Nancie Sophias has had some great moments running for Fort Lee High School, but one of the most memorable might have come on Saturday.
Sophias, a senior, qualified to run in the NJSIAA State Track Meet of Champions in the 800 meter race on Thursday in Old Bridge at Carl Sandburg Middle School. With Sophias’ qualification she became the first female runner in the history of Fort Lee High School to run in this major and prestigious event.
On Saturday, Sophias qualified for the event by running the 800 meters in 2:17.02, which broke Killy Neilane's 1978 school record for the event.
Sophias has represented Fort Lee High School well and is proud to have made such a difference. Sophias has had many other standout moments during her time at Fort Lee.
“[One such moment] was last year during Cross-Country season," said Sophias. "The State Sectional race was held at one of the toughest cross-country courses. A runner's time was expected to be a minute slower in this course. There were more than 200 people in the race, and I ended up finishing in eighth place with my best time. After the race, I couldn't even walk without my parents supporting my weight. I ran that race the best I could. I truly fought against the pain and just kept pushing myself to not give up and keep going faster. It was expected for me to finish in 30th to 40th place. No one expected me to finish eighth. Even a coach from another team congratulated me. I felt so proud after that race. I will never forget it.”
Sophias is also the first female to earn first team all-county honors and is the school record holder in four different races. Her hard work and dedication have been key, and she also attributes her success to head Coach Demba Mane.
“Coach Mane has been my coach since freshmen year and was previously a track runner himself when he was a student at Fort Lee," Sophias said. "Loyalty to not only a team, but to a school, really makes a difference in a coach. Coach Mane understands that track is not all about physical strength, but mental strength as well. The time he spends talking to the team about the workout is the same amount of time he spends to motivate us. Even before a race, when I get nervous, he'll talk to me and give me more courage. He truly wants the best for his athletes. I am very thankful to have him as a coach.”
It has been a great run for the senior at Fort Lee High School, and her track career is far from over.
Sophias has certainly made her mark at Fort Lee High School and will be moving on to Syracuse University next year, where she plans on continuing her track and field career and ultimately becoming a doctor.