The athletic West family of East Hampton continues to make news: Ashley West, a sophomore at Susquehanna University, last weekend became a collegiate all-American, a rarity among Bonac athletes, and her younger brother, Nicholas, an East Hampton High School junior and all-state soccer player, raised $4,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project by completing 1,000 “burpees,” also known as squat thrusts, in an hour, 56 minutes, and 7 seconds.
Nick’s feat was all the more notable for the fact that two years ago, following surgery to repair a broken humerus bone in his right arm, his surgeon apparently told him that he probably would never regain full mobility.
When this writer said to his mother, Kristen Tulp, that “at least it wasn’t a bone in his foot or ankle,” she said, “That’s what Nick was thinking too.”
Randi Cherill, East Hampton High’s trainer, kept a watchful eye as Nick knocked out the squat thrusts at her Sports Therapy studio in Amagansett. Chris Carney, who helped put the Wounded Warrior Project on the map with a cross-country bicycle ride in 2007, and who has been closely involved with the project ever since, was there, as were Nick’s mother, Ashley, and his track coach, Luis Morales, “as well as other family members, who were urging him on.”
Carney, who runs the Railroad Fitness studio in East Hampton, said he was “flattered” that Nick had picked the Wounded Warrior Project as the beneficiary of his self-imposed athletic test.
“The kid’s amazing,” said Carney, who watched the string of squat thrusts for 20 or so minutes. “One of the guys who made the second cross-country ride with me, Keith Calhoun, a double amputee, just won a silver medal in downhill skiing at the Olympics. The pledges that Nick solicited are helping to support guys like Keith, and Ryan Kelly, a single amputee, who also rode the whole way with me that second time and who’s now an air rescue helicopter pilot.”
Nick is running the 400 and 800 for East Hampton’s boys track team this spring. He also, along with his stepbrother, Nick Tulp, Esteban Valverde, and Brian Oreamuno, is playing for the Albertson Premier travel soccer team up the Island.
Cherill, when questioned, said, “He was in my office in between seasons, and said he’d seen a guy on YouTube do 1,000 burpees. I said he must be nuts, whereupon Nick said, ‘I can do that.’ I said, ‘Prove it.’ Then, in talking, we decided that it would be nice to get people to donate. He knew about the Wounded Warriors and said he’d like to raise the money for them.”
Asked what exactly squat thrusts were, Cherill said, “You start in a standing position, then squat down and kick back into a plank position, after which you do a push-up, bring your knees back up, and jump up so that your feet clear the floor. I can do about 30 of them before I want to throw up.”
On the appointed day, Cherill said, “Nick did sets of 10 and walked around a bit, and then started in again. His goal was to break two hours. It was a lot of fun to watch him. At the 450 mark I saw that he was getting tired. He ate an orange, which gave him a second wind, and he knocked out the last 500 like it was nothing. He’s a good kid and raising all that money for Wounded Warriors was a good thing to do.”
As for Ashley’s accomplishment, Bill Herzog, the veteran track coach here, said she had in the recent Landmark Conference meet won the 800, won the mile, and anchored the winning 4-by-400-meter relay team, leading Susquehanna’s team to a second-place finish.
“She was athlete of the meet, and all of that — there was no talking to her.”
In a phone conversation Tuesday morning, Ashley said, moreover, that her conference times — 2:19.31 in the half, and 5:08.83 in the mile — were meet records, that she was the conference’s track athlete of the year, and that she had set a school record of 2:12.65 sometime before the conference and national meets.
“She was a little displeased with her eighth-place finish in the national 800” at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Herzog continued. “But I said, ‘Look at what the plaque says — all-American. How many East Hampton graduates can say that? Very, very few.’ ”
West ran a 2:12 in a preliminary heat at Lincoln. “Actually, she led that race for three and a quarter laps, which wasn’t the best thing for her,” said Herzog, who watched it, as he did the final, on his computer. “She wound up fourth. You win these races at the end, not at the beginning.”
“In the final everybody was running really close. About midway through the third lap, you could see she was starting to make a move, but the well was dry, she tightened up. But who cares? She’s an all-American! And she’s only a sophomore.”
Carney said he had seen Ashley “running through town . . . at a ferocious pace.”
“It was her goal to become an all-American,” her mother said.
Ashley, when asked during Tuesday’s conversation how it felt to be an all-American, said, “Really good . . . and it was great to do it in my first try.” Concerning the final, she said she had been a little tired and was up against seniors and juniors who had an edge in experience.
Another laurel in the West family’s athletic crown is the fact that Nick and Ashley’s brother, Brandon, who plays in the goal for Messiah College’s men’s soccer team, won a national championship last fall, for the second year in a row.