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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Taara Sajdeh sprints to success

Ninth+grader+Taara+Sajdeh+qualified+for+the+New+Balance+nationals+and+competed+in+March.
Delaney Connell
Ninth grader Taara Sajdeh qualified for the New Balance nationals and competed in March.

Taara Sajdeh is a routine-oriented person. Every morning before a cross country race she has the same breakfast and puts on her special race-day socks. In the time before a race, Taara drinks a packet of honey for energy, does a 10- to 15-minute shake-out run to get moving, listens to music, does some drills, then some sprints. She waits for her name to be called, and lines up with the rest of the racers. 

“In that moment there is just so much going on in my brain, but the second that we get close to the line, everything shuts off, and I’m just waiting for that gun,” Taara said. 

Ninth grader Taara Sajdeh, after a thrilling indoor track season, participated in the 800-meter run at New Balance Nationals in Boston in early March before the outdoor track season began.

Taara qualified for nationals with a time of 2:29.33 just 0.27 seconds faster than the qualifying time.

“I just went berserk and I started crying afterwards,” she said. 

Despite her success in cross country, Taara expected figure skating to be her main sport this year. But after some serious concussions, she had to rethink whether the sport was the right fit for her.

“For the past seven-ish years I’ve been a competitive figure skater,” Taara said. “I’d always done track on the side as a way to be in shape and be able to run because it was something that I enjoyed, but I never expected it to be my main sport.”

Sitting in the nationals warm up space, a cramped room packed with around 100 people getting ready for their competitions, was exhilarating for Taara. 

“You could just feel, not just the tension but also the excitement and the seriousness with everybody,” Taara said. 

During the race, Taara explained she tries not to think too much about running. 

“With running there’s always a little voice in the back of your head telling you, ‘You can’t do it’ or ‘You’re not good enough, just give up now’ and trying to ignore that voice is what’s going on during races,” she said, “but I’m honestly thinking about how much it hurts to be running in that moment.” 

Although the race itself was difficult, Taara explained that the experience of being at nationals was unlike anything she had experienced before.

“The environment itself was just so electric, and competing against the true best of the best in the nation was eye opening,” Taara said. “It allowed me to understand how much further I needed to go.” 

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About the Contributors
Haley Maharry
Haley Maharry, Reporter
Haley Maharry is a member of the Class of 2024, and serves as a reporter. Her favorite piece she has done is an audio story called “Fencing team members find new opportunity in fencing P.E. elective.” Outside of journalism, Haley listens to horror podcasts and acts in U-High's theater.
Delaney Connell
Delaney Connell, Photographer
Delaney Connell is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2026. Her favorite part of photojournalism is taking photos for school sports and school events. Outside of photojournalism, Delaney enjoys taking walks with her dog, talking with her brother and cooking.

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