Deaf and Hard of Hearing Athletes Compete at Berg/Seeger Track and Field Classic
Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) hosted the 3rd Annual Berg/Seeger Track and Field Classic April 16-17. Ten high school programs serving deaf and hard of hearing students brought a total of 129 student athletes to display their athletic prowess at Gallaudet's newly renovated Hotchkiss Field. The USA Deaf Track and Field organization used the gathering as an opportunity to recruit promising athletes for the 2010 Youth Pan American Deaf Games, which will be held this summer in Argentina.
In a very close contest, the Ruth T. Seeger Award honoring the girls' team champions went to the Maryland School for the Deaf team, who eked out a two-point victory over Texas School for the Deaf. The Thomas O. Berg Award went to the 2010 boys' team champions from the Texas School for the Deaf, whose athletes broke meet records in six events. The MSSD girls' team finished third in the overall team standings, while the boys' team finished fourth. Senior Jay Hill of Texas was named the male best all-around athlete and junior Claire Tucker of Maryland School for the Deaf received the best all-around honor for the girls.
The event showcased many standout performances. MSSD senior Vianney Boum-Yamb, who finished second in individual points, blazed through the preliminaries to win both the 100- and 200-meter finals by a comfortable margin. MSSD held on to beat Texas in the finals of the girls' 4 x 400-meter relay and topped Maryland in the girls' 4 x 200-meter relay, helping lift the team to medal status. MSSD sophomore Mohammed Kamara posted a second place finish in the boys' 400-meter finals. Elissa Letendre, a sophomore from The Learning Center for Deaf Children in Framingham, Massachusetts smashed the meet records in both the 3200- and 1600-meter races and was named the best track athlete among the female competitors. In the boys' 3200-meter race, winner Taylor Koss and second and third place finishers, Daniel Mooney and Jesse Steingieser, all surpassed the old meet record set by Carlos Medina in 2009.
MSSD athletic director Mark Burke said, "Overall it was a great meet. Our sponsors donated funds, food, and the facilities to make the Berg/Seeger Classic a success." MSSD track coach Jenny Cooper, who coaches both the boys and the girls, was excited about the team's progress. The girls' team was in contention up through the final event. She was bubbling with pride when she explained, "Two of the girls who won medals today had never competed in that particular event before. One had only practiced once, the day before the meet." To earn team points, Cooper urged some of the students to stretch themselves by trying new events. Each finisher from first through tenth place received points toward the total team score. MSSD's track team has a bright future. Of the school's 24 competitors, only three are seniors.
The Berg/Seeger track and field event is named in honor of Ruth T. Seeger, who taught track and physical education at Texas School for the Deaf for 36 years and Thomas O. Berg, the first chairman of the U.S. Deaf Athletics Federation and legendary track and field coach.