By Agnessa Kasumyan
With the echo of her racing heartbeat pulsing in her ears, and her hands and feet in a steady equilibrium, she runs under the drizzling rain, raising her feet before the final jump to score the perfect landing, the rhythm of “left, left right” keeping her balanced.
Thud, she falls, sweat trickling down her face, her face flushed more from anger at her failure than from the tiring workout.
Left, left right, she goes again, picking up the routine step pattern of the triple jump, a track and field event similar to the long jump but involving a hop, a bound, and a jump.
Picking up the pace, she falls again, but repeats the course until her knees look as if they have been permanently dusted with dirt.
“She never gives up,” Track Coach Stan Watson said ASB President Mary Arakelyan (’12), reminding her of the “left, left right” pattern as she prepares to run again.
At only 5’3”, Arakelyan is known by her peers, teachers, and coaches as a somewhat hardheaded, good-hearted, and hardworking individual who doesn’t like to give up.
“She doesn’t have the easiest of personalities,” sister Lilit said. “She’s a stubborn perfectionist, and sometimes it works for her, sometimes against her, but she’s someone you can always rely on to get things done.”
Arakelyan started off her high school career joining basketball. Though she admitted to not being “the best” at the sport, she enjoyed the challenge and the game itself.
Eventually, Arakelyan left basketball due to the pressures of being a new ASB member, but once she felt comfortable with her position and handling all of the different responsibilities that came with being president, she joined Track and Field.
“I like to run and thought it would be a fun and healthy extracurricular activity, but I ended up falling in love with it because it was so challenging and fulfilling,” she said.
Arakelyan described running and mastering new parts of the sport as something that gives her an adrenaline kick that she gets “addicted to,” so during off-season, she tends to feel a little “depressed.”
Though she specializes in the triple jump, her coaches feel that they can count on her to take on any event during races, even ones she’s never practiced before.
Long jump coach Shahpore Khalifeh says that as a senior he expects more from Arakelyan and can always count on her to try new events during races if they’re short on athletes.
“If I need somebody, I can trust to put Mary in and know she will be up to the challenge and try her best,” he said.
Last year, Arakelyan completed two hurdle events without any prior training. This year, during the school’s first meet of the year, the team did not have any hurdlers, so she asked Khalifeh to put her in as a “filler” in order to earn the team more points.
Though he was hesitant, he eventually relented. To their surprise, Arakelyan ended up taking second place while completing the 300-hurdle race and scored the team major hurdling points throughout the season.
After the race was over, Arakelyan recalls “Coach K” running up to her and saying “this is definitely something we can work with.”
During her first year in track, Coach Jack Sallakhian taught Arakelyan how to do the triple jump ten minutes before a race. Though expecting to make a fool out of herself, Arakelyan felt that she “might as well” try her best and ended up finishing third.
Arakelyan says that though there were many times she wanted to give up she knew she wouldn’t be able to “forgive” herself if she did.
“I can’t stand to think of myself as a quitter, and when I’m tempted to, I feel weak.”