Rising stars: Gabby Moniza ’24 and Erinn Varga ’24

Rising stars Erin Varga and Gabby Moniza discuss their freshman track season and the approaching championship meets.

West Side Story: How has your High School track and cross country experience been so far?

ERINN VARGA: Pretty good, COVID has made a difference I know, but the upperclassmen have really made the whole thing better, and I am really happy with the season overall. 

GABBY MONIZA: Good! I’ve really enjoyed the people, and the environment, and the season has been fun with the girls. I guess the running part has been good too.

WSS: What made you first interested in participating? 

EV: I really liked seventh grade track, and I was decent at it. Plus track [the races] are so much faster than cross country. And those races are better suited for me.

GM: I did do it in junior high, and I was decent. And I guess I didn’t have another sport, so I’ve just kept going.

WSS: What is it like being a freshman contributing to the varsity team?

I get to be a part of being something bigger than what I am”

— Erinn Varga '24


EV: Really cool, Because I get to be a part of being something bigger than what I am. And it being only my freshman year, I have so much more to go. I feel like I can do so much more. It’s also really fun to race against the highest level of high school runners.

GM: Kind of scary, I also know that I do have three more years, but it’s fun to be able to connect with the older teammates.

WSS: What has the transition been like from junior high to high school?

EV: So so strange, because it’s so different and harder. And taking care of yourself is such a big part of it now.

GM: In junior high we ran about 1.3 miles every day, so it was very surprising to go from that to like five miles. They are just very different, and high school is definitely more work.

WSS: If you could describe the team atmosphere in one word?

EV: Wonderful.

GM: Welcoming. Everyone is just so nice. 

WSS: How long have you been running track?

EV: I started Iowa Speed after elementary school, when I had just quit gymnastics. I joined on a whim, then I figured out I kinda liked running. I had joined with Gabby, we figured out we were pretty good at this. And it has just snowballed from there.

GM: Third cross country season, and second track because I didn’t get one last year. I think I did Iowa speed in like fifth grade.”

WSS: What have you learned this year?

EV: Ride with it. You kind of got to be in the moment, because every moment is special when it comes to track… I think live in the moment, and running is something that needs you to be in the moment. 

GM: There is a lot more preparation that goes into races than just the racing. It’s about doing the best you can competing against yourself, not just winning.

WSS: What are your goals for the rest of the season and the seasons to come?

EV: I want to go to state for the 400 meter hurdles, and get a PR by running a 1:06 or 1:05.

GM: I want to continue to get better, and I don’t want to burn out. But I just want to keep doing the best I can.

WSS: What is it like being a conference champ as a freshman?

EV:  Really strange, as that meet was interesting because I wasn’t feeling great. But, I managed to get to the starting line and managed to run what I felt I could run, and I got first. Which is really really cool.

*Both Varga and Moniza have qualified for the state track and field meet held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines*