New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Two NYU athletes make history on the track

Track and field athletes Kate Walsh and Jon Diaz — who have both broken program records this season — told WSN about their experiences on the team.
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Logan Holland
Kate Walsh in the long jump. (Logan Holland for WSN)

NYU track and field athletes Jon Diaz and Kate Walsh had a moment of euphoria at the New York City Gotham Cup on Jan. 19, smashing previously held program records. WSN sat down with the two teammates to discuss their accomplishments, the hours spent on the track and in the weight room and their relationships with teammates and coaches.

Jon Diaz — who was named the University Athletic Association’s Men’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Week — on Jan. 22, and Kate Walsh — a member of NYU’s record-setting 4x100m relay — etched their names into NYU’s history books, breaking previously held NYU indoor program records. Diaz, a senior, ran the 1000 meter run in 2:26.37 and earned 4th place out of 32 runners. Walsh, a sophomore, participated in the long jump, leaping 5.37 meters and setting a personal record of 27.05 seconds in the 200 meter. The program record for the 1000 meter was 2:27.33, set by Matt Turlip in 2011, and was 5.29 meters in the long jump, set by Attiyya Settle in 2015. 

Walsh attributes her recent success to new additions on the coaching and training staff. Walsh said that she had struggled in the sport last year, failing to make it past five meters in the long jump. Entering last year’s preseason, the long jumpers had no coach and many felt underprepared for the season ahead.

Hired this past January, Associate Head Coach Michael Roberts and Assistant Coach Jenny Kimbro made significant changes in the program. Walsh described the change in coaching as a flip being switched. 

“With coaching staff present from 7 a.m. to the end of the day, it felt like going from zero to 100,” Walsh said. “Our team felt supported at every turn.” 

Walsh is always looking for feedback and advice on her jumps, and joked that her efforts have turned her into a pest to assistant athletic director and head athletic trainer Arturo Flores. She said she walks into Flores’ office to “annoy and bother” him with something new almost every day. Walsh said her willingness to reach out has helped her regain her prior form. 

She recalls striding down the track, her surroundings fading to black, no thoughts buzzing in her head, only the words “attack, attack, attack.” She hit the sand and heard her teammates shouting, “the record, the record!” She didn’t realize until that moment what she had just done. 

A blonde girl is mid-jump above the long-jump pit. Behind her, a man with a clipboard and blue shirt records her distance.
Kate Walsh at a track meet. (Logan Holland for WSN)

With only a few seasons left at NYU, Walsh has high ambitions for the future, aspiring to push the indoor record even farther and claim the outdoor record of 5.60m set by Denise Frazer in 1994. 

“I have it in me to keep pushing and going further,” Walsh said.

For Diaz, chasing records has never been the only objective when he settles his feet at the starting line. For him, track is a way to express his personality and competitiveness. Whether through his self-proclaimed bad dancing or singing along to various rap songs before a race, Diaz’s unique energy demonstrates that being competitive doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. 

As one of the more senior, high-performing athletes on the team, underclassmen look up to Diaz for inspiration and mentorship. His approachable manner doesn’t intimidate newer players and fosters a tight-knit culture. 

“I may have all these accolades and successes, but I’m always learning from everyone around me,” Diaz said. “That’s what has helped me be so ambitious and improve [as a runner].”

Under the direction of former Head Coach David Thompson, who was a Division III athlete himself and three-time national champion, NYU track and field consistently improved each year, with teammates consistently challenging each other to improve both physically and mentally.

“Falling in love with the process makes it easier to reach goals, whether that’s in track or in any facet of life,” Diaz said. 

Contact Logan Holland at [email protected].

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