On May 6, 2023, the EMS boys 4X800 relay team ran a 8:11.12 to top the 1975 EMHS record by 13 seconds.
Pictured above, Darrell Zook ‘76, is with the team, which included Jakob Gerlach ’23, Adam Rhodes ’25, Luga Samson ’25 and Jedrek Sneary ’25. Zook, who was part of the 1975 team, was on hand as track and field coach for Broadway High School. The ’75 team also included Kenny Layman ’76, Byron Brenneman ’76 and Don Martin ’75.
Chafin Vrolijk, EMS learning specialist for grades 6 to 12, coaches EMS track and field. “They have had the goal to beat this record all year,” she said, explaining that she scheduled an especially competitive meet to push them on this day. The team broke the record in competition at the Dogwood Track Classic, hosted at UVA.
Vrolijk has served as EMS head coach for cross country, and indoor and outdoor track since 2015. She was a stand out runner at Eastern Mennonite University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in special education with K-12 licensure and a master’s degree in education with a concentration in restorative justice in 2019. In 2015, she and her EMU teammates placed third in program history in the indoor 4X400m with 2.26.72; her indoor individual 800m was 2:26.72, also third in EMU athletics program history.
“With three of these runners returning next year, we are poised to stay really competitive as a whole team,” says Coach Vrolijk. “They were really motivated by seeing all the distance records from that time, and looking at the photos from the Hall of Flames and photos that Ethan Zook shared during Homecoming chapel last fall.” [Ethan ’79 is a brother of Darrell and also an avid runner. See his Homecoming chapel sharing here.]
“Coach Vrolijk has worked tirelessly to create a culture of inclusivity in our track program,” Andrew Gascho, athletic director. “That culture translates to EMS student athletes willing to try something new, and we are seeing the benefits of that, specifically with our 4×800 team as they have a first year runner who ran a PR as part of the record breaking race on Saturday. Chafin’s relationship-based coaching creates trust between coach and athlete, making athletes feel safe to step outside their comfort zone.”
Zook noted on Facebook that it was “a privilege… to witness the breaking of our 48-year record at the Dogwood Track Classic at UVA… Congratulations to you all. Ironically, the Broadway Track record is 8:11.47 from 2018. We [Broadway High School] are attempting to break that record on Friday night, May 12, at the Last Chance meet at Harrisonburg High School.”