To Nationals and Back: Molly Martorella

This is the first of a two-part series tracing the paths of two varsity athletes who have made it to Nationals this spring. Sophomore Molly Martorella punched her ticket to the Indoor Track and Field North Coast Atlantic Conferencec Championship last weekend in Grinnell, Iowa, after several record-breaking sub-five minute miles earlier this season. Her time of 5 minutes, 2.77 seconds placed her 12th of 15 in the qualifying round of the mile. The time wasn’t quite quick enough to advance her to finals, but make no mistake, she has an excuse (not that she’s making any). She almost died trying.

Quinn Hull, Staff Writer

Rumor has it you had some “airplane trouble” on the way to the meet last Thursday.

Yeah. They made us fly out of Cleveland even though there was no possible way to land in Memphis [because of inclement weather]. We tried to land once and it was really bad. It was like being inside of a roller coaster but not being able to see where you were going. … I was just trying not to vomit. [Head Coach] Ray [Appenheimer] was a little nauseous. [Assistant Coach] Alaina [Chodoff] was just grabbing onto the guy sitting next to her, panicking, and he was trying to reassure her.

A lot of people were freaking out, but there were some people we couldn’t understand that were, like, laughing. … I guess different people have different ways of dealing with situations. … It was kind of funny and comical to look back on it.

That doesn’t sound funny at all. How did you make it to the meet?

They ended up flying us down to Greenville, MS, and we’re waiting for six hours in this dinky little airport in the middle of nowhere, with one room. … There’s no food, ‘cause it’s not a real airport, so we’re eating little peanuts and pretzels that they give us. … We don’t get back to Memphis until nine that night, too late to take another flight out. The next morning we booked a flight to Omaha, NE. And then we have to rent a car in Omaha and drive three hours to Grinnell College [in Iowa], and we get there at 2:15 [p.m.], like three hours before my race.

Did it affect your race?

Mentally I think I stayed pretty focused and determined. But physically, after thinking about it for a couple days … I was so fit at this time that there’s no reason I should have been that flat on the last lap.

Was that disappointing?

It’s not the fact that I got 12th at all. It’s the fact that I had expectations for this race to, like, finally be some testament to all the hard work I’ve done this season, and to go there and run basically my slowest mile time of the season … just kind of sucked. If I’d gotten 12th and a [personal record], it would have been no big deal to me. I would’ve been like, “hells yeah.”

Was there anything worth taking away from the experience?

I think as a whole, it was just an awesome learning experience because I did learn a lot about how to position myself and also from watching races, from watching the 5k later on, which I’ll run in the spring — just being able to see the competition at that level. And it was fun, I mean, it was a good time.

Next week, we’ll cover first-year diver Chris McLauchlan, who is set to compete at the NCAA championships this weekend in Indianapolis.