Amari: A Tsunami at Heart

by admin on April 25, 2014

Amari as a Tsunami

Amari as a Tsunami

Once a Tsunami, always a Tsunami.  At nine, Amari Onque-Shabazz ran for the Plainfield Tsunami Track Club.  She then transferred to another track team, which at the time had a concentration of girls her age.  Now in high school, Amari runs for Mount Saint Dominic Academy.  Yet, she is a regular at Tsunami meets and practices.  Her sister Amaia runs for the Tsunamis, as one of several nine and ten year old girls now on the team.  Amari was there to cheer her sister on at the 2014 USATF Northeast Zonal Championship, where Amaia earned gold in the 9-10 year old 4×200 meter relay.  When bringing Amaia to practice, Onque-Shabazz indulges the Tsunami athletes with a little shark tank racing, in which she runs continuously while they rotate to remain fresh.  In addition, being an alumna, Amari enjoys contributing to the team by periodically teaching the Tsunami athletes warm up and cool down stretches that she has learned in high school.

Amari’s association with the Tsunami is invaluable, as it allows our athletes to observe what could be the next level of their track career.  Indeed, her high school program is an advancement from her club experience.  She says, “High school track is very intense and competitive since most runners are looking to earn a scholarship to attend college.”

Amari competes in the Non-Public North A Division.  This division is comprised of  non-public high schools located in northern New Jersey with large enrollments ranging from 424 to 1378 students, to be distinguished from non-public high schools located in southern New Jersey, and from B category small school with enrollment ranging from 50 to 382 students.  With 478 students, Onque-Shabazz’s all-girls Catholic school located in Caldwell at the edge of Essex County has an enrollment on the smaller side of the division.   Public schools are in a separate league with different divisional breakdowns.

Amari transitioned quickly into high school track and has proven that she can handle the competition.  For a sophomore at the Mount, she has already amassed an impressive record running the 400 meter dash, the 800 and 1600 meter events, and cross country within the Non-Public North A Division, as illustrated in these accomplishments:

Freshman Year:

  • First-Team All-County, Cross Country
  • Non-Public A State Champion, 800 Indoor
  • Non-Public A Group Champion, 400 Outdoor
  • Second-Team All-Group, 400 Outdoor
  • Third-Team All-County, 800 Outdoor
  • First-Team All-Group 4×800 Outdoor

Sophomore Year:

  • First-Team All-County, Cross Country
  • First-Team All-Group, 400 Indoor
  • Third-Team All-County, 1600 Indoor
  • First-Team All-Group, 4×400 Indoor
  • Second-Team All-State, 4×400 Indoor

Now in the midst of her outdoor season, Amari is training relentlessly but smartly with Division 1 college athletics in mind, where scholarships are offered.  The training for Onque-Shabazz as a mid- to long-distance runner involves a mixture of mileage and speed.  “In high school, my daily workouts range from six to seven miles (the equivalent of 24 to 28 laps on a 400 meter track),” she says.

Amari competing in high school championship

Amari competing in high school championship

For example, one component of a mileage workout she recently completed was three sets of one mile runs on the descending times of 5:55 minutes, 5:45 minutes and 5:42 minutes, with a 400 meter jog for rest; followed by one mile of corners and straights; and ending with 10 x 100 meter sprints to reinforce strong finishes.  Her sprint workouts sometimes include six sets of 200s starting on 38 seconds and descending by two seconds each repetition, with a jog across the field back to the start on the 400 meter track; followed by six 100 meter sprints and six 80 meter all out sprints.  With this regimen, Amari is looking to best her 400 time of 58.01 seconds, 800 time of 2:17 minutes, and 1600 time of 5:05 minutes.

Notably, special attention is paid to injury prevention and speedy recoveries in her training.  “There is a lot of emphasis placed on proper cooling down and stretching,” says Amari.  As can be seen from her workouts, Amari uses light continuous exercises, such as jogging, to allow her body temperature, breathing and heart rate to return to normal in between sets.  An added benefit is that contractions of the muscles from the light continuous exercises allow fresh blood to flush out lactic acid and muscle-waste products, which build up from strenuous exercises.

Additionally, Amari performs stretching exercises after she has completed her cool down exercises.  In doing this, she improves her overall flexibility to reduce the likelihood of suffering an injury.  Amari has become a student on the subject of proper recovery as well as injury prevention, spurring her to teach our Tsunami athletes a variety of stretches over several training sessions as an element of her high school community service project.

With her well-thought out training regimen, Amari welcomes competition with confidence.  “I love high school competition,” says Amari.  “The atmosphere is electrifying.  In high school there is much team spirit, especially in cross country.  My teammates wear different bows for each meet, we paint our faces with lion paws since we are the Lady Lions. When it’s time for championship season we have someone dress up in our mascot costume and cheer us on during the race.  My advice to middle school athletes who are considering running in high school is to ‘just do it’.”

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