Wellesley track and field’s sophomore sprinter Isabella Narvaez has signaled a breakout season this winter, capturing school records in both the 400-meter and 60-meter events. Last weekend at the New England Division III Championships, Narvaez’s time of 58.82 earned her All-New England recognition and qualified her for the ECAC Indoor Championships. Narvaez and the rest of the Blue will next compete in the NEICAAA Indoor Championships at BU. The Greenwich, CT native recently sat down with the Wellesley News to discuss her introduction to the sport, her goals moving forward and Wellesley track and field’s team dynamics.
Sravanti Tekumalla (S.T.): When did you start running track?
Isabella Narvaez (I.N.): I started running my sophomore year. I’ve actually played basketball for 10 years, so it was a very radical change. I figured I would try it because I was always kind of fast on the court and I figured, you know, I don’t have anything else to do in that season, so I might as well just do track, right? So I tried it, and I really, really liked it and started getting better at it. And then I just fell in love with it and decided to do it in college!
S.T.: Do you still play basketball?
I.N.: No, I like fooling around with a ball and just shooting around, but not really. I miss the team sport aspect, but track has a different team dynamic. It’s different, but I really like it.
S.T.: What do you like about the team dynamic in track and field?
I.N.: Everyone is generally very supportive. So everyone has individual goals, but for some reason, it still feels like a team because everyone is aware of everyone else’s goals, and if somebody has a really good race one day, everyone is on top of it and they’re like, ‘Well great job, we knew you could do it.’ And if you didn’t have a great race, everybody’s also really great and says, ‘You know you have more in it,’ so it’s kind of like everyone is aware of what everyone else is running and what their goals are, so that’s nice.
S.T.: That’s really cool! So what events do you tend to run?
I.N.: I’m a sprinter, so I do anything below 400 meters. Above that, I will never attempt but I mainly do 400 meters; that’s my favorite and that’s what I focus on the most. I also do the 200- and the 60-meter dash occasionally. And I’m a part of the relays as well: the 4×400 meters and the 4×200 meters.
S.T.: So one of the reasons why we chose you as Athlete of the Week is because you’ve broken the school record. How has that been?
I.N.: It’s really fun, because I’m kind of competing against myself. Because the program is so new, everybody who runs a great time is getting on that board and setting new standards. It’s really fun to see that the program is growing and I’m kind of helping in a way, and I’m also at the same time setting new standards for myself.
S.T.: What do you think has been the highlight of this season? Just because you’ve broken this record multiple times!
I.N.: I don’t know. I guess I really wanted to hit 58 seconds in my 400, and I had never done that before indoors — I had done it outdoors but not indoors, and it’s a little harder indoors. And two weekends ago at BU, I just had a very, very good race, and I just hit 0:58 and it was just very exciting!
S.T.: That’s great. So what do you think are your goals for your junior and senior year?
I.N.: Well, obviously, I always want to get faster. But at the same time, I would really love to make it to nationals. Right now, it kind of sounds like a distant dream, but I really would like to, just for the experience and just because it would be really exciting. But team- wise, I think I’m just really looking forward to seeing how the team started when I just got here and what the product is after I leave, so I want to be able to see a change in the program and how it grew.
S.T.: So, in that case, how do you think the team was when you first got here?
I.N.: Well, it’s primarily bigger; we have more people which is really exciting, and we’re more team oriented. I think — we’ve gotten more comfortable around each other and we’re not only teammates but we’re friends now, and that makes it a lot more fun to just go to practice, because when you’re going to practice and your team isn’t having fun, then it just takes away from the experience. So I think the team is a lot more supportive in general, and it’s a more friendly environment.
S.T.: And then my last question: do you do anything special before a race? Any pre-race rituals?
I.N.: I usually get very, very, very nervous, so I start getting all these negative, weird thoughts and my coach is always like, “Isabella, every time you say there’s something wrong with you, that means you’re going to have a good race.” In general, I don’t have anything that I do, really. I like just talking to myself. I calm myself down; it motivates me. I try to calm down by telling myself I can do it and that no matter what happens, it’s going to be an addition to my experience. It’s mostly just mental; there’s not weird physical things that I do.
Photo Courtesy of Isabella Narvaez ’17