By Jim Sullivan
---- — Recent Triton graduate Victoria Lojek is a distance runner, running long and hard enough to become her alma mater’s first woman to win the Triton Track Ironman Award.
“I’ve put a lot of work into it, so it is great to be recognized,” Lojek said. “It’s something I’ve really been working towards and it makes me happy to think about that.”
The Ironman is given to a deserving graduating senior who has completed 12 seasons of a running sport (cross country, indoor, outdoor track).
“She’s obviously someone who just loves running,” Triton track coach Joe Colbert said of Lojek. “Running is a big part of her life and the amount of time and hours and miles that these kids run in one season is daunting. So, to do it for 12 seasons in a row just tells you what kind of kid she is, she’s really committed. And her commitment to her team was impressive. She was really, truly loved by her team.”
Colbert made Lojek aware she might qualify for the Ironman two years ago.
“After outdoor track in my sophomore season, my coach came up to me and told me I was going for the Ironman Award,” said Lojek. “And that kind of took me aback because I was not expecting it. But from that moment on, it became the goal.”
Lojek, started running for the Vikings in sixth grade, racking up a personal best of 6:34 in the mile and a 24:05 in cross-country. Keeping her around year after year was the fact that the track program agreed with her personality.
“Everyone’s always supporting each other,” Lojek said. “And it’s an individual sport as well as a team sport. So, everyone knows what you’re going through in your race. The cheering on the sidelines (is great). We also have sleepovers and hang out and stuff. The team atmosphere is really amazing.”
Now with her plaque in her possession, the former girls cross country captain can also lay claim to being a Triton trailblazer.
“I knew that I was the first girl to get it,” said Lojek. “That’s not something that everybody does, and younger girls have come up to me and said, ‘That’s what I want to do, I want to win the Ironman too.’ To hear them say that and to hear that I have opened their eyes to that is really an amazing feeling.”
“Distance running is a grind, it’s a chore,” said Colbert. “It’s definitely a lifestyle. So, for anybody to get (the Ironman) is remarkable. And for a young lady to be the first one to get it, yeah, that’s a milestone.”
Making Lojek, and in fact any Triton runner’s accomplishments all the more impressive is the fact that they have been without a home track for the past two years after the track at the Byfield school was condemned.
“It was kind of disappointing when our coach told us that we were not going to have any meets there, because that is our home,” Lojek said. “That’s where we train every day. But we decided to go with it, we didn’t really have a choice. We had to suck it up and take it for what it was.”
Currently funds are being raised to meet the $2.5 million needed as part of the Triton Stadium Revitalization Project. But at the moment, no groundbreaking date has been set.
“Not having a home track is obviously disappointing,” said Colbert. “It’s frustrating for the kids. They never get to participate in a track meet at their home school. Pretty soon, we’re going to get to the point where we don’t have anybody on our team whose ever had a home track. That’s sad. User fees are pretty high and everyone is paying a pretty good amount in property taxes to have kids going to school, and not even have the facility to be able to do this, I think that’s pretty disappointing.”