Sprinting to success: Poppy Beiser perseveres, finds joy


Gabriel Issa

Junior Poppy Beiser practices starts on Jackman Field. Poppy’s passion for and dedication to running has propelled her to to success.

Running is complex. Some days are harder than others, but it’s always something she comes back to. Ultimately, the happiness and thrill running new trails and tracks makes her feel like she’s flying. Running makes junior Poppy Beiser feel alive. 

An accomplished sprinter on U-High’s track and field team, Poppy initially never saw herself as a runner, but her passion and attention dedicated to the sport has become critical to her success at the 200- and 400-meter races. 

Poppy joined the track and field team in 2021 as a ninth grader to provide a social outlet during the pandemic. Joining the team allowed her to get outside and meet new people, she said. Poppy started to enjoy running after her hard work and endurance paid off. 

From the first time sprinting coach Lynne Ingalls saw Poppy run, something clicked. 

“She just has innate ability,” Coach Ingalls said. “She’s just a powerhouse. She’s also very mentally focused so it adds to all of her innate physical abilities when she’s out there on the track.”

The energy and time Poppy dedicates to running shows by the time on the clock. Her personal best is 61.25 seconds for the 400 meter. 

“Running is definitely the most important extracurricular for me. It helps both my physical and mental health, it gives me something to look forward to, it’s something I really enjoy, and because I enjoy it and I put a lot of work into it, I’ve had a lot of success,” Poppy said.

Poppy competed in the 400-meter race the Illinois Top Times on March 25. She was the only athlete on the U-High track team to qualify. 

Poppy was made a co-captain last year as a sophomore. Her strong leadership skills and the positive energy she brings to practice make her successful. 

“She was made a captain for the very reason that she has strong leadership qualities,” Coach Ingalls said. “She is excited about her own abilities and her own willingness to be as successful as possible on the track, and she wants to bring all her teammates along on that same page.”

Co-captain Carter Chang has been running with Poppy for three years. This is their second year leading the team together. Carter believes Poppy’s leadership qualities extend beyond her own athletic abilities, and she strives to help everyone on the team improve.

“She’s really enthusiastic and a really good captain,” Carter said. “She always makes sure the team knows what they’re doing before going into a race.”

To Carter, Poppy’s passion and dedication is undeniable. 

“If you ask anyone, it’s pretty clear that she’s pretty passionate about it,” Carter said, “especially given the amount of time she puts in outside of school.” 

Poppy’s passion for running has not only been driven by the community and her teammates but also her own aspirations. 

“Most of it comes from my personal goals and my dreams,” Poppy said.

Poppy’s focus has allowed her to push past the tough training and reach a high level of endurance.

“A lot of people say ‘Our sport is your sport’s punishment’ and they don’t give it a chance to actually find a passion or see what running has to offer,” she said.

The mental focus and dedication has paid off for Poppy and has allowed her to truly reach her potential as an athlete.

“A lot of people stop running before they reach the point where it becomes enjoyable,” she said, “When you reach or pass that threshold, it feels like you’re flying.”