with how their season is going, I’m happy. For myself, I hope to break a 5-minute mile (current PR is 5:07).

What does being a team captain mean to you?

Being captain of the team means the absolute world. My love for the sport has only grown since I first joined the cross-country and track teams freshman year, and having the privilege of helping to lead the team has given me a whole new appreciation for the sport. 

Mostly, I think being captain has really enhanced my character not only as an individual runner, but also as a leader, and I’ve learned how to act as a role model through my experience of being captain.

How has the Covid pandemic affected your training and preparations for this season?

I think COVID has actually done more good for us than bad. Sure, running with a mask is no easy task. However, the pandemic has really taught us that nothing truly stops one from putting forth their best effort. Despite the restrictions COVID has induced, we still continue to train with a purpose; to train harder than the previous day. It’s safe to say that we are nothing but proud of how our past two seasons have played out. 

We’re also just extremely grateful to have even had the opportunity to train together as a team these past months, given the circumstances. The lack of competition and available facilities during the winter season did make it tough to stay motivated. However, we were able to pull off one successful, last-minute meet at the end of the season, in an underground parking garage. Through it all, we have, and will continue to work hard and put in the dedication. And most importantly, we have fun doing it at the same time. 

How would you describe your overall experience at North Salem High School thus far? 

Overall, I’ve had a solid experience at North Salem. My freshman year allowed me to obtain a better view of what my future would look like academically, not just in high school but for college as well. Obviously, my interrupted sophomore year due to COVID was not expected at all. It was disappointing to have a successful year cut short like that, but I was able to push through to the end. 

My junior year thus far has also been unlike any other school year in the past, though it is somewhat intriguing to know that I’ve lived through a time like this and still am able to enjoy myself and continue on with life. For my senior year, it is rather difficult to visualize how it will turn out, however I do have confidence that things will most likely have settled fairly well by then.

Is there anyone that you would like to recognize for helping you along the way?

I would of course like to recognize my family as they have done nothing but support and encourage me through my athletic journey, and have been there since day one. My achievements in cross-country and track are all thanks to my coaches. They’ve shown me what the true outcome of the work we put in is, and the reward that comes with this sport. Without them and their faith in me over the years, I would not have found the success that I’ve had in my running career. 

I would also like to recognize senior and co-captain, Ava Jolley. She’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever gotten to know, and she has an unbelievable work ethic that’s led to her accomplishments in cross-country and track over the years. This year in particular, she’s been an amazing training partner who’s pushed me to my absolute best, and it’s been a true honor getting to be a part of the team with her.

Want to nominate a student athlete for a future issue? Let us know by emailing northsalemnews@halstonmedia.com

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